I have been working at the same company for about 5 years, and I really love my job. Well, I used to love my job. About 6 months ago my married male boss hired a single woman to replace another gal who left the company. The new woman is attractive which I think is why he hired her, because she doesn’t seem to have any idea what she is doing. Also, they go out to lunch all the time, so I think something may be going on there. Whatever, that’s not my business.
My problem is that she is constantly undermining me and doing things behind my back to make me look bad. I outrank her, so maybe she is trying to get me fired so she can get promoted. She has taken credit for my work when I was on vacation and she bad-mouths me to other people in the department.
I’m starting to hate going to work. I tried to talk to her about this but she played dumb and said it was all in my head. Robin, it isn’t! What do I do about this situation? It’s driving me crazy. My husband says I should just quit but this woman is the only problem I have at work, so I don’t want to. Help!
Peeved in Portland
The wonderful thing about the women’s movement is that it cleared a path for us lady types to join the workforce, compete equally with men and excel in our chosen careers.
The downside to women in the workplace, of course, is women in the workplace. The type of woman you described (let’s call her “Michele”) has never lost her high-school bitch mentality and has now sharpened those backstabbing underhanded skills to use at work.
You seem to think your boss (let’s call him “Chris”) is screwing the new talent. I have a couple thoughts on this:
1. Don’t jump to conclusions and certainly don’t talk about this to anyone at work. That makes you just as bad as Michele. BUT
2. If you are correct, this affair is most certainly your business. Why? Because it is almost certainly against company policy, unless you work for Larry Flynt. When us gals who don’t fuck the boss have to work side-by-side with those who do, we are now operating on an un-level playing field and in a hostile work environment.
This is a good time to remind you that I am NOT giving you legal advice, even though I use fancy legal phrases like “hostile work environment” and “fuck the boss.”
If he is indeed sleeping with her, this impacts you in a few ways. First, he may very well give her promotions and raises that you deserve but won’t get because his dick isn’t in your mouth over the lunch hour.
Second, if this affair goes sideways, and they ALWAYS do, your workplace is now Drama Central, which can greatly impact your productivity and longevity at the company.
Third: an environment in which male bosses sleep with female subordinates is a poisonous one, and I can’t imagine that you are the only one who suspects this affair. If others know and are doing nothing, especially his superiors, you work in a place that is NOT good for women.
Now, what to do about Michele? Having worked with this type several times over the past, I can tell you that you are fighting an uphill battle, but not an impossible one. I’m in a bit of a rush this morning so I will do the advice-by-numbers thing to speed it along:
1. Document document document. You need to start playing a game of Cover Your Ass in a major way. For example, I would avoid having too many in-person conversations with this woman unless others are present (and then, you should take very careful notes). Engaging with her via emails and memos will enable you to capture exactly what was discussed without having to worry about her twisting your words to others.
2. If you truly think Michele and Chris are sleeping together, I suggest reporting this anonymously to your HR department. They will conduct an investigation and hopefully put a stop to it in one way or another. I say “hopefully” because I have seen situations in the past in which the company totally ignored the naughty behavior. Again, if you work at a company like that, it’s not a good place for you or for any other women who get by on their brains and talent instead of their backs.
3. It pains me to write this, but do consider looking for another job.
Your husband sounds nice – he can tell you are unhappy and he wants you out of this shitty place. Maybe you should start putting feelers out and see if there is somewhere else you can do what you do and be happy. I suggest looking at www.glassdoor.com and checking out the employee reviews before you go to another company – they can really tell you a lot about an organization.
I suggest you look for another job not just because this one isn’t going well, but also because I fear you may be correct that she is after your job. If you are right that she is screwing the boss, she now has him (and the company) in the palm of her hand. All she needs to do to get your job is to tell Chris: “Give me her job or I’ll tell your wife and your boss that we’ve been spending the lunch hour at the Holiday Inn.” Seriously, his nuts are hers and if she wants to squeeze, you are screwed.
I wish you luck. It makes me sad that women so often treat other women so poorly at work. I don’t see this dynamic between men and men or men and women at work, just women shitting on other women. I’m not sure why we do this but it gives all of us a bad name. I hope Michele realizes some day that she is doing a disservice to ALL women by engaging in this petty bullshit, and that she can only fuck her way to the middle.