Q: “I feel as though I’m in a soap opera. I work as a legal secretary for ‘Rick,’ who is a partner in a large law firm. ‘Carolyn’ used to work for him in another law office. When Rick separated from his wife about a year ago, he and Carolyn began seeing each other.
“Six months after the separation, Rick moved back home with his family. Although he supposedly ended his relationship with Carolyn, he still calls her every day and sends her flowers. He claims to be very religious, so this hypocrisy makes me angry.
“My resentment must be obvious, because Rick recently called me into his office and said he would continue communicating with Carolyn whether I liked it or not. I plan to ask Human Resources to assign me to another attorney, but I’m not sure what reason to give. Should I describe Rick’s deceitful behavior or just say that we have a personality conflict?” Disgusted
A: You would be smart to find different grounds for your transfer request. Rick might be a philanderer and a jerk, but sharing the details of his romantic drama could brand you as a gossip and a tattletale. Citing “personality conflicts” is also hazardous, because the implication is that you are part of the problem.
A safer course is to provide an honest, job-related explanation. For example: “Working with Rick has taught me a lot about contracts, but I would also like to learn about other areas of the law. I heard that one of the trial attorneys needs a new secretary, and I’m very interested in applying for that position.”
Remember that other attorneys will ask for Rick’s recommendation before approving your transfer. So despite your distaste for his extracurricular activities, you still need to maintain a pleasant and professional working relationship with him.
Tempted to find love at the office? Here are some things to consider: Dangerous Workplace Romances.