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Handling an overly affectionate boss until you find another job

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources,Your Office Coach

Question: “My boss recently confessed that he has “feelings” for me. I am happily married and definitely do not share these feelings. The situation is uncomfortable, because he is the owner of this very small business. Although I have handwritten notes documenting his "emotional attachment,” I have been told this is not sexual harassment.I began looking for a new job, but so far have had no luck. My boss says his feelings haven’t changed, and he wants to know whether I am still planning to leave. What should I do?” — Pursued

Marie's Answer: Your amorous boss should have kept his “feelings” to himself. But since he didn’t, here are some points to consider:

•    Love notes and romantic declarations definitely qualify as sexual harassment. However, if you want to pursue this legal remedy, you must determine whether this “very small business” is large enough to be covered by the law.

•    Changing jobs is definitely the best solution. Your boss is now quietly harboring lovesick fantasies, but he may eventually become more insistent. In a larger company, human resources could help, but unfortunately you don’t have that option. 

•    Since you don’t have another job lined up, you can truthfully tell your boss that you have no immediate plans to leave. If he asks about the future, say that you will certainly provide reasonable notice if you should decide to depart. 

•    If your boss mentions his “feelings” again, remind him that you are married and that this relationship must remain strictly professional. Then change the subject. 

A final word of advice: Unless you can afford to lose your job, publicly announcing your intention to leave is unwise. Prudent people never discuss their job search plans with anyone at work. 

For Office Coach advice on managing work conversations, see Eight Topics to Avoid at the Office.  

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