DEAR HARRIETTE: I began seeing my boss romantically outside of work. After a while, I decided I didn’t feel the same way anymore and I don’t see myself going anywhere with him in the future. So I started canceling our dates and haven’t been answering his texts or calls after work. He has resorted to scheduling us on the same shifts so that we can be together. I try to keep the conversation about work, but he keeps asking about us. I told him there is no us. As long as I’m working there, I don’t think he is going to let go of this relationship. Finding a job right now is hard enough, so I can’t afford to quit. I know I put myself in this situation, but I shouldn’t be stuck, and he isn’t giving me much of an option here. -- Can’t Be Dumped
DEAR CAN’T BE DUMPED: What an awkward situation at a stressful time. The reality, though, is that your boss may be in more of a precarious position than you, depending on the size and infrastructure of your company. It sounds like he is harassing you. That is not acceptable, and it is actually considered a crime. You should go to human resources -- if you have that department -- and report your situation. Be honest. You willingly got involved with your boss, but you no longer want to be romantically tied to him. He is unwilling to let go. You need your job and do well at it, and you want to be comfortable doing it without the pressure of his advances. A human resources executive or top-level manager should be able to support you through this. Their job is to protect the company. If this relationship can potentially hurt the company, you will be protected. You may want to speak to a lawyer before talking to HR, though, to ensure that your rights are top of mind and you do not get scapegoated.
If you work for a small company without HR infrastructure, you are more vulnerable. Get a lawyer who can speak for you to your boss’s boss. The threat of legal action may get him to stand down. You will be left somewhat vulnerable, but it will be hard for them to fire you if you formally lodge a complaint against him. You actually can take him and the company to court if he doesn’t stop.