my coworker is trying to get me transferred so his girlfriend can have my job

A reader writes:

I just found out that my married coworker is campaigning to get me transferred to another department … possibly so his girlfriend can have my job!

Someone from the other department is retiring and his “girlfriend” is just finishing up her degree and is currently interning for our company. The reason that I call her his “girlfriend” is that I’ve seen her makeup on the side of his face and they jump apart from each other when someone enters the room. Rumor has it that he has told other coworkers about his feelings for her, but he hasn’t confided in me, probably because he knows I wouldn’t approve.

I started getting suspicious because he kept asking if I wanted to transfer, sometimes in front of other people. He argued with me when I said no, reminding me about off-hand comments I’ve made in the past, as if he was trying to convince me that it was my idea. This morning I asked a coworker if I was imagining things or if he was trying to push me out. Not six hours later, I had confirmation from two different people that he had told them I wanted to transfer!

To make matters even more fun, this all comes a day after I confided in him that I am on chemo. I haven’t disclosed this to management because I’ve been lucky and I haven’t needed accommodations. However, if push came to shove I would either have to disclose to prevent the transfer or to request accommodations I would need to fill the new role.

I am at a loss of how to deal with this. Should I confront him? Tell my boss I don’t want to be transferred? Tell everyone I don’t want to be transferred, so they know he made it up? Part of me just wants to let it happen so I can get away from him. Rationally I know that I shouldn’t let someone else dictate my career, but we work closely together and I have a hard time seeing how I’ll ever get past this. I also worry that he’ll resent me for not leaving.

Oh my goodness, speak up.

Speak up to everyone involved! This guy is spreading false information about you, and you need to correct the record.

To your boss: “I’ve been told that Bob is telling people I want to transfer to the X department. I’m not sure why he thinks that, but I’ve let him know it’s not the case, and I wanted to make sure you know I’m very happy here and have no interest in transferring.”

To your other coworkers: “It’s bizarre that Bob is saying that, because I’ve told him clearly that I’m not interested in transferring. If you hear him saying it again, I’d appreciate it if you’d shut it down.”

And to Bob himself: “I’ve been told by multiple people that you’re saying I’m interested in transferring. I’ve told you directly I don’t want a transfer. Why are you telling people the opposite?” … followed by, “I’ll be very clear with you so there can’t be a misunderstanding: I’m not interested in transferring, and I need you to stop telling people I am.”

If he argues with you again and tries to convince you that you said you do want to transfer (!), say this: “What a bizarre thing to say. If you misunderstood earlier, that’s fine. But now that I’ve set you straight, you need to stop repeating this because it’s false.”

If he really digs in his heels, feel free to point out that trying to drive you off your team right after learning you’re undergoing chemo could expose your company to legal liability for disability discrimination.

You said you’re worried he’ll resent you for not leaving, but that’s putting entirely too much emphasis on Bob’s feelings. He should worry that you’re going to resent him for lying about you.

In fact, if he’s anything other than apologetic when you confront him, it’s worth going back to your boss and asking for her assistance in shutting it down.

If you had more evidence that Bob’s behavior is motivated by wanting your spot for his girlfriend, I’d share that with your boss too — but it sounds like that’s more speculation than something you can support with facts, so for now at least, I’d leave that out of it. (Although if your boss pushes you about why Bob might be doing this, you could raise it then, framed as “I wouldn’t have brought this up on my own but since you’re asking…”)

But speak up and push back. This dude is trying to manipulate you into leaving your job (while you’re in the middle of chemo, no less, which makes him particularly awful). And he’s doing it really badly, since his tracks are so obvious! Tell him no, and show him no with your actions.

{ 239 comments… read them below }

    1. Three Flowers*

      Yeah, I already desperately want an update. OP is being way nicer than this guy deserves and I can’t imagine the stress they’re under.

      1. Mimi Me*

        Agreed. I read this letter and kept thinking “Why is she so worried about his feelings? He isn’t worried about hers!”

        1. Sally*

          I assumed that the OP was concerned that Bob would make work miserable for her/him if he was upset, but yeah, if she’s just worried about hurting his feelings, she/he can stop worrying!

      1. MommieMD*

        Lol. True. And be very careful to whom you confide. Especially if they’ve already been doing sneaky things.

    2. Scott G*

      Kudos to you for realizing you are being gaslighted by someone and standing up to it!! We’re all pulling for you.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Interesting point not really highlighted by the letter. The LW seems to be close to “the idiot” because she confided to him about chemo when she did not feel comfortable telling her management/boss about the chemo.

      LW, he’s not your friend if he’s trying to get you transferred when you most assuredly don’t want to in order to get the intern with whom he has an unusually close relationship your job so you should stop sharing anything personal with him.

  1. Myrin*

    I’m always amused, alarmed, and astounded by fumbling, bumbling liars like that. Like. Dude. You’ve said this to OP in front of other people, who all clearly heard OP deny any wish to transfer. They only need to talk to her to find out that you’re wrong! This is not going to get traction and you’re going to earn a reputation for being a weirdo!

    1. Myrin*

      And of course, OP, I wish you well not only regarding this tool but regarding your health as well! This is really not something that you need right now!

    2. SJPxo*

      Exactly and now that Alison has given the OP good wording when speaking to this guy and to claudia for coworkers they’re going to think he’s awfully odd and if the chemo information came out down the line they’re going to think even lower of him!
      I hope OP shuts this down hard and weirdo coworker digs his own grave!
      Hopefully the OP will update when this is resolved (hopefully with a Happy ending!)

  2. Audrey Puffins*

    I have nothing helpful to add, I’m absolutely gobsmacked. OP, I hope your chemo goes well and that you’re as healthy as can be in as little time as possible, and I hope that Bob backs the hell off!

  3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Wait, so OP’s coworker is married and has a girlfriend? So he’s trying to get you out so his lover occupies your position?
    And on top of all, you’re under chemo.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      That’s how I’m reading this, yeah. Which… makes it even worse than it already was because if he succeeds, that is just begging for massive drama.

    2. RC Rascal*

      I once read the difference between a criminal and an average person is that where the average person sees a boundary, the criminal sees an obstacle standing between him and the thing he wants. This situation exemplifies that sentiment. Where an average person sees someone else’s job as belonging to that person, this guy see’s OP as the thing standing between him and a cozy arrangement with his girl on the side.

      1. Luke*

        This sounds a lot like something I’ve read about sociopaths: other people aren’t “real” to them. To the sociopath, another person is either a tool they can use to get something they want, or an obstacle standing between them and something they want.

    3. EggEgg*

      Also, if I’m reading this right, the “girlfriend” is an intern at the company? So the coworker is telling people he works with that he has the hots for an intern?

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Not telling people; the LW said she’d seen the woman’s makeup on his shirt and that they had been almost-caught getting very close to each other.

        1. Horseshoe*

          OP also added: “Rumor has it that he has told other coworkers about his feelings for her, but he hasn’t confided in me, probably because he knows I wouldn’t approve.”

          1. Devil Fish*

            This phrasing kind of makes it sound like the intern might not know? Based on what OP’s observed, they clearly like each other but makeup on the shirt could be from a hug (not super appropriate but also not duck clubbing) and if the intern knows Bob’s married she might be thinking it’s a harmless workplace crush she has on an interesting colleague.

            (I’ve, uh, been there and it was not obvious to me at all that the married dude wanted to bang me too even though everyone else could see it. I wasn’t really on board with banging married dudes anyway but my god it was embarrassing when I started overhearing the rumors.)

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah, Bob sounds like a pretty horrible human in too many ways to count.

      OP, I guarantee you will have your coworkers on your side. Even the chemo and the fact that you don’t want to transfer notwithstanding, if I were given a choice of who I’d rather have on my team and who would I find easier to work with – a teammate that I already have, or my other married coworker’s lover, who is being shoved into a position on my team so she stays closer to him – my choice would be pretty obvious.

      1. Laurelma01*

        You need to shut this down, but I also think you need to go to HR about the relationship with the intern. He may be singing another tune if HR and management gets on to him about having a relationship with an intern. Depending on company policies, this could get him a formal write up.

        1. morrow was the hardest place i'd ever try to go*

          I missed that the suspected girlfriend was an intern. Yeah that… that changes things. HR needs to know.

          1. JSPA*

            Depends slightly on
            a) age of intern
            b) chain of command
            c) whether the relationship predates the internship (and whether he played any role in the intern getting the internship, and whether the personal connection was disclosed, if so)
            d) company policy on dating within the workplace

            depends more seriously on whether OP has a shred of evidence (proving whose makeup is on someone else’s face isn’t a thing, unless you’re in forensics; and hearsay is hearsay).

            It’s still gross if she’s an adult…and not in his chain of command…and if the relationship predates the internship…and he had nothing to do in getting the internship (or disclosed the personal connection)…and there’s no company policy against the dating. But it’s a different level of actionable if he’s preying on interns in his chain of command (to the point of saying, “I have no direct evidence, but circumstantial evidence has reached the point that someone should make inquiries”).

            1. Laurelma*

              Agreed. After everything in the news lately about men preying on female co-workers, and subordinates that he would think twice before getting involved with an intern. If companies are using interns they should have a formal policy that staff do not date interns. It’s another can of worms if he’s in her chain of command, or has say in future hiring.

        2. The Bean*

          And even if she wasn’t an intern, secret relationships like this are bad for precisely situations like the LW’s. People aren’t objective about the secret lover, but officially no one knows they’re not objective. I’ve witnessed TWO instances in two different grad programs where this dynamic did a lot of damage to the other grad students because the grad student or more junior professor having the affair with the person in charge of the program was a bully but there was no one who could stop her.

          (The first time I was just an freshman undergrad not majoring in the subject but taking classes so it didn’t effect me but it was so blatent even I noticed independently and then subsequently had it confirmed by gossip and eventually by the news. She walked his distinctive dog at 6 am for crying out loud)

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Sounds like it but that’s really all besides the point. Yes it seems to be his motivation for trying to get OP transferred, but it’s all speculation on OP’s part and shouldn’t enter into the conversation unless OP’s boss pushes for the why as Alison suggested. Even at that point I’d emphasize that OP has no clear evidence and that it’s only based on observation.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Exactly — even in a fairly functional workplace, you want to be objective and avoid speculation or sounding biased. Just point out his problematic behavior (lying in a way detrimental to a coworker and the company), and let HR or management look into it.

        At least, that was my thinking before someone upthread pointed out that the GF is an intern! But then, I would treat that as a totally separate workplace issue, really, and maybe report that after reporting the lying and sabotage (trying to get the LW transferred against her will sounds like career sabotage to me).

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          Yes. I think bringing up the “girlfriend” could backfire on OP. I’ve known Bobs, who think they’re irresistible to all women, and who would spin this as – OP is attracted to me and is jealous/projecting here, and OP gets painted as an “emotional woman type”.

          Also a risk that the OP goes to boss and says “Bob is telling people I want to transfer so the intern he’s schtupping can have my job” and boss hears: the problem is bob schtupping the intern.

          I do think schtupping the intern is problematic due to her being an intern, but address it as a separate issue.

          Better to focus on the easily verifiable facts: OP doesn’t want to transfer, and Bob is telling people otherwise.

          1. JSPA*

            Yep. OP protecting interns and the company reputation are something OP would be doing from a sense of social responsibility. OP protecting OP is something OP should do from self-preservation and self-respect.

            Strategically, however, unless OP thinks they’d do better filing a lawsuit for health discrimination, it might actually be useful for OP to have a ready-made reason for “why he might be trying to move me out” that ISN’T “cancer/chemo.” And if OP says nothing as to reason, OP does run the risk of, “boss will see conflict between two previously-close team-mates as some sort of personal-emotional thing, and get on board with the transfer as a conflict-avoidance thing.”

            OP might want to disclose “Colleague is aware that I presently have what I expect is a temporary health issue, and has become oddly paternalistic and pushy about my professional options. Whether or not it comes from an intent to be supportive, it’s actually hugely wrong-headed, misinformed and undermining.”

            This poses OP as the reasonable person.

            It names the problem (co-worker making choices for OP). It should raise the spectre of discrimination, without naming it. (alternatively, OP could name it: “…misinformed, undermining, and potentially discriminatory.”)

            It leaves open the option of mentioning the hypothetical intern thing as an unbelievable non-reason at some later date.

            And it keep the focus where it belongs: coworker is doing something incredibly strange regarding OP, and it has to stop.

    6. Trashida Jones*

      I think Alison is right to minimize that aspect of the situation–it doesn’t sound like OP knows this to be true, only that they suspect it to be true. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true, but when there are so many other problematic aspects of the situation that OP is solid on, I think it’s best to start there.

  4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*


    Alison’s advice is awesome. Just keep correcting the gaslighting and claim the power he’s trying to use against you. You need power to get healthy.

    And be glad that you’re neither wife nor girlfriend, because I bet they get it even worse. I’m not sure I’d be able to trust this coworker’s word for anything.

  5. CBH*

    Wow… I seriously don’t know what to say. The nerve of your coworker!

    I’m totally joking when I say this, but I keep imagining a revenge scenario where he asks you infront of other coworkers and said intern (who is probably in on the whole let’s-transfer-OP-scheme) if you want to transfer; you reply no and further respond along the lines of you keep asking me if I’m transfering; it’s almost as if your pushing me out so your wife can have my position… and now watch intern and coworker turn red

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      But it’s not his wife wanting the position, it’s the girlfriend, right? Even worse.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        . . . that’s exactly why you say “wife”: It pretends you don’t know about the girlfriend and also reminds both he and the girlfriend that he’s married.

    2. Heidi*

      What I might say: “Not sure how this misunderstanding got started, but I’m glad we’re setting the record straight now.”

      Fantasy response: “Well I’VE heard a couple people say that you’re trying to drive me out so that the intern you’re cheating on your wife with can steal my job. Not sure how that misunderstanding got started, but I’m glad we’re setting the record straight now.”

    3. AKchic*

      or openly ask if he has someone else in mind for your position and then look directly at the intern with a knowing glance, and then back at him, one eyebrow raised, as if to say “you aren’t hiding anything”.

      Then “you need to stop with this idea that I plan to go anywhere. I don’t. I don’t want to hear anything more about it. If I do, upper management and HR will hear about the ongoing pressure you’re attempting to put on me.”

      There is no reason to sugarcoat anything to sooth *his* feelings. He has no qualms about hurting yours. Anything you do to protect your position that he gets angry about is his own (personal and professional) problem to deal with, and anything he does against you after that is retaliation, which you will be protected against if you talk to management.
      In fact, DO tell HR about your chemo. You may not need accommodations, but at some point, *he* may try to use it against you. I.e., “her work is slipping, I’d like to put her on a PIP” and try to manage you out since he can’t get you to transfer; even if your work isn’t actually slipping.

    4. Laurelma01*

      The thing that gets me is when men start gaslighting you, be it at work or in your private relationships, is that they think you’re too stupid to see through it. Or are overconfident in their ‘smoothness.’ Than act offended when called on it. I would mention something about the wife in passing so that the in-house girlfriend hears it.

    5. Amethyst*

      I’d be hard pressed not to reply along the same lines! “Bob, stop trying to push me out so you can have your girlfriend/side piece doing my job. I’m not leaving. If you want to work with your girlfriend, how about YOU transfer to HER department, & leave all of us out of your mess.”

      …The above is just an example of why I never want to be a manager. I can be way too blunt, lol.

      1. JSPA*

        Uh, “side piece”? What decade or century are we in, where we use this sort of terminology to slag interns, in passing, for being preyed on by men in power, while laughing at the idea that it’s more or less OK to do that? There’s also a factual problem here: we have no reason to think that the intern is in another department. In fact, that’s part of the problem of them being an item, at all.

        And finally, it’s strategic kryptonite. Bob is already hiding the relationship. Bob apparently already has adequate motivation to mess with OP (whether it’s the GF, or his intent to not have to deal with OP’s illness and chemo, or Bob’s always been a manipulative ass who does this crap for fun, and OP’s only now realizing). And having a blow out fight over an accusation that Bob basically HAS TO deny raises the stakes on the wrong issue, giving Bob every reason to go to management and say, “OP is making wild personal accusations and using disgusting sexist language, there’s no way we can work together after this.”

      2. VeryAnon*

        I think we should focus on the manipulative grown married man who’s taking advantage of the teenager, rather than blaming the unpaid, naive kid who may or may not know what Bob is up to.

    6. VictorianCowgirl*

      I really like this, especially since the intern may not know he’s married, and that is information she needs.

  6. Amber Rose*

    Gross. What a scumbag, definitely don’t worry about HIS feelings. He SHOULD feel bad.

    As for whether you can work with him going forward, well, that might be a good reason to loop in your boss at some point about what’s all going on, and maybe you can be moved away from him slightly. Until then, I would master the Professional Ice Queen persona and not confide anything to this guy ever again.

    1. Just Elle*

      x1000 to never confiding anything to this guy again.

      I might be reading something that isn’t here, but it sounds like this guy has bad boundaries not just with the intern, but with everyone on the team including you. This workplace reeks of “But we’re like a fammmilllyyyy.”
      The way you feel some kind of obligation to not upset him. The way he ‘confides’ in people that he’s into the intern. The fact that he’s acted on his feeling for the intern. The fact you felt like you could confide in him about your chemo. The way the gossip about you leaving has been spread around.

      This person is not your friend. Repeat, not your friend. He is a pushy boundary pusher and potentially so is everyone else at your place of employment and you need to set your own not-pushed-boundaries with him and hold firm. This is not normal. Repeat, not normal, workplace behavior. You are not best friends at a sleepover. You are colleagues bound together only by place of employment.

    2. Laurelma01*

      So true. If she goes to management and HR about the guy, he might be the one transferring. It’ll get rid of the problem. Also, this is a form of harassment. If she’s older, she could say it’s age discrimination. Run off the older more experienced woman and move a younger woman into her place.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Haha, that’s what she should say if the dude comes back with “But I just want an open position in our department for this incredibly deserving temp!”

  7. Classic Rando*

    This is definitely something you want to bring to your manager. If he hasn’t said anything to her yet, she’ll be prepared if/when he does, and if she’s already heard about your fabricated desire to move you can set the record straight. But you definitely definitely definitely need to talk with management immediately.

  8. Sharkie*

    OP PLEASE speak up! This is wrong on multiple levels. Stop thinking about him resenting you and take care of you. I hope your chemo goes well.

  9. EPLawyer*

    When you talk to Bob, state “As I have told you, and as I told our boss, I am not interested in transferring.” This way he knows the Boss is aware of your position.

    Bob is being insane. If he does resent you for not letting his girlfriend take your job, that is on him. If he acts on that resentment, you can deal with it. Again, looping in the Boss if necessary.

    Bob only has as much power over your career as you give him. Stop thinking about WHY he might be doing this or his reaction to you not doing what HE wants. Do what you need to do for your career.

  10. pally*

    And please, if nothing else, don’t ever confide anything else to Bob again. He’ll try to use it against you.

    Best wishes the chemo goes well for you. And that this situation causes no further upset for you.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. He doesn’t need to know anything other than you are not transferring and don’t like his behavior.

    1. MistOrMister*

      Yes, I was going to say the same thing!! Bob absolutely cannot be trusted with any of OP’s personal information. If he’s willing to spread around false news, there is no reason to expect he will keep anything else to himself. Someone who is going around doing this is clearly not OP’s friend and should noy be treated as such.

    2. Quill*

      If I read this right he started this campaign after learning about the chemo, which is an enormous red flag for me: he thinks he can push forward with this because OP is sick, and maybe even that *of course* people will want to bring his healthy paramour on to replace OP.

  11. RUKiddingMe*

    What’s *wrong* with people (i.e. Bob)? Nevermind… just a rhetorical question.

    Yes, OP please spread it far and wide especially to your boss that you fo not want to leave and that Bob is a liar liar pants on fire guy! The nerve!!!

    If she asks why he’s doing it I’d have no problem saying that I thought it was because of his “girlfriend” but yeah only if she asks…unless he escalates.

    And like Alison said, screw his feelings. He is trying to torpedo *you* for his own gain.

    He cares not one iota about you…even knowing you are on chemo. He has zero room for any consideration or sympathy, or anything else being given him. He’s a douche of atomic proportions.

    I know you haven’t disclosed your medical info, and don’t if you don’t want to, but if it were me I think I’d say something like “as an aside, but relevant thing, I haven’t disclosed this because thus far I’ve not needed any accommodations but I am currently undergoing chemo. Bob knows this and is still harassing me/spreading lies which I find especially egregious.”

    *Holy run in sentence Batman!*

    1. Artemesia*

      Having unwisely shared your private medical information with this guy, he is now prepared to weaponize it. I think you have no choice but to pre-empt that by discussing it with your own boss. Better you control the narrative than let him have this to hang over you. I can imagine many ways someone could use this to undermine you while trying to appear ‘sympathetic.’

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This is a good point. Even though OP doesn’t need any accommodations at this point, they need to control the narrative around the chemo and everything else.

        1. Quill*

          Bob: “Yeah, OP won’t be here, poor thing, chemo must be so hard on her,”
          Boss: “Chemo?”
          Bob: “You mean you didn’t know? I thought she’d have told you already…”

          Bob sounds like someone who has a lot of practice positioning *Other* people as unreliable or unbelievable. Get ahead of him, because all other things equal, people believe the first story they hear, not a correction.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Completely agree – it’s time to loop the boss in, BEFORE Bob starts to make this about your health concerns, OP. Right now, he’s focused on transferring you, but if that doesn’t work, he may just try to get you edged out entirely.

        I would have another chat with your boss, disclose that you’re doing chemo, reassure the boss that you are capable of doing your job at this time and will inform him/her if you need accommodations. And then I would follow that up with an email to the boss, so you have a time stamp on when you disclosed this information.

        1. Mama Bear*

          Agreed. Get ahead of that cart now. I agree to remember that Bob is doing all this *knowing* that OP is getting chemo. He doesn’t care. OP needs not care about his feelings.

          OP doesn’t need to ask for accommodations, but treatment can change very suddenly and OP/boss should be prepared if it does. I’d also continually underline that OP does not want to transfer, and Bob is out of line. Bob is counting on wearing OP down – don’t let him do it. He’s the one in the wrong.

      3. Lauren*

        He will quickly start lying saying the chemo is affecting OPs work or that she isn’t up to par now before the official disclosure. OP needs to disclose to HR now, and say you are worried about retaliation. Heck, say you think this transfer nonsense is retaliation and that you are feeling pushed out based on your cancer diagnosis. Any HR with a brain will shut this down and remove the manager from any employee reviews for OP. Cut him off NOW! He is a proven liar. You are not under any obligation to cater to his feelings or going to him before HR. You would be perfectly justified going to HR and say … this is bizarre and its making me think i should get a lawyer … (HR sometimes only responds to extremes).

    2. JSPA*

      It’s not impossible that OP is more affected than OP knows; the mental stress alone has effects, and chemo brain is a thing that can creep up.

      OP presumably needs the health care more than anything.

      OP may have some sense of how their workplace deals with people who are not at 100% for health reasons; OP may or more likely may not want to have to fight a discrimination lawsuit, if OP’s workplace might be…not great, or in fact, actively problematic, as far as violating the law.

      OP needs to take all these things into account.

  12. voyager1*

    Married is he? Because of your heath situation and because of the blunt narcissist this guy is, I would so let his wife know what is going on. Yeah I know that won’t be a popular opinion on here, but honestly it is what I would do.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Hard pass on this one. It’s never a good idea to involve spouses in office conflicts. It opens you up to a lot of potential issues.

      1. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

        Absolutely. Right now, the LW is the one being wronged in this situation, and as soon as she retaliates against it turns into cluster of two coworkers trying to screw each other over.

        1. Ted Mosby*

          Agreed. Don’t not do it because he doesn’t deserve it. He’s trash, and he deserves to be fired if he’s taking advantage of interns and betraying his wife while trying to push out a sick coworker. But if you get involved in his drama it twists the narrative. Maybe you’re crazy if you’re in his crazy. Don’t open that door. Keep your hands clean; his certinatly are not.

      2. earl grey aficionado*

        Yeah, the last thing OP needs right now is more drama. It’s satisfying to imagine this guy getting his just desserts but bringing his wife into it is going to open a big can of exhausting drama worms (and it could cede the ethical upper hand OP has right now – not that I think talking to his wife is inherently unethical, but it’s not good to look like you’re stirring the pot at work).

      3. Quill*

        Overall, you have no concrete proof that 1) his wife is being decieved (open relationships do exist) or that 2) she’d believe you, a random coworker, over him. Don’t go there.

        1. iantrovert (they/them)*

          In the case that she IS being deceived, she should get tested for STIs, especially since this may not be the first/only time Bob’s slept around behind her back. If it’s an open relationship, presumably she already is getting tested regularly. Many STIs are asymptomatic, and even the HPV vaccine doesn’t cover all strains, just a common subset. Getting treated sooner can make a difference.

          I’m team Factual Anonymous Typed Letter To The Wife on this one. Not to cause drama–which may nonetheless be an unfortunate side effect–but because someone’s health may be at risk.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The real shitheel inside me is team-tell his wife but the side of me that keeps me from just going nuclear every single time someone gets to Bob level of audacity says no, don’t do it. That dog will get his fleas, you don’t need to say anything, everyone else knows after all, it’s really not a good secret.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      This is the perfect situation for The Anonymous Letter, honestly. Mail it to Bob’s wife from the mailbox/post office nearest to the office, address and letter typed so there’s no handwriting in play.

      I guarantee that OP is not the only person in the company who knows this and is annoyed at Bob over his crappy behavior regarding the intern, so there will be lots of suspects.

    4. FormerFirstTimer*

      I don’t know if I’d go that far. However, when telling my manager, I would be extremely blunt as to why he’s trying to shove me out. I’m going to guess shtupping interns is frowned upon.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I couldn’t disagree with this suggestion more. The affair part of this is 100% NOT OP’s business, and shouldn’t even be brought to anyone’s attention regarding his telling everyone OP wants to transfer (unless boss insists on the why as Alison suggested). It is pure speculation, and will only bite the OP in the ass if she starts telling people (especially the wife) about it. OP needs to focus on everyone understanding that they have no desire to transfer at this point in time.

      1. Quill*

        Even if his *secret* wasn’t evidence of actual wrongdoing, if Bob has already gotten ahead of you he will use this to make you the villain. It looks like hitting back, when no one saw him hit you the first time.

        Source: childhood of being bullied, you ALWAYS get punished for retaliating and the original transgressor gets away with it because they get to chose their time.

    6. Half-Caf Latte*

      Practically, the problem with OP doing this is that it makes it look like she is more concerned with Bob’s personal life than with Bob’s actions which are impacting her work environment, and weakens her position.

      I feel for Bob’s wife here, but OP needs to stay in her lane.

    7. Malarkey01*

      Hard no to this. This would reflect back on you and managements opinion of your judgement to involve spouses in office gossip. Also all you have to go on is they jump apart when people enter a room (maybe they are talking about people and are caught gossiping when they move away) and that you’ve seen her makeup on his face (which just reads really really weird to me) and that there’s a rumor he told someone who told you he liked her. None of this is sufficient to bring up to your boss without looking dramatic yourself.

  13. I am an Owl*

    I find using the word “weird” makes people back off. “It’s really weird that you keep telling people I want to transfer when I don’t”. Just a thought

    1. Hyacinth Bucket (Pronounced Bouquet!)*

      I started using “It’s so weird that you keep doing/saying X” as my go-to after Alison suggested it a while ago. It’s been so helpful to me in all kinds of situations. I actually shared it with my mom after a family “friend” was fixated on whether my sister was a lesbian because she’s works in an LGBTQIA advocacy program. It made me so proud to hear her tell him it was weird he was so fixated on who my sister dated, and maybe it was because his own love life was so unsatisfying? +1 to Mama Bucket

      1. Freckles McGee*

        “It made me so proud to hear her tell him it was weird he was so fixated on who my sister dated, and maybe it was because his own love life was so unsatisfying? +1 to Mama Bucket”

        Mama Bucket’s ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to her newsletter…

  14. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP — Yes to all the above comments. Memorize Alison’s scripts, then cultivate an attitude of cool contempt — how silly of Bob to make that assumption! OF COURSE, you’re not interested in transferring.

    I know you didn’t ask for advice about your health, but…I completed chemo and radiation therapy last year. It’s great that you’ve tolerated chemo so well, but it can wear you down gradually. If you don’t want to talk to your boss about it yet, I’d really recommend that you talk with your HR person and get paperwork completed for FMLA. (Your oncologist can fill it out for you.) You may not need it — I didn’t — but it’s much better to have accommodation in place and not need it, then to need it and not have it.

    So go forth and swat Bob, and take care of yourself. Good luck!

    1. RC Rascal*

      I strongly recommend you disclose the chemo to both your boss and HR. Document the disclosure. In the event this guy gets worse (which is where I am placing my bets), then the employer will be alerted to the fact there is a legal situation brewing.

      1. Laurelma01*

        Not just disclose, feel out the American disability act paperwork for accommodation. Even if you are feeling fine now, that can change.

    2. Mama Bear*

      Agreed. Take steps to take care of yourself and let the chips fall where they may about Bob. Your priority is you, no matter what Bob thinks about it.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed—better to disclose and invoke protection against things like being transferred (!) than to wait for Bob to start spreading rumors about OP’s health.

    4. Colleen Anna*

      I agree with getting FMLA paperwork done. That way if he succeeds in getting you transferred to a position you don’t want, you can claim FMLA retaliation.

  15. Observer*

    Firstly, you should totally NOT worry about his resenting you. On the other hand, whatever happens, watch you back with this guy. He’s proven multiple ways that he is totally NOT trustworthy.

    It might be useful to tell him to quit it in front of others, so that he can’t try to argue later that you never told him or that you said something other than what you said. If (or when) he tries to argue about what you want tell him that “It’s utterly bizarre that you are trying to tell me what I think. *I* am the one who knows what I think, not you.” And if he tries to tell you what is supposedly in your best interests, don’t argue back, just tell him “That is MY decision to make, not yours. I don’t want this transfer and it’s not up for discussion.” Repeat both as needed.

    Follow this up with an email, bcc’ed to your work address, a private non-work addres and CC’ed to your boss so they know what’s up with this guy.

    Because even without the chemo bit or the girlfriend, what he’s doing is gross and sleazy, and the boss should be aware of how untrustworthy he is.

  16. Scarlet*

    What a jerk. I concur with Alison’s advice and would also like to point out that you should feel free to be open with your other coworkers as well about your lack of interest in transferring. Presumably they know about his girlfriend situation and would be appalled at what he’s trying to do. This guy deserves the karma that is inevitably coming his way. Good luck, OP! Please keep us posted.

  17. Kahunabob*

    OP first off – good luck with your chemo. Best wishes, speedy recovery and all those good vibes!
    And please speak up. Stand up for yourself. As for your co-worker… the less said, the better. Just make sure that what is said bites him in the gonads, since that seems to be the part of his ‘brain’ he’s thinking with.

  18. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Nope. You are not crazy. He is sabotaging your career and credibility. He is being manipulative and cruel. Yes, he will resent you. So effing what? He’s a piece of work if he thinks he can blatantly lie about you and you will do nothing. Then again he probably thinks 1) his wife won’t find out about his girlfriend; 2) if she does, wife will blame her because he does nothing wrong.
    Shut this down. Now.
    And good luck with chemo. My sister just finished her second round, so you ring that bell, OP!!!

  19. Frankie*

    OP, please speak up, as Alison suggests! This manipulation has the benefit of being really overt–some of it’s literally to your face–so make the most of that and be direct and shut it down. You can’t control whether he’ll do other sneaky stuff in the future, but you can set the record straight on this and if your manager is a good one, it’ll signal that this guy needs more oversight and can’t necessarily be fully trusted.

  20. ChimericalOne*

    Don’t worry about his feelings, and don’t use his feelings as an excuse to take the transfer (along the lines of “not being able to work with him again”). You never know what your coworkers will be like in a new role, and hopefully you can manage “chilly but professional” with him — that’s all you need! If he is suitably chastised by your boss, maybe you’ll get lucky & he’ll even quit & flee the environment where he so embarrassed himself.

    1. pally*

      In a similar vein, it’s not OP’s (or anyone’s) burden to manage another employee’s feelings.
      When making career decisions, decide what’s best for you, OP. Not someone else.
      We’re all grown-ups here, capable of managing our feelings. That should be the expectation, anyways.

  21. BurnBurnBurn*

    Bob sounds like my old boss. i.e. creating positions on the team for young pretty waitresses he met at bars; pushing out qualified people for either no reason or non-existent ‘performance’ issues. I was one of those people, and others jokingly (or not jokingly) said the real reason was probably because I knew his wife outside of work. The team was also 90% male and 95% white, but that’s another story all together.

    Please speak up OP. Don’t let people like this push you around. And best of luck with your chemo.

  22. LGC*

    LW, I hope you made this up for your sake – because your coworker is probably the worst person ever written about on AAM (and we’ve had some doozies).

    But like, also – he’s dating an intern?! Like, I thought this couldn’t get worse, and then I read it over again and I realized exactly what was going on. I’m almost tempted to tell you to tip them off even if you don’t have solid proof because that’s just another level of messed up.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My mind is blown that he’s been telling people about it. Bob seems to think he’s invincible. I really hope he’s not.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        This is exactly my take on Bob. OP writes that Bob will resent him/her like this is a tangible work issue. Refill the copier, turn off the coffee pot, don’t microwave fish, don’t piss off Bob. Why not? Is he going to act on that? More than he is already actively hurting OP’s career?

        1. Quill*

          Right, it’s not like he’s not actively lying about OP to team members and trying to get them removed from the… oh yeah.

          Yes, he could escalate from there but honestly? he’s already at the top level of stuff he’s likely to get away with.

    2. Yorick*

      OP should definitely report Bob’s interactions with the intern. This is seriously inappropriate. Sure, OP doesn’t know for certain, but if an investigation finds nothing’s going on then Bob will be fine.

      1. BeckySuz*

        Yes I’m of the opinion that someone should be reporting this guy for banging the intern. This is not a good look for the company if it gets out. Even if he wasn’t being a total gaslighting wanker to the OP he’d still be wrong for taking up with the intern. And his predatory behavior could give the business a bad reputation. And it is predatory, because even if the intern is a willing adult, the circumstances and power differential dictate that he should know better and behave professionally

        1. BeckySuz*

          However, I do agree with other commenters saying OP should go now to boss and HR to get ahead of the chemo thing and lay the groundwork for the truth so his lies can’t take hold

  23. Chili*

    I agree with all of Alison’s advice except the hesitance to bring up Bob’s potential affair with an intern. I guess I don’t know how high up in the hierarchy Bob is or if the girlfriend is an undergraduate or graduate intern, but I feel like inappropriate relationships with interns allow for a lower threshold to raise alarms because the power dynamic is so skewed. I know LW doesn’t know for sure that there’s an affair going on, but there’s a difference between gossiping and raising a concern to your boss. If it turns out this is all true, Bob IS having an relationship with the intern and is trying to manipulate LW into transferring, he should be fired! That’s all so inappropriate and demonstrates his professional boundaries are so out of whack.

    1. LGC*

      I think that it’s partly because this is so serious. It does seem like the evidence is circumstantial – Fergus has makeup on his face, he seems to act a bit suspiciously around Jane – so I think that’s why Alison advised caution.

      1. Chili*

        In my opinion, because it is so serious, it is even more important to bring in management early. If I were the intern or an innocent Bob in this scenario, I’d rather have management ask me about it, investigate, and then set the record straight instead of being caught in the office rumor mill like they are now.

        1. LGC*

          True, but at this point I couldn’t care less about Bob’s feelings if I tried.

          Lucette goes into it, but it could easily be a distraction. I can easily see OP mentioning that Bob’s pushing her out for his girlfriend the intern and the story becomes about Bob dating the intern as opposed to Bob shoving OP out the door (while she’s on chemo, no less). I mean, I’ll admit – the fact he was dating an intern was what caught my attention the most. So while I’d love to see Bob get nailed for dating an intern, I’m afraid it might turn into a circus.

      2. RC Rascal*

        Magic words for this “ Bob’s relationship with Intern Monica seems to violate professional boundaries.”

    2. Yorick*

      I agree that I wouldn’t bring it up in the context of the transfer thing. But I would for sure report it to the appropriate people.

  24. almost empty nester*

    Confront him with others present so that you have witnesses. Someone who is actively trying to gaslight you must not be trusted. Also, no worries at all about his opinion of you. He’s thinking with “little Bob” at the moment, so I wouldn’t hesitate to jolt him out of his narcissistic fog. Also tell your manager, since some version of this transfer nonsense is bound to reach them sooner or later. Alison’s scripts are perfect, as usual.

  25. Morning Glory*

    So this is a full-time, adult married coworker who is sleeping with a young, student intern, and has most likely communicated to this intern that he can influence her professional future at this company. Possibly as a quid pro quo.
    I think you absolutely should raise this in your complaint- he sounds like a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


      OP, even aside from whether or not you want to transfer (which is a doozy in its own right, don’t get me wrong), Bob’s conduct with this intern sounds at best incredibly sketchy, and all by itself is something to flag to your manager. The fact that it combines with his bizarre pressure on you to transfer to this other department… it’s a whole burrito makes of yikes.

      1. Quill*

        Just don’t let it get connected to the transfer thing, because people like bob WILL try to spin it as retaliation because *you* are the one bullying little old them.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I was coming here to say this. Let them investigate. But most certainly let them know that a coworker is spreading falsehoods about you leaving.
      Do it fast. Do it now. Don’t let the rumor take hold.

  26. Lee*

    This is kind of like when Michael Scott tried to convince Dwight that the bad idea was actually Dwight’s and not Michael’s (even though everyone in “The Office” heard and saw Michael talk about his idea). Good luck, OP. Sending lots of good thoughts your way.

  27. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Tell every single person that this guy is a liar. He’s such a lowlife, you have to now tell everyone else about your chemo because he’s going to spill it and make it sound like whatever he feels like. He’s shown you who he is, believe him, protect yourself.

  28. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

    Ugh. Who’s even to say that if the LW transferred departments that the girlfriend would even get the job? Maybe they would hire from the outside, or somebody from another department would want it, or that they’d decide to fill the vacancy.

    I’m very familiar with Bob. Part of the dynamic between Bob and his girlfriend I’m betting for him is that he needs his girlfriend to see him as older, wiser, richer, and more powerful because that’s an ego stroke for him. So he’s told her he can get her hired on that team because he needs her to believe he can wield that kind of power.

  29. Lucette Kensack*

    I would strongly suggest not saying anything about the “girlfriend,” even if you are given an opening to do so. You have a strong argument that this dude is lying about you; your complaint will get muddled (and you’ll make yourself part of the drama) if you start rumors about his relationship with the intern.

    From what you’ve said in the letter, the “evidence” that she is his girlfriend is that they move away from each other when someone comes into a room (and that you have seen makeup on his face). You don’t say anything about why you think it’s because he’s trying to give her your job (just that she’s an intern).

    The part about what he’s doing to you is clearly wrong. Stick with that.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        I’m so torn!

        On the one hand: If the colleague is really “in a relationship” with an intern who he has a hierarchical relationship with, the employer needs to get involved right away, protect the intern, and discipline the colleague.

        On the other hand: We don’t know what the (professional, hierarchical) relationship between the colleague and the intern is. (Does she report to him? That’s very different than if, she is, say, a summer MBA intern working in corporate finance and he’s a graphic designer on the social media team). The LW also didn’t really offer an evidence, unless I’m missing something. “They sometimes make a quick startled movement when I walk into the room” isn’t compelling.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Per the letter he has confided in others he has feelings for the intern. That’s enough coupled with what she has seen.

          Doesn’t matter if she is in his chain of command or not. The Intern might not know that Social Media guy really doesn’t have the power he claims he has. That’s why messing with interns is a no-no most places. They don’t have the experience to know what their rights are. So you don’t even put in the position of having to figure out if they are being harassed or not.

          Of course, the Intern might be all fine with her bully boyfriend getting her a permanent job. But either way, it needs to be brought up. Not accusatory, not as a way to get even with Bob for lying but just as a “this is what I saw, this is what I heard, I think you should know” kinda thing. Let boss decide if it merits an investigation or not.

        2. Yorick*

          “Her makeup is sometimes on his face” and “he’s told coworkers about his feelings for her” might be pretty darn compelling, depending on specifics.

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      I’m with Lucette here. OP has a verifiable issue, and the evidence of affair, at least as presented here, is pretty mild.

      The risk to the OP in bringing in the “girlfriend” issue is not only in being seen as stirring drama, but that if the coworkers who heard about the feelings won’t go on the record about it, OP’s motivations can come into question here.

      I’d love to see sexual harrassment reported, but I can’t help but wonder why none of the other people with more firsthand info aren’t reporting, and why it’s falling to OP here?

  30. Lauren*

    Ok, OP – go to the intern and say ‘so i hear from your boyfriend that you’re going to apply for my job when i transfer to x dept”. Wait for her to excitingly say yes – ie confirming that is the plan and that your manager is her bf. At that point, tell her straight up for confirming that he is violating company policy for dating a subordinate and that he is still telling people that you are transferring when in fact you are not. Then ask her to go with you to HR to make sure her side of the story is told vs. the manager. I suspect he will suddenly throw the intern under the bus.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Nah. The intern will say “no, I am not applying and I don’t have a boyfriend, but congratulations on your transfer” and then what?

      1. MCL*

        This. The intern isn’t directly instigating any of this as far as I can tell from the letter. The OP is just speculating on the intern being the reason for him pushing the transfer, and it’s possible the intern doesn’t even know what’s going on. It would be pretty crappy to blame the intern for Bob’s poor behavior. That is on Bob and Bob alone.

    2. Observer*

      That’s just a gross thing to do. And it will NOT help the OP. Even in the unlikely event that the inter reacts in the way that your script requires.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This is some really bad advice. The OP needs to focus on what Bob is doing to them directly and not the supposed affair, that at this point is speculation.

    4. morrow was the hardest place i'd ever try to go*

      The intern is not the problem in this situation. Don’t drag her into this.

    5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah, echoing the others here – don’t bring the intern into this. At most from what OP has said the intern is only peripherally involved – don’t pull her in more.
      However, do go to manager/HR and get the chemo on record in case you need FMLA in the future and also on record that you aren’t interested in transferring jobs.

  31. Naomi*

    Will Bob resent you for not leaving? Well… sure, that might happen, but you can’t let yourself be held hostage to his potential resentment. If he’s going to resent you for behaving reasonably, you don’t have to change your behavior to please him.

    But I get that you’re worried about if he tries to make your work life difficult because of this… which is one more reason to speak up to your boss! Then if he causes more problems later, you can point out the pattern and that Bob seems to be trying to push you out of your job.

    1. Mockingjay*

      People like Bob resent EVERYONE. If the OP isn’t on his radar, someone else would be.

      Follow the good advice here to shut Bob down publicly and inform your manager. Keep to the facts: you’re not transferring, you’re undergoing chemo, you’re not requesting accommodations at this time, and you’ll inform Boss should that change. Request that your manager handle any issues with Bob going forward.

      Best wishes for you during your treatment!

  32. mf*

    Honestly, I’d consider calling Bob out on his behavior, especially the girlfriend thing. He needs to know that you see VERY clearly what he’s trying to do and you are not going to play along. “Bob, you need to stop telling people I want to transfer. I do not want to transfer. I’m not going to change positions just so your girlfriend can take my job. I’m very happy where I am so you need to stop spreading lies about me.”

  33. Amber*

    Please tell both your boss and coworkers that you do not wish to transfer. If Bob’s version of events is the only version they’ve heard (even if it’s a straight-up lie) they won’t assume it’s not true.

  34. MistOrMister*

    I am curious as to how many people are on this team/in this department. Why is Bob only doing this with OP? Why isn’t he feeling out everyone to see if he can convince one of them to leave?

    OP, absolutely I would not worry about his feelings here. He is being really bizarre. If he DOES resent you for choosing not to leave a position you like, that tells you more about him than about you! It’s at the point where it seems like he’s trying to gaslight you into leaving. If he does start acting resentful when you don’t leave, make sure you document that and take it to the boss so it can be handled! And anyway, why can’t the intern go for the job Bob wants you to transfer to? If they’d still be in the same building they can continue skulking around obnoxiously so what does it matter what department she’s in??

    1. AKchic*

      I would assume he’s pressuring her because of the chemo. She’s the “weak link” in the group. Or the intern really likes that position and it’s the closest to her skillset/degree.

      1. Quill*

        Based on the timing? It’s 100% the chemo.

        He’s already working while the rest of the team doesn’t know about the chemo to prime everyone involved on the possibility of OP leaving, and with chemo appointments and probably being out of office? People will take that as confirmation of whatever he’s spinning. The only way to deal with this is to get out ahead of Bob and tell people about the chemo *first*, because people have an overwhelming tendency to believe the first thing they hear, and not register a correction.

        There could be additional factors: demographics, newness, degree of closeness to the rest of the team, but the chemo alone could be enough for him to turn this into an opportunity to get exactly what *he* wants.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’m wondering if OP is in a more entry-type position for the department, so their taking a promotion transfer to the new area opens a slot perfect from an experience standpoint for an about to graduate intern.

      The less generous part of me is wondering if the fact the Bob knows OP is undergoing chemo is why Bob is targeting OP.

  35. Construction Safety*

    Oy, I sometimes wonder if there’s a group of people who developed their social IQ from watching reality TV.

  36. mark132*

    He may not be happy, but I’ll bet everyone else in the department but him would be grateful if you weren’t transferred so his girlfriend can move in.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I dunno, the department might be better off if Bob transferred departments so his girlfriend could join this one.

      The department receiving Bob might not be thrilled tho.

      1. J.B.*

        I imagine not. Any chance there’s an opening under a manger who will DEAL with Bob? That would be the one to usher him to.

  37. boop the first*

    Your coworker can’t transfer you. He also can’t fire you so you don’t have to relent and be accommodating! All you have to do is make sure your bosses all know your intentions. I know it’s easier said than done, but be less quiet! Don’t let your coworker be the squeakiest wheel.

  38. BethRA*

    Whhaaattt? Definitely set the record straight. I would be inclined to avoid the bit about his relationship with the intern, just to avoid the risk of being sucked into their drama (which shouldn’t happen, but could).

    Good luck with your treament, I hope it all goes well, and I”m sorry you have to deal with this nonsense on top of it.

  39. Observer*

    OP, is there some sort of hotline for making anonymous reports of harassment and the like? Because, if there is, you should seriously consider reporting that there seems to be this affair going on, TOTALLY aside from what Bob is doing to you. If this relationship really exists, what he’s doing is just terrible and totally opens the company up to all sorts of legal problems.

  40. Carlie*

    I’d support telling your boss about chemo. Because, if Bob can’t get you transferred, I bet next he tries to get you fired. And he’ll do it by saying you look tired, you aren’t pulling your weight, you are gone a lot, etc. And you want to be able to cut that off before he starts.

  41. StellaBella*

    OP, do as Aliaon suggests. And as others here suggest, too, protect yourself and stand up for yourself. Stop letting this jerk manipulate you.
    Best wishes with your chemo too, and as someone above said, save your power to heal yourself. Good luck!

  42. AKchic*

    Go to HR now. Let them know about the chemo, let them know about Bob trying to push you out and telling others that you’re wanting to transfer even though you’ve never said anything about it. Tell them about the rumors that he’s told others that he wants the intern to replace you (do NOT tell HR your suspicions why, HR will put two and two together, or they’ll ask).
    Let HR know that you’ve already told Bob you had/have no intention of transferring, and that you’ve never even said you were going to and he tried to gaslight you and push harder. You tried to shut it down. You have already disclosed your chemo to him prior to all of that and you’re concerned that he might be trying to push you out because of the chemo (ignore the intern thing at this point).
    Let them know that you are planning on shutting Bob down again, and that you are going to be more open/firm about it, but you want to ensure that upper levels know what’s going on in case it escalates.

    Then – file for FMLA in case you ever do need it. If you don’t need it, no worries. If you do end up needing it, at least all the paperwork is filled out while you still have the energy to do it.

    Then, stop worrying about Bob’s feelings. He’s never worried one whit about yours when he’s tried to repeatedly run you out of your job to (possibly) get his intern mistress your position by using the entire office as a rumor-mongering factory to help pressure you into going away, even though he knows you’re dealing with chemo and really aren’t in the best place for changing positions, even if you wanted to. He’s being a cad on multiple levels. I hope he chokes on an endless satchel of Richards.

    1. ANon.*


      “Bob is trying to push me out because he wants his GF to take my job” is not nearly as alarming as “Bob is trying to push me out because I told him I’m on chemo” – the latter is way more serious!!! And you have more solid proof of it (you know you told Bob about chemo vs. speculating on Bob’s relationship with intern).

      That is what you should bring to HR’s attention!

    2. mf*

      This is great advice. Chances are HR will be so concerned about violating the ADA that they will be damn sure Bob never says the word “transfer” ever again.

  43. MuseumChick*

    I wish we could post gifs in the comments. Because my only reaction to this is the gif of the woman eating popcorn with wide eyes.

  44. morrow was the hardest place i'd ever try to go*

    Oh my god, all of this plus he *knows* you’re dealing with chemo? Dude wins Worst Coworker, yikes.

  45. ANon.*

    Pushing your coworker to leave so your girlfriend can take the job is terrible, embarrassing if found out, but not illegal.

    Pushing your coworker to leave because they just disclosed they have an illness covered by ADA is very illegal.

    Personally, I would want to see OP putting the full weight of awkwardness and seriousness of the situation onto the coworker. I would go with Allison’s script but also tack on something along the lines of: “I’m concerned why you’re telling people I want to leave this position, especially since I just told you about my chemo treatments. The timing makes me wonder if your trying to push me out of my position because of my illness, which would be illegal.”

    My guess is he’s going to stammer and stumble in response because he didn’t consider how poor his timing is for trying to push you out. It would probably put an end to all his attempts real quick.

    Good luck, OP. And wishing you good health.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Quid pro quo = this for that.

        This = permanent job
        That = sexual relationship

        Very illegal. Also illegal if someone suffers harm because you gave preference to another due to a sexual relation.

  46. Goldfinch*

    Bob can’t manage to hide an affair, has contradicted himself in front of your colleagues, and doesn’t seem to have the brain power to operate a potato. I don’t think you need advanced machinations to get ahead of Bob. Publicly correct his lies.

    Because I’m ruthless, I would also make it clear to Bob (privately, and without actually saying the words) that continued carrying on with this nonsense would be a terrible decision for someone with a badly-kept secret. I’m sure the commentariat will not agree with that, but I stand by it.

    1. mf*

      “I dunno, Bob, I kinda think it’s in your best interest for me to not transfer. As long as we work closely, I can ensure nobody finds out that you’re cheating on your wife and sexually harassing the intern.”

      1. designbot*

        “I don’t know if you’ve really thought this through Bob. If your plan works out the way you seem to want, certain things might become even more obvious than they already are.”

    2. pony tailed wonder*

      It makes me wonder what else Bob is up to. JMO, I would perk my ears up when people talk about Bob and see what else is going on. I don’t think the stink is confined to what you have reported. And also, lean in on your work friends now. You will need some kind of balance after working with Bob during this. Not everyone is evil.

  47. Oranges*

    Bob is horrible. Yes, working with him after you’ve made it plain that the transfer isn’t happening is a downside. If your manager will have your back, then blow Bob out of the water. If your manager is “figure this out yourself, Bob won’t be punished for this skeeviness” then… welp your position suuuuucks and looping in HR might be a very good option.

    You need power behind you. A good way to get that is by going to a high up and asking for it.

    If you don’t have the power of the higher ups, then Bob will. Because he’s a hornet and will not balk at doing anything to get what he wants. Even telling the boss that your performance is slipping because chemo.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      I’d counter Bob’s garbage by telling everyone that Bob is possibly having an affair. Yes, not nice. But neither is Bob. Lots of people don’t take kindly to skeezy married men pushing out cancer patients so their mistresses can have their positions.

  48. designbot*

    I’d be so tempted to be even more blunt. Like, “Wow, you keep saying that. It’s almost like you’re trying to push me out for some reason!”

    1. AKchic*

      “Gee, it can’t be because I’m on chemo… because that would really be an ADA issue; so what’s the real reason? Oh, is that lipstick on your neck? It wasn’t there an hour ago. Why are you turning red?” *innocent blinking*

  49. Jennifer Juniper*

    EEEEWWWW!!!! *dials the darkweb and summons Montana, Richard Ramirez, Margaret, and Mr. Jingles to take care of OP’s skeezy, sleazy co-worker*

  50. I coulda been a lawyer*

    Update: OP hired me to call out Bob, and as his ex-wife I can guarantee the jerk now has to work 3 jobs to pay back alimony and lawyer fees. He no longer works with OP bc he was fired from that job during negotiations re medical discrimination charges.

  51. Yorick*

    Long-term employees pursuing sexual or romantic relationships with interns is seriously inappropriate. It is not “drama.” Reporting that and getting it shut down is an important way to improve or prevent a serious problem in the workplace. It is not “getting sucked into their drama.”

    Don’t spread rumors about it or whatever, and don’t wrap it up in your complaint about Bob’s transfer business, but do talk to HR or your boss about it. Tell them what you’ve seen and heard about Bob and the intern. They can take it from there.

    1. irene adler*

      Because Bob and intern want to be ‘together’.
      They probably have no idea what that’ll do to their relationship.

      1. Batgirl*

        Lots of people in affairs don’t actually have a relationship outside of work hours. The workplace is where it all happens because they can’t get away in the evenings/weekends.

  52. Dagny*

    Follow up on your conversation with your boss via an email, to make it harder for anyone to say later that something different happened.

    If Bob brings it up again, I suggest a deadpan: “Bob, you are well aware that I have no interest in transferring, but you keep bringing it up. Is there someone else you would rather see in this role?” Then lift one eyebrow.

  53. Natalia*

    First off Bob is a jerk and a total idiot. I would go to HR. This kind of behavior is unacceptable, unprofessional, and just plain mean. His girlfriend is not entitled to your job.

  54. e271828*

    Bob is not your friend. He’s probably not even a good coworker—look for him to start undermining you. You cannot trust Bob. Stop confiding anything personal in him. Make your chemo status known to your supervisor and HR, ASAP, before he uses it against you.

    When you say anything to Bob in person, send him a followup email restating the conversation. Anything.

  55. Jcarnall*

    I really want to get the update on this!

    Alison’s advice is lovely, and I particularly like the idea of telling HR (or your manager):

    “I wanted to let you know I’m having chemo. (Give any details you feel comfortable giving.) I’ve felt awkward telling people at work about it, because I love working here and I didn’t want anything to become difficult or for people to wonder how to act around me. Of course I would have let you know if I felt I was going to need any accommodations.

    “Recently, I confided in Bob that I was having chemo. He happens to be the first person I told at work. I told him as a friend, but his immediate reaction disturbed me a lot – since then he’s been telling other people that I want a transfer out of here, and even telling me – strongly hinting – that I should get a transfer. It’s like he’s not comfortable being around me because I’m having chemo, and he seems to want to get rid of me so he doesn’t have to think about it. I’m speculating, of course, because I don’t know why he’s behaving like this, but his inventing this story to other people about how I wanted to transfer did come right after me telling him I’m having chemo, and now he’s even pushing me directly to say I want a transfer, which I don’t – I like working here.”

    “What can we do about this? I really wish I’d never confided in Bob now, but I can’t change that – I just want him to stop pushing me to transfer away now he knows I’m having chemo. It’s still not something I really want to discuss with everyone I work with.”

    That avoids the messy intern business entirely. But if you can get a trusted co-worker to bring up the intern affair to HR or to Bob’s manager, that’s going to be a one-two punch against Bob.

    1. Shady Lady*

      +1 to another co-worker reporting the suspected relationship, especially one that Bob has told about his feelings. Why should that be OP’s responsibility when there are sources closer in the rumor chain? Doesn’t anyone else consider this a problem? That improper relationship is a whole issue on its own, regardless of whether he’s trying to get the girlfriend into OP’s job.

  56. GreenDoor*

    Definately talk to your boss. Especially if there’s any chance that the chemo will zap your energy. I know I have a harder time sticking to my guns on things when I’m really feeling run down. I can only imagine how easy it might be to bulldoze someone who’s system is weaker from chemo! And in that same vein, continue to ask your coworkers to “help shut that down” – never hurts to have others helping you that way.

    Also, the wicked part of me wants to suggest that you call his bluff, “You keep bringing up the idea of me transferring….who exactly are you eyeing to replace me?” A little subtle way of pointing out that he’s not as slick as he thinks he is.

  57. Paralegal Part Deux*

    Quit worrying about how Bob will feel. He has the same drawers to get glad in as he does to get mad in, as my mom likes to say. He needs to worry about upsetting you.

  58. Natalia*

    Could we have a Friday open thread where we talk about all the naughty things we’d love to do to people like Bob? Or would that be inappropriate?

  59. animaniactoo*

    You said you’re worried he’ll resent you for not leaving, but that’s putting entirely too much emphasis on Bob’s feelings. He should worry that you’re going to resent him for lying about you.

    OP when somebody is coming for you, their feelings are not something you should EVER EVER be concerned about managing. You worry about survival, and deal with the fallout after you’ve survived. Keep your own side of the street clean – say what you need to say and not more. Say it professionally. Speak to the professionally appropriate people.

    I understand that all of this feels like a lot when you’re already handling chemo and an uncertain future and it’s hard to take any more of your life being unstable. But it’s here and you need to protect the piece that you can – your job. Not Bob’s attitude – because that is Bob’s to handle, not yours. And if he can’t handle it, then it will be your boss’ to handle it.

    And while it will probably never be appropriate to do it, keep the fantasy of doing this in your head: Blasting him with your eyes and frosting out: “Excuse me? You tried to SHOVE ME OUT OF MY JOB WHILE I AM GOING THROUGH CHEMO – and you think YOU get to be the one who is upset here?” Keep it in your head for whenever you start wavering about trying to keep him happy versus making sure you survive with your job intact.

  60. What the What*

    I’m am so, so sorry for you situation. Being manipulated and gaslighted really stinks. I’m sorry for your health condition/chemo and hope that you tolerate well and gain healing.

    A similar situation happened to my spouse. He worked for a non profit well below market value with no benefits or health insurance and no raises for 5 years. A Board member’s wife wanted my spouse’s job so he and wife lied and manipulated things to where my spouse was constructively discharged and made my spouse’s remaining time there miserable enough to leave after 20 years. Lo and behold the wife conveniently took over my spouse’s job soon thereafter. We had very solid grounds to sue the crap out of that organization for tortious interference in an employment contract, fraudulent inducement, an implied threat of (false) arrest, slander and libel. I wanted to sue the living daylights out of them but my spouse convinced me my desire for scorched earth wasn’t prudent since he was job searching. He ended up getting a killer job 2 months later with doubled salary, paid move, $20k cash signing bonus, retirement plan, 20% yearly bonuses, pension and health insurance. Living well is perhaps the best revenge. I’m still bitter about how he was treated and being uprooted. But it’s been a growing experience for both of us so that’s good.

  61. spiralingsnails*

    I can’t tell whether the OP just found out about Bob’s weird behavior the day after she disclosed chemo or whether it started then. But if it STARTED right after that revelation, then perhaps Bob’s just the kind of jerk who doesn’t want to work with a “sick person”. He could have a phobia about catching cancer. He might have made some assumptions about his eventually having to “pick up the slack” for medical appointments and covering for sick leave for an immunocompromised patient, and decided that driving away OP away in favor of getting any *presumably healthier* co-worker would be less work for him in the long run.

  62. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    What a scumbag. If he persists, ask him if this is about his girlfriend taking your spot. That should stop him in his tracks.

  63. TootsNYC*

    I had a subordinate once who had somewhat similar skills to me. She was kind of frosty and distant (I once had to unofficially reprimand her for not answering a question I’d asked her). and I suddenly realized that the only time she’d come by my cubicle for a “friendly chat,” she ended up asking where I might go to next from my job, what my career path would be.

    Not too long after I spotted the pattern, she did it again, and I said, “Georgia, let me be clear. I’m not going anywhere. I like this job, I’ve got 3 weeks of vacation, my boss and I have a good relationship, and I’m not leaving. If you want to move up, you are going to have to move out, to a different company.”

  64. Dahlia*

    I would actually suggest quietly bringing up the girlfriend, possibly at a different time, solely because an employee with power targeting an intern is really kind of gross and something that should be looked into. It is not an equal distribution of power.

  65. His Grace*

    First off OP, I am sorry to hear that you are enduring this while on chemo, but do speak up!

    This man’s character and ethics are a huge question mark right now, and your boss (and if necessary, his boss and HR) need to know about this.

  66. Granny K*

    I’ve worked with people like this. It’s like they’re trying to create their own reality by stating something over and over again. Also, beware of people who tell you what your feelings are. If he’s lying about this, he’s lying about other things too. Please watch your back. would love to hear an update and sending positive thoughts your way.

    1. Oranges*

      It reminds me of my 2 yr old nephew and my energy issues.
      Me: “Auntie Oranges is sick, she needs to rest”
      Him: “Oranges is sick.”
      Me: “Yes”
      Him: “Oranges is NOT sick”
      Me: “Awww, honey, I wish that was true”

      Like if he says it enough it’ll magically change reality.

  67. Goya de la Mancha*

    In a group of co-workers the next time Bob brings it up because I’m petty AF…

    “*sigh* Bob, I am not going to transfer just so your girlfriend can have a job”

  68. Batgirl*

    I understand the advice to OP to ignore the affair aspect – it’s wrong without that detail and it’s just speculative as to its being the motive.
    Buuuuut it does seem very wrong not to flag it up separately. An intern? Who is interviewing with them? Bob is being super gross and abusing his power in ways that will affect the company reputationally. Not to mention the effect on the intern(s).
    The OP has chemo going on, so I’m not saying that gauntlet falls to heras a SHOULD (Why no one else has made him cut it out is a different matter) but if he annoys her enough she absolutely COULD.

  69. Not Going Anywhere!*

    OP here. Your reactions helped me realize just how messed up the situation is (I really liked the dumpster fire GIF). Management is looking into the intern situation but I’m not involved. I’m putting time and energy into taking care of myself. I promise to re-read your comments if I feel myself giving in to pressure to do otherwise. I’ll update when there is some kind of resolution.

  70. Cubicles*

    I don’t understand why the co-worker is considered by the OP or other co-workers to be in charge of deciding that the OP wants to and will be transferred. The OP writes of being tempted to “just let it happen,” as the co-worker’s wish for the OP to be transferred will definitely happen unless the OP strongly resists.

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