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So this was a while back, when I was working as a Project Coordinator (I've been promoted now), a new PC joined our team and it was my job to train her. I was attracted to her and we talked and laughed as I was training her. Eventually, I made the decision to ask her out on a date and she squarely rejected me. I admit I was very upset and embarassed, I lost face.

I ended up giving her a negative review on her evaluation and she was let go abruptly. I tried to tell her that it was due to strictly professional reasons and subsequently blocked me on Facebook.

Some people are spreading rumours about me that I did it because she didn't go out with me and laughing about it.

What should I do?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by CMW, Monica Cellio, jcmeloni, jmort253 Mar 16 at 23:07

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Can you give more information on what the negative feedback was and what the reason for firing her was? –  Kvothe Mar 16 at 6:16
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I must say I'm missing the concrete question here. You described the background of your situation, but what is the concrete problem that you want solved? The rejection, the loss of face, getting her fired? –  CMW Mar 16 at 15:38
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I'd rather @tomho529 clarified what the concrete question is before more answers trickle in from people guessing what it might be. –  CMW Mar 16 at 18:49
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@tomho529 The review actually doesn't change much, the unacceptable point was hitting on her while being in a position to control her career. What would you've done if she'd say yes? Even if you both were the one true possible love in the world, are you aware that the only reasonable way to go forward with your relationship was if either she or you would happily quit the company (or move to unrelated positions) after saying yes but before your first actual date? –  Peteris Mar 16 at 19:29
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I am confused by this question. You've told a story and asked "what should I do?" without saying what goal you want to achieve. Don't make us guess what your goal is; state the goal you want to achieve when you ask for advice. –  Eric Lippert Mar 16 at 20:57

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

No offense, OP, but you're in this one up to your ears. If I were in your shoes, I think I'd have two options:

  1. Ignore it and hope it dies away on its own. Honestly, this strikes me as the coward's way out, but perhaps the person you got fired didn't really like the job anyway, found something else which is more to her liking, and in this particular case is willing to let bygones be bygones. Maybe, just maybe, this won't find its way up to higher management and you'll be able to treat this as a valuable life lesson. Which, by the way, is "don't ever do this again". If you treat the lesson as "oh, cool, management doesn't care when I pull crap like this", then you will be fired eventually if you repeat the behavior enough.

  2. Fall on your sword. While I don't seek out management positions myself, I have been in the unenviable position of having said something to a customer which I should not have at a job I had many years ago. I chose at that point to tell my boss about it. Some backstory: I was working in customer service at the time and this guy had called in to berate me for half an hour about our product, my voice, and anything else he could think of to berate me with. While I maintained my professionalism throughout, I admit that I kind of "lost it" at the end and, just as he was hanging up, I called him a jerk.

    This does constitute customer abuse (no matter how I excuse it, I was absolutely in the wrong), and I told my boss about it. Luckily for me, the recording (as this was a call center, we recorded all of our calls) cut off just before I said this and so there was no evidence of me doing anything bad. As such, I did not lose my job over this incident. Additionally, I was able to cultivate a relationship with my boss wherein, if I found myself in such a situation in the future, I could call him over and discuss strategies to avoid such a situation in the future.

I'm not going to lie: I think the chances are fairly high that if you present this honestly and truthfully, your manager(s) will either terminate you or take away this responsibility from you. That being said, I think it behooves you to bring this up on your own - if nothing else, there is a much, much greater chance that they will keep you on in some role if you own up to the mistake than if they find out about it through other channels.

If you do get let go because of this, all I can say is, think of this as a learning experience. Nobody else knows what's going on in your head and as such if you engage in a chain of events which looks sinister, people will assume you are being sinister. I will not say you should never engage in romance in the workplace - I have several friends who met at work and who are happily married now - but this is not the 1950s anymore and you have to be very, very careful about the actions you undertake in the workplace.

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At the moment, there's nothing you can do about what already has happened. This ship has sailed.

If you protest now that you've been labelled then you will be seen as making excuses and you will be keeping the story alive. If you keep your head down, ignore the rumours, and from now on behave with absolutely impeccable professionalism at all times in your interactions with others at work then things will die down faster.

If you haven't already, you think about discussing this with your manager and confirm that they know your performance review of this person is purely down to professional matters and isn't affected by anything else, as this possibly has the potential to be a sexual harassment case. No matter how annoyed they might be if you tell them, they'll be much more annoyed if the first they hear about it is when they receive a formal complaint from your former co-worker.

And seriously, don't do this again. No matter that your intentions may have been honest, there's all kinds of problems with having a personal relationship with staff members you have any kind of supervisory influence over (perceived or actual). There are very good reasons why so many variations of "don't dip your pen in the company inkwell" were invented.

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Totally agreed. Office romances are the worst idea you can have at your company. Because break-ups are far more probable than "happily ever after" and, when that happens, it will get ugly, even if one person doesn't have authority over the other. You are forced to see that person every day causing your work life to become... let's say unpleasant. Transfers will have to be made if the 2 of you can't work together, which won't look with management. Oh, and there's the gossip about it, which people love to do. Bottom line: worst idea ever ! –  Radu Murzea Mar 16 at 9:30
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@RaduMurzea I'm not sure I agree that "Don't date subordinates" should be extended to "Don't date anyone in the office". A good percentage of marriages come from workplace romances and, after all, you only live once. Caution should be advised, though. –  Dan Mar 16 at 11:09
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@JoeStrazzere Oh, couldn't agree more Joe. I just think the common advice of "Don't take anyone you work with" is a little over zealous given the chances of finding someone you connect with at work. –  Dan Mar 16 at 12:32
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@Andy You'll have to remind me where I suggested being irresponsible and ignorant of consequences. What I said was that the workplace is a natural and common place to meet a partner - if you're single and wish to deny yourself that opportunity then that's fine. Personally, I'd simply exercise caution and behave like an adult. –  Dan Mar 16 at 20:56
  1. have you thought about how she felt, when her boss (= you) made advances towards her? For her it was clear that you would have to evaluate her work, and either would she be forced to agree at going out with you, or, she would say no, and risk a negative review.

  2. either don't evaluate, or, don't hit on a co-worked below you

  3. are you thinking now that she is in a position of suing your company for sexual harassment, and that it could turn into a huge issue?

  4. have you thought on letting others, more independent colleagues, evaluate her work?

  5. are you aware that you are a creep now in the mind of many women?

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And in the mind of many men. –  R.. Mar 17 at 3:24

After you asked your coworker out, only thing you could have done to not look bad afterwards is not get her discharged after she rejected you and even that could be viewed as non-professional.

Even if your coworker accepted your advances you would either both be in a professionally bad place if you gave positive review, or in a romantically bad place and possibly professionally too if you gave bad review.

What happens if you give bad review after coworker rejected you, this you already know.

While office romances are generally treacherous grounds, there's literally NO WAY things could have ended happily once you asked her out while being the one responsible for her keeping her job.

Live with the consequences and try to learn from them, hopefully you have a reputation for integrity and honesty and people accept your version of events at your word. If you don't have such a reputation, you'd do well to build one.

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@R.., good people can sometimes act pretty darn stupid, I'm leaving a possibility that this is the case –  bbozo Mar 16 at 19:37
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Only 1 of 4 paragraphs attempts an answer. –  martin f Mar 16 at 19:54

What's done is done. These kind of situations are goldmine for rumor mongers. Are people mocking you indirectly/directly or clearly avoiding you ? (Eg. Be very nice to this guy etc.) If not, then don't think too much about it. If yes, then it might be time to look for a job in a new company.

While looking for a new job, I suggest you try this - If you have solid reasons for your review, then you can ask friends with good reputation to indirectly counter those rumors. They can find a creative ways to bring up your topic and help. Obviously, if you do not have many friends there, or if your friends have strong reason to believe that you fired her because of the rejection, then this approach is useless. More importantly, you might be in for some serious legal trouble.

As an aside, if I were you, I'd avoid office romance . There are many fish in the sea, so to speak. Asking for a date or months of dating can end on a bad note. Not everyone can deal with the awkwardness of working with a love interest. Also, don't think you are getting along well just because she laughs at your joke. People sometimes do this to get a good review. Also, do not ask for a date too soon. You could have waited until after the review.

Anyway, let this be a good lesson to all.

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On the one hand there is the strong implication in the question that the negative review was due to the rejection, yet on the other hand the questioner states that they informed the woman who got fired that the negative review was for "strictly professional reasons". So what's the truth of the situation here?

I think before the OP can have any meaningful insight and clarification on best course of action, there is a need to assess the situation honestly. If you want to recover, put integrity first.

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