Monthly Archives: April 2007

Two years ago I started a new job as a management trainee at a large and well-known company. The job is great and I’ve been told that I’m in the fast track and have been identified as someone with genuine leadership potential. Recently I was offered the most sort-after posting for recent trainees – a year’s stint in our New York office working on a very exciting new project. This is completely my ideal job, but my difficulty is that it would mean leaving my boyfriend behind. We haven’t been going out for long, and I fear our relationship won’t survive a 12 month absence. He is a junior hospital doctor who works very long hours and so won’t be able to come to see me in New York at all. He says he’s sure we can work something out, and says I should do it, but I’m not sure. Part of me wants to tell my boss the truth, but I fear it will make me look really drippy and as if I’m not committed. This isn’t fair – I am committed to my job, but I don’t see why I should be put in the position where I have to choose between love and interesting work. Surely I should be able to have both?

I love the place where I work but have an ongoing issue with my boss. Every so often, as a joke and usually for something trivial, he hits me – not with his fist, of course, but with a rolled-up newspaper or a book – and although it’s in jest it strikes me as inappropriate, and occasionally leaves bruises. I wouldn’t want to bring this up in case it escalates into anything more serious, but what can I do? He doesn’t do it to anyone else. I think it is a sign of favouritism. We really do get on well, and I don’t want to spoil that.

I work in a team of five people,  and mostly we get along quite well  together. However increasingly I am bothered by the fact that I am the only childless one among them. I can just about put up with being left out of the conversation – they go on and on about schools and childcare, but I am fed up with having to cover for them. I always have to work school holidays. They all take time off freely for parents evenings. I wouldn’t mind if it was occasional, but it is all the time. I have lost count of the number of  extra hours I have to do to help them out of a fix with childcare or illness.  This year I said I wanted to take holiday in August and was asked if I’d mind changing it as they were tied to school holidays. I backed down, as I didn’t seem to have much choice.

Recently I told our boss that I felt that as a childless person I was being discriminated against. My boss (who has children of his own) said it was company policy to be flexible towards working parents. He also implied that my attitude was somehow ungenerous, and that all team members should be supportive of each other.   This conversation has made me feel a lot worse. I am now enraged at the unfairness of it all. Is there anything I can do?
IT consultant, female 37

Dear Lucy,
A week ago I spotted our office cleaner wearing an unusual pair of Nike shoes that are exactly the same as a pair I own. I had left mine in a pile under my desk but when I looked they were gone. I don’t have any proof (I might have left them on the train), I don’t care much about the shoes and I don’t really want to get the guy in trouble. But I don’t want him cleaning the office any more in case anything valuable goes missing. What should I do?

Financial PR, male, 35

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Dear Lucy

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Lucy Kellaway, FT columnist and associate editor, offers her solution to your workplace problems in a fortnightly column in the Financial Times. In this weekly online edition of her 'agony aunt' column, readers are invited to have a say too. Read more about Dear Lucy here.