DEAR AMY: I work in an office of five women, one being the boss. We are all in our late 30s and early 40s. We work for a small company. One girl has worked here for five years, and since day one she has had it in for me. She is "scent sensitive" and has a medical letter saying that she cannot be around scents. We have made the office scent free, but every couple of months she complains with a written letter to the boss that I (and only I), must have worn too much perfume to work because she has a headache. She has moved cubicles so she does not have to deal with anyone. She does not talk to anyone unless spoken to and has no social skills. The whole office is afraid of her because they fear a lawsuit. For instance, she blamed my "chemistry" when I had to talk to her about work last Friday at 3 p.m. because she said she got a headache from lotion I used at 5 a.m. (at home). When she complains only about me, I feel bullied. Changing jobs is not an option because frankly everything is perfect except for her. Do you think I am being bullied? What should I do?
-- My Office Problem
DEAR PROBLEM: The most effective way to deal with this is not to assume you are being bullied, but to perhaps let someone higher up the chain in your company draw an accurate conclusion based on knowledge of your co-worker's and your behavior.
It is obvious that you two have bad chemistry, but so far her response is to report you, and your response is to express your frustration to others.
You should minimize any physical contact with her by communicating through phone or email. Document any of her behavior that you feel is aggressive toward you.
The next time this flares up, you should seek a meeting with the same person who receives her complaints and reports. Be low key: "I want you to know that I have done everything possible to minimize friction with my co-worker, and yet I feel singled out when she has symptoms."