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Monday, July 19, 2010

My Boss Sexually Harassed Me After Work

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I'm a female in my mid-thirties. Last week I went out with my colleagues and we all consumed a ridiculous amount of alcohol. My attractive, married, Vice President was there and once we got to talking, things turned inappropriate pretty quickly. At first we were just talking, but as the night progressed it ended up getting physical and he exposed himself to me in the street and confessed to engaging in relations with another woman at the bar we were at. It was truly shocking.

During the night we were also texting. I have several texts from him where he is telling me sexual things that he wants to do to me and I am telling him that I just want to talk. The worst part is that during the course of the night, he told me if I said anything he would "take me down with him." Yesterday at work he cornered me in the hallway and caught me completely off-guard. He asked that we forget about everything and told me he hadn't been avoiding me for the past week, but he had just been really busy.

To be honest, I just want the whole thing to go away without anyone's career being impacted. This is not how I act around my boss though. Every time I see him I am uncomfortable because I am intimidated by him and the whole situation was really just mind-blowing. I am afraid that he is going to try to take me down anyway because I make him uncomfortable. Is there anything I can do to protect myself? Is it possible to report this to HR to document the incident, but ask them not to take disciplinary measures against him? I would just like to have this on the record in case he retaliates against me in some way. Should I just shut up and try my best to act normal? I am very distracted at work. Please help.

My Boss Sexually Harassed Me After Work


QuestionAuthority said...

IMHO, you should be telling your attorney all this. Get a legal read on this situation post-haste. You may/may not want to pursue this, but you at least need to know how deep you're in shark-infested water...

Mousumi Dhar said...

You should report this to your senior management or gender committee if you have one in your office

Young HR Manager said...

In these kind of situations, I have found that majority of the management decision are in favor ofm the female employee. Even if the male counterpart was instigated by his counter part (female) that thing is really not highlighted.

You have a fair bit of chance on this.

HR Whiz said...

There is no way for her to report it and request that nothing happen, because any manager worth their weight will inform her that they are obligated to look into the matter further, as it may constitute inappropriate behavior.

Although it's often the case that it would be easier to just dismiss the situation and make it go away, I believe she should report it.

However, the legal investigator in me thinks part of the story is missing - I don't think he'd just randomly get her number and text her - unless he's an idiot. Is it possible there was some flirting and now a line was crossed? Regardless, she should go on the record.

I'm a first-time visitor. This was an interesting post!

Anonymous said...

Sexual Harassment is a extremely important issue - this is why companies create policies & code of conduct to prevent such matter from happening in the workplace. It's unfortunate that this had transpired on you! The matter should be brought upon your immediate supervisor/manager where a formal investigation will take place. It's understandable that you don't want the president to get in trouble; however, if you decide not to report it, the issue will become worst until the point where you may not be able to work at the company because you don't feel safe! This will also happen to other female workers as well, if the issue is not brought upon.

Be confident - and take action!! Stand for your rights!!

Anonymous said...

You should report this to your senior management or gender committee

What is a gender committee?

El Comodoro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
El Comodoro said...

Factotum, that's an excellent question. I expect to cringe at the inevitable PC answer.

I did think at first of a solemn group meeting in a large paneled boardroom voting on "Pat" from SNL... And yes, I am 12 years old.

Anonymous said...

I must be the dissenting voice. This isn't harassment so far. It's not worth going to HR for this yet. What would you report, that you feel uncomfortable because nothing has happened? It could turn into harassment, which is why you should print out the texts and save them.

The ability to charge sexual harassment is a very powerful weapon, it shouldn't be used until harassment actually happens. Otherwise it makes us (professional women)look like vindictive whiners and reinforces negative stereotypes. The man hasn't done anything except be sleazy at a drunken outing after work. If you run across him at work, be professional and keep it strictly business.

Anonymous said...

"The worst part is that during the course of the night, he told me if I said anything he would "take me down with him."

Clear bullying and threats, and absolutely harassment.

No, you can't just report it and have nothing happen. The severity of what happened (complete with threats) means that the job is now permanently transformed. You are deluding yourself if you think he (or you) can go back to the way it was before. And he is probably doing things right now to cover for himself.

And did either of you use company provided equipment to text each other? You both may be reprimanded (or worse). Look at what happened to Kwame Kilpatrick for what happens when these sort of things get really out of hand.

RP said...

No, the threat definitely puts this firmly in harassment territory.

EHRL chastises the OP for flirting with her boss but when I read her account it isn't really clear whether she was flirting or not. She keeps referring to it as "just talking". The order of events is also confusing. I would think that the texting happened before he exposed himself but then why would you text someone you're having drinks with?

I'm leaning towards flirting occurring if only because the OP felt the need to point out the VP is attractive but my advice to the OP would be to be a lot clearer about what actually happened when she tells HR about this. You don't want them to have to hear it from the VP that, "Hey, she was flirting with me too!" (If the OP wasn't flirting then they need to make that explicit.)

James said...

You need to have clear documentation and evidence, save those text messages and begin looking for another job.

The minute he does this again, report him to several bosses higher up and parallel. Document when you tell them. If they don't do anything, sue the hell out of everybody.

This should not be going on in the workplace.