Steps you should take to stop sexual harassment

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “Last year, I made a sexual harassment complaint against my boss. He kept telling me to wear short skirts and asked if I had thong underwear. He offered to bring me wine and even showed up at my house. When I complained, the president said it was my fault because I wasn't firm enough when I told my boss to stop. He said we should forget about it and tell no one, because “nobody got hurt." Now my boss constantly follows me around the building, asks about my lunch plans and watches out the window when I leave. People have seen him going through my trash. This may not be harassment, but it’s annoying. What can I do until I find another job?” — Need Help

Marie's Answer: Let’s be clear about one thing — your boss may have dropped the sexual comments, but he’s still harassing you. The president’s response to your initial complaint was both appalling and legally insufficient. This time, someone needs to intervene. You need to take the following action:

•    If your company has a human resources department, you should go there immediately. Any qualified HR manager will know how to handle this situation. 

•    If the company does not have an HR department, tell the president that your boss’s illegal conduct has continued. Describe his obsessive behavior and insist that the president take action to stop it.

•    If help is not forthcoming, then consider taking legal action. An EEOC representative or employment attorney can explain how that process works. If you do file a charge, the law protects you from retaliation. 

•    The ultimate solution is to look for a new employer. Just avoid mentioning these difficulties during your job search, because legal issues make interviewers uneasy. 

Finally, be mindful of your safety, because this guy is getting a little creepy. Given his history of turning up at your house, you could find yourself dealing with a stalker.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Joan September 17, 2009 at 4:06 pm

A diary is a good place to gather your thoughts but it won’t be legally admissable. A good defense lawyer would just say you made it up. It seems to me you need some witnesses. Anything in writing is helpful. Definitely tell someone so there is a trail of information. This situation sounds more than creepy to me…sounds rather dangerous. Please take it seriously.

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Sally Sales Job September 7, 2009 at 3:22 am

This is such a horrible thing to have to go through and I myself wouldn’t know what to do in a situation like this, but after reading the above comments and what everyone else has mentioned the best thing to do in these types of things is to speak up and get help, to have someone know whats going on, so that if something bad does happen at least there will be someone that can help. Patrica’s advice is excellent, keeping a diary of the events is a good thing as this can be the proof that one needs in the event something does happen.

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Brenda | Trade Marks August 19, 2009 at 4:39 am

I have to agree with all the comments made with regards to this topic I had a friend that was being harassed and she didn’t do anything about it like speak or lay a charge and the man started following her home waiting in her complex and following her where ever she went and then he would phone saying exactly what she was doing and wearing etc, one has to speak up before something like this becomes a huge problem.

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Sue | Office Furniture August 13, 2009 at 2:36 am

Wow what an interesting post, this is something that is almost taboo and that many women and sometimes men for that matter don’t really talk about, thinking that its their fault, but after reading this I think that many people people will stand up and not let these bullies get away with this.

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linda's background check March 26, 2009 at 10:54 am

You should get a restraining order to keep him from going to your home. Also, it creates a formal court record that he has been harassing you. This record will be extremely important when you are faced with future incidents, which may include assault or wrongful termination. Run a background check on you boss. You can Learn How To Do A Free Background Check here: http://backgroundsearch.com/backgroundcheck3/FAQ/free-background-check.html

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Patricia March 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

It is very important for you to document what has occured. If you haven’t done this, start by keeping a log or diary of the events. Make sure to include dates, time and a brief description of what occured. If you can’t recall the exact date at least indicate it was the week of ___ or in the month of ____. As an audit trail, email the President an compose the message as this is a follow up to our previous meeting on _____ and reiterate the basic discussion in the meeting. Be sure to include what he said to you as close to what you can remember. Then state the current behavior and that you are still uncomfortable with boss’s actions.

This documentation will be needed by the HR Department or whomever you may wish to seek legal advice and action to be taken.

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