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When dealing with harassment, put self-preservation first

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “My wife is a nanny who works for a married couple. She recently told me that the husband, who is a doctor, has been making sexually inappropriate remarks to her. I called the doctor’s wife and told her about the situation, but nothing has changed.

“Although this seems like harassment, I’ve been told there’s nothing I can do about it. This guy apparently thinks he’s untouchable, but he needs to be stopped before he harasses someone else.” Furious Husband

A: Well, there’s certainly one thing you can do about it. You can encourage your wife to remove herself from this traumatic and potentially hazardous situation. Considering your level of outrage, it’s rather puzzling that you haven’t advised her to quit.

I also find it a bit odd that you chose to call the doctor’s wife instead of talking with him directly. Perhaps you hoped that having her relay the message would avoid an ugly confrontation, but expecting a spouse to police her sexually harassing husband is rather unrealistic.

You appear to be wishing for some type of legal recourse. However, since I'm not an attorney, I can’t offer advice on that front. Those who say “there’s nothing you can do” could be referring to the fact that federal sexual harassment laws may not cover this type of employment, but only a lawyer can properly advise you about legal options.

My own opinion is that you should be worrying less about retribution and more about your wife’s mental and physical well-being. Not only is she having to fend off her employer’s sexual advances, but she’s also working in his house, so your first priority should be to get her out of there.  

Leaving a bad situation can pose job search hurdles. These Q&A's may provide some helpful tips: Frequently Asked Job Search Questions.

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