Sexually Harrased and Yelled At
I work for someone who says inappropriate comments all the time to me. He asks me to turn around so he can look at my butt. He has smacked it twice now (with papers-but still not wanted) he always is dropping things on purpose trying to get me to bend over to see my top when I bend down. I never know how to react. I always end up doing an awkward laugh because of how uncomfortable I feel.
On a good day he is a nice guy and has helped with me with a lot. I like my job and donít want to leave, but I know if I would say anything then I could no longer work here. Plus he has a lot of money and I am sure there is no way I'd win in a court battle. But on top of the harassment, he also screams and yells and me the minute I do something wrong. He can never have a normal conversation with you. I feel like I am at a dead end...
At a Dead End
Dear At a Dead End:
However long you have worked under this boss, itís too long. Your awkward laugh is not the way to respond. That okays harassment. Apparently you have been working scaredóafraid to say STOP to being told turn around to see your butt, STOP dropping things expecting you to bend over and STOP slapping your butt. Screaming and yelling are additional indicators your boss is a bully. It is good you like your job and you shouldnít have to quit to get away from this bad boss.
It is possibly but not probable that your boss can be transformed to be the nice guy you say he is on a good day. You can try to speak with him firmly about what you wonít tolerate, and you might get him to promise to behave not to treat you as a tease or to belittle youóa promise that will not make up for his past bad behavior. But thatís also I predict a promise he would not keep.
Apparently you think you must endure such treatment because your boss has money and youíre afraid to leave. Right? Wrong. Surely you can fight this. How? To the best of your memory, compose a log of such incidents with details of his harassing behavior: specific words he said, when, where, what happened and who was present. Also log a week or more of what has happened recently. Donít gossip with coworkers about this matter. Make copies of your log.
Short of seeking work elsewhere, you now have two routes to confronting this: If your place of employment is more than a small one-man operation, go to Human Resources of Personnel and request an investigation. Also say you want a transfer from working under this man. If it is small, you can see help outside by speaking with an attorney who deals with sexual harassment and labor issues.
This is not a cake walk even if an attorney agrees to handle your case on a contingency basis. But you should know that a workplace is responsible for correcting sexual harassment and related hostile work environments. One of the first steps of an investigation is to separate the victim from the harasser. Iím not sure how your situation will be handled because I donít know the size of your workplace. We donít provide legal advice, but it is clear to me that your boss has harassed, even if he thinks what he has done is simply playful. You are hired to work, not to a sexual object or target to be treated like dirt. So weigh this advice and take courage. Learning to deal with authority is not easy. It is even more difficult learning how to confront a harassing bully boss. But you can learn.
Work is hard enough without disrespect. You donít have to work scared to stand up for yourself. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that means you must do what it takes to cope or this humiliation will continue.