Question: I tried for more than a year to discourage my boss from making sexual advances toward me on the job, at company picnics and other work-related gatherings. It all seems to just be a game to him. As a divorced mom no longer receiving any monthly child support payments since my ex is nowhere to be found, I can’t afford to lose this job.
Six weeks ago, when I drank too much at an office party, my boss insisted on driving me home. He knew my son was spending the night at the babysitter’s that evening. He became very forceful after telling me he wanted to come in for just one nightcap. We wound up having sex that night. He won’t stop calling me and I’ve told him that I’m just not interested and that we made a mistake.
My boss is threatening to demote me and says our relationship has always been a consensual one. I feel trapped. Is there anything I can do?
Response: Your fact situation clearly illustrates why sexual harassment laws were first passed. What you’ve described sounds like a “hostile work environment.” You clearly need to contact an employment discrimination attorney right away.
While you may feel fully compromised by the fact that you finally “gave in” to the harasser, the courts are aware that each case must be decided separately and that being pressured by a boss can cause tremendous fear and intimidation. While some outsiders might describe what took place as “voluntary sexual harassment,” your attorney can still present your case in a favorable manner.
Only spend time around your boss when one or more co-workers you trust are present. Be sure this time is required and occurs during normal business hours in the office. Ask your attorney about what attempts you should make to record any further attempts your boss might make to contact you away from work.
Answered by Elizabeth Smith
- Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Laws Governing Sexual Harassment on the Job
- What Constitutes a Hostile Work Environment
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