By now, most of us are becoming accustomed to the growing publicity of the female perspective on mostly male-perpetrated sexual harassment both in and out of the workplace. The #MeToo movement has ripped the veil off this societally accepted conundrum, which had reached epidemic proportions long, long ago. Sexual harassment is something of a burden for both employees and employers in the workplace because it’s a stressful, time-consuming affair, and shouldn’t happen. But what do you do if your boss is the perpetrator? Here are your first steps when you boss touches your butt (or anything else).
First and foremost, tell him (or her) immediately that the advances are unwanted. Express your belief that workplace relationships should remain friendly but professional, and sexual attractions should only be explored between consenting adults in other environments. Consider making a quick call to human resources in order to have the event documented. You can probably ask HR to take no further action, if that’s your wish. Sometimes they will be forced to, based on company policy.
Should the harassment continue, be sure to make another call, and be sure to urge HR to investigate the matter fully and take corrective action, even if that means your boss is transferred or terminated. We don’t always want to take actions that might affect other people’s lives, but remember: you were the victim of harassment, and the perpetrator made that choice before you were forced to react.
After you do that, consider requesting a meeting with a lawyer who specializes in workplace harassment in order to explore your next options. Should HR fail to deliver a resolution to your problem (as is so often the case), then you’re free to open a Pandora’s Box of legal alternatives. No one should have to deal with this kind of behavior, and employment lawyers are dedicated to making sure you receive compensation for any potential emotional side effects or even damage done to your career.
Your lawyer will likely request that you file an administrative charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (or EEOC) in order to ensure that there is a timely investigation into the claim. If HR didn’t do its job, then the EEOC will give it another try. When they fail to deliver, they’ll offer you a “right to sue” letter. What better way to kick off litigation than with government permission to do so?