Refusing Employer Advances

Hi, Anita:

I have a huge problem that I need help addressing. Just recently we had a change in management and my new manager has been making comments that make me very uncomfortable and are beginning to creep me out. I do not want to quit my job. I just want this to stop! Help!

Dear, Avoiding Awkward Advances:

There is almost nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable and uneasy in your workplace. It is unfair and illegal to be made to feel this way. Sexual harassment is a very touchy subject can teeter between intentional advances and harmless playful comments. Your problem may need a simple straightening out, or it could take further action. Now let us get down to how to fix the problem, shall we?

Man_Call_meAs uncomfortable and cringe-worthy as this may sound, confronting the person in a respectful and professional manner should be your first step. It may be a misunderstanding, or the aggressor may not find his/her comments to be threatening or off-putting. If this is the case, you can sweep the problem off your plate and continue on with your work. It may be good to send an email notifying the person of how you are feeling in case you need additional support if things take a turn for the worst.

If it continues, begin writing down every time your supervisor makes comments or actions toward you that make you feel uneasy. Note the time, date, place, and detailed description of the incident. These notes will come in handy later down the line. Be sure to keep these notes in a safe place where they cannot be accessed by your manager or other co-workers. Your personal computer is a good place for these.

Immediately report the incident to Human Resources. Request a one-on-one meeting with your HR Rep. All discussions between Woman_Concernedyou and your HR rep should be confidential, but it can’t hurt to reiterate your desire for discretion before you begin speaking. Bring any documentation and explain how this makes you feel. Do not hold back. You deserve to work in a comfortable environment.

Remember that you should never be ashamed for the way you feel. If you are uncomfortable, it is your right to stand up for yourself. Who knows? You may not be the only one experiencing these advances.

Take a look at this short video about how to recognize and handle sexual harassment in your workplace:

Readers: What other actions could you recommend that will help resolve this issue? Have you been in a similar situation that you are willing to share?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Warm Wishes,

Anita

Dating Your Boss

A reader writes…

I have a major crush on my supervisor, and it’s making work awkward. What are your thoughts about dating the boss?

 

Dear, “Smitten Kitten,”

So… you report to a looker, eh? Well one thing’s for sure…  I bet it makes going to work a giddy experience (not to mention the fact that you’re probably dressed to the nines each day!)

As much as a “crush” can seem innocent, or you may want to DATE this person, I highly advise against it.  Things can evolve into a big mess – from sexual harassment to office gossip… it’s just a big no-no.
While employed, you need to keep your relationship strictly professional.  No flirting or hanky-panky – it could seriously jeopardize your job and damage your reputation.  Get out there and find someone similar (away from the office) – but when it comes to your boss, consider him (or her) off limits!

Hey readers, has anyone been in a similar situation?  What did YOU do?

I’d also love to hear from the managers / supervisors out there – What’s your take on this situation?
Anita

Sexual Harassment

A reader writes…

If my team member reports an incident that may constitute sexual harassment, what is my responsibility?

Dear “Immediate Action,”

As a manager, it is your responsibility to immediately report  any offensive conduct to HR or senior management – whether it’s brought to your attention by one of your direct “team members” … or ANY employee for that matter.

Now, I know you already have a million things on your plate, but something like this cannot delay and must be treated as a priority. Keep in mind that in some cases, waiting a week or even a couple of days may be too long.  Likewise, failing to start an investigation process can potentially expose your organization to liability. This is serious business!

Though you may feel a little awkward or even tongue-tied as you hear the complaint, it’s important that you respond appropriately.  Meet with the employee privately and try to ease the situation.

The experts at ELT Inc have provided the following breakdown of how you should handle this situation:

  • Identify: Identify and discuss key policies (harassment and retaliation) with the employee. Be sure that you understand the policies before you make statements about them. Identify the options available to the employee—objecting directly or enlisting the organization’s assistance to investigate the matter.
  • Inquire: Ask the employee to explain his or her experience, and get details about the complaint. Take appropriate notes.
  • Investigation Basics: Let the employee know that:
    • HR or senior management will contact him or her.
    • The employee and others will be asked questions.
    • The organization will determine if the policy has been violated.
    • Appropriate corrective action will be taken.
    • There will be a wrap-up meeting.

You and your company should consider mandating sexual harassment training for all employees so everyone has a clear understanding of your company policy, how to respond, and how to prevent future occurrences.

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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