What if I Turn Down My Boss Nicely for Sexual Advances but Then He Threatens My Job?

There's a big difference between an office romance and sexual harrassment.
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Office romances have taken place ever since humans first came together in an office setting. They have produced a variety of results, some good and some bad. You might feel flattered to have someone in a power position attracted to you. In fact, you might even consider a relationship if you are also attracted. However, if hanging onto your job requires that you submit to sexual advances from your boss, it becomes a much stickier situation. To remedy this, you have four options: quit your job, file an internal complaint, file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or file a lawsuit.

Sexual Harrassment

    Whether your boss is the lecherous type that makes blatant passes or is a little more subtle about his intentions, the key to the situation is whether you want to take him up on his offer. Once you have said “no,” if he continues to press for dates or sexual favors, it becomes sexual harassment. Once he threatens your job, it morphs into sexual discrimination, according to the EEOC, and it is unquestionably illegal. Those unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors meet the EEOC’s definition of sexual discrimination, whether the offender and victim are of the same or opposite sexes.

Developing a Strategy

    Once you have said “no thanks,” and your has boss made it clear that your job was tied to agreeing to his sexual demands, you have taken the first step of telling the harasser his attentions are unwanted. Your next move will vary according to the situation, but the American Association of University Women suggests you write a letter to your boss, putting in writing his request and your refusal. This letter becomes the first step in an important paper trail that you will need if you are unlawfully terminated or denied promotion.

Ongoing Documentation

    Act like a detective and take copious notes on the harassing activities directed toward you by your boss. Keep a log of every detail – what your boss said or did, how you responded and whether there were any witnesses. Note facts such as the location, time and the exact words each of you used. Print any emails that support your notes. Also note any retaliation, such as your boss refusing to grant you time off even when you have vacation time coming, or changes made to your working conditions. Keep the log at home or in another safe place -- not at work.

Filing a Complaint

    Spend quality time with your employee handbook to determine what steps you must follow. File a formal, written complaint, directing it to the office specified in company policy. Allow your employer time to investigate and correct the situation. Most organizations take sexual harassment claims very seriously, as there are financial risks associated with sexual harassment lawsuits. If the company takes no action and the harassment continues, your next move is to file a complaint with the EEOC, particularly if you plan to pursue a lawsuit. You may also want to file a complaint with your state’s fair employment agency and engage a lawyer.

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