Sexual Harasment Stinks

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss’ attention: My boss has always been really creepy towards me and constantly follows me around, and lately he has been commenting on my perfume.

My boss has always been really creepy towards me and constantly follows me around, and lately he has been commenting on my perfume. I have been wearing the same perfume for about a year and just recently he decided he didn’t like it. He told me it was hurting his eyes and irritating his allergies so I stopped wearing it. A few days later he told me it was irritating him again, when in fact, I didn’t have any on. He even proceeded to smell my bare skin and told me it’s “the soap I use in the shower.” Ever since then everyday he comments on my perfume, when I am not wearing any, and have told him this many times and he asks other coworkers what they think behind my back. He seems to be the only one with the problem. Is this sexual harassment?

Signed, Bothered By My Boss

Dear Bothered By My Boss:

If you work in a confined small work area, your boss could be correct in advising you to not use perfume or soap that irritates him or others. However, from this distance, something smells bad about his frequent comments about your perfume and smell of your skin. You say you have “told him” many times that you aren’t wearing the perfume to which he objected. Is it not past time to firmly and politely ask that he stop; stop talking about it to you and anyone else? Meet with him with but keep his office door open and say you want No more talk about that. If the nature of your work doesn’t demand close contact, as long as you are clean and well groomed, a boss should not talk about how you smell or personal matters.

When you confront him, you can add that such talk is sexual harassment. That should stop it. If he persists after you have asked him to stop, the next step is to list to the best you can recall the specific times in the past and present of what he says, then take this complaint with Human Resources. Obviously, you want to be seen as a professional so maintain a business-minded attitude and demeanor. If your boss treats you negatively after you tell him to stop, that would be viewed at retaliation. I predict that this matter can be stopped if you voice your discomfort and if necessary state in writing. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, when and if all are focused on what is best for doing what you are hired to do.

William Gorden