Boss’s Actions Make Me Uncomfortable

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss sexual attentiveness: Sometimes my boss keeps touching my hair. . . When I would walk into his office to ask a question, he would grab me by my thigh so I can come closer; because I was apparently not standing close enough.

I have been working at my employer’s for about a year and a half now. Lately, I’ve been feeling very uncomfortable working there. In addition, I’ve been feeling attacked as well.

Uncomfortable Reasons: – Sometimes my boss keeps touching my hair. One time, my hair was tied up in a ponytail, and he pulled my hair and said,”This is something nice for me to pull, when you’re not behaving.”

– Recently, my coworker and I have discovered that he has been looking at porn. When I go to his office, he rapidly stands right up and shuts his screen off, as if I didn’t notice. – There was one time, when my coworker and I discovered a condom over an object out in the open in the trash. – He ALWAYS makes rude remarks towards females.

– When I would walk into his office to ask a question, he would grab me by my thigh so I can come closer; because I was apparently not standing close enough.

Feeling Attacked Reasons: – When I make some mistakes on some orders, he constantly rubs it in and makes an announcement that I have to pay for it.

– I feel as though when I make a mistake I have to pay. As for the other employees, they don’t have to at all. Example: I ruined one shirt, and constantly get attacked all day as getting money taken off my paycheck. Another coworker messes up an item and nothing. – The boss constantly loads more and more projects, even though other employees are available.

– He is constantly on my back, as if I just started working there. I feel as though I’m not allowed to just focus on one order like my coworkers.What should I do?

Signed, Confused, Frustrated Worker

Dear Confused, Frustrated Worker:

Sometimes we advise employees to just focus on work or to discuss the situation with their managers or to do something else that we know from experience can be helpful in a reasonable workplace. However, it doesn’t appear any of those things would work for your situation because it doesn’t sound like a reasonable workplace! You are dealing with a boss who sounds as though he is lacking in character, ethics and morals. He also is unhappy with your work, at least unhappy enough to make an issue in front of others. It doesn’t sound as though it is a company with layers of managers above your boss. It sounds like he is the owner. It also doesn’t sound like a business that is large enough to come under federal laws about harassment, if you live in the U.S. or the U.K.

So, it seems to me that you should be looking for another job so you can get away from a potentially much more serious situation with your boss. It’s one thing to be nice and to tolerate an unpleasant person, as you seem to be doing. It’s another thing to stay in the role of a captive who can’t control her destiny no matter how repulsive her boss is.If you choose to stay there, you may want to consider some of these actions.

But keep this in mind: It won’t get better unless you do something to make it better. And, it will be hard to make changes because he’s been allowed to get by with his behavior for so long.*Focus on your work and avoid contact with your boss as much as possible. Don’t be alone with him and don’t respond to his rude remarks. Just keep working. When possible have someone else with you when you go to his office. It sounds as though the other employees are aware of what he is like, so perhaps you can work together to protect each other.

*If he touches your hair or your body, pull away with a frown. You don’t have to give a big speech about it, just show that you don’t like it. If he grabs you in some way, say, “Hey, stop!” “Don’t do that.” Or, something else to clearly show your displeasure.*You say he has threatened to make you pay for damaged items, but you don’t say you ever have paid for anything. I still think you should ignore him and keep working. Hopefully you are planning on leaving and if you aren’t actually losing money, it’s just him talking.

*Only you know whether you are doing a good job on your work. He may be right that you aren’t doing a good job or he may be wrong. If there are things you should be doing to improve, it will certainly be in your best interest to put more effort into it. It doesn’t matter what others are doing, you only are responsible for you.

But the bottom line is that you are not in a good workplace and you should find someplace else. If you have skills that can be used elsewhere, look for similar work. If you can learn new skills, look for that. Because otherwise, you’ll probably be stuck with a boss who never will treat you or others in a business-like way. Life is too short to live that way for even a couple of years. You’ve been there long enough to know if he is likely to change. If you don’t think so, it’s time for YOU to make the change.Talk to someone local who can provide some support and counsel for you about the whole situation. You may even want to talk to an attorney and ask for a free consultation about your options under the law.Best wishes to you through this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what you decide and what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.