How to Handle Sexual Harassment by a Boss

Award-Winning California Employment Law Firm Since 2012
On Behalf of Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian | August 3, 2023 Sexual Harassment

Despite various laws and training in place, sexual harassment in the workplace is an unfortunate reality for some. This can be especially challenging when the perpetrator is a manager or boss, as this can leave victims feeling powerless and worried about losing their job if they speak up. Sexual harassment of any kind is unacceptable behavior, and every individual has the right to feel safe at work.

This article discusses what sexual harassment is, when to seek support and advice, and the necessary steps to take to handle sexual harassment by a boss.

What is Sexual Harassment?

It is thought that many people deal with sexual harassment in the workplace on a daily basis. With this in mind, it’s important to understand what sexual harassment is. Many offenders actually gaslight their victims, making them feel as though it’s their problem. This can make it difficult for victims to speak up, as they may feel like they’re being ‘too sensitive’.

Any behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable and is in a sexual manner is classed as sexual harassment. It may start as jokes about your sexuality or telling sexualized jokes about you or a person of your gender. This can progress quickly if you don’t put a stop to it.

Sexual harassment can be:

  • Verbal, such as inappropriate comments and jokes.
  • Non-verbal, e.g., watching or looking at you in a sexualized manner or offensive gestures.
  • Psychical, such as unwanted advances and inappropriate touching.

By understanding what constitutes sexual harassment, you can better assess your situation and take appropriate action.

Start Documenting Incidents

When dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s essential to start documenting each incident. Write down the date, time, and location of the incident, and any witnesses who may have been present. If you can get witness statements and are happy to speak to people at work about your situation, do so.

If you feel uncomfortable or are worried about things going back to your boss, just write down the names of the people around at the time, as they can be questioned later. Also note if there are any CCTV cameras around, as some workplaces will have CCTV which can be used as proof later on. Make sure to save any relevant communications too, including letters, notes, and emails or text messages, as these can serve as evidence.

The more detailed and comprehensive your documentation is, the stronger your case will be if you file a complaint or pursue legal action. Unfortunately, many sexual harassment perpetrators will not own up to their actions, which can make it difficult to prove without enough evidence.

Know Your Company Policies

Every company has specific and clear policies around sexual harassment in the workplace. This can also provide you with an avenue to report incidents, which should go above your boss. Familiarize yourself with these policies and understand how to report an incident. When you feel ready, and sooner rather than later, file a report against your boss, providing any documentation you’ve collected.

Your company has a legal obligation to investigate and address sexual harassment claims. If nothing is done after reporting an incident, you should get in touch with a lawyer, as you may be able to sue the company as a whole. It is illegal to not look into any claims of sexual harassment. There should also be a designated person, such as someone in HR, to speak to about this. If the only person in the company policies to report sexual harassment to is your boss, this is also illegal.

Seek Advice and Support

Dealing with sexual harassment is emotionally challenging, so it’s important to seek advice and support from loved ones. Sexual harassment can cause a number of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Therefore, you may also benefit from speaking to a therapist about your experiences, so you can feel safe and confident in your body.

If you feel like you can, speak with a colleague about your situation. You may find that you are not the only one suffering sexual harassment at the hands of your boss. If they can also speak up alongside you, the odds are further stacked in your favor when reporting your boss. Lastly, speak to a lawyer or an organization that specializes in workplace harassment issues for further guidance.

Know Your Rights

When dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, you must know your legal rights. In the US, according to federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment in the workplace is strictly prohibited and employees who report such acts should be protected. You will not lose your job if you report sexual harassment unless you choose to leave the company. If your organization tries to terminate your employment after reporting sexual harassment claims against your boss, this is also illegal.

The best thing in this situation is to speak to one of our dedicated lawyers. They have training in these kinds of cases and are well-versed in the laws around sexual harassment in the workplace. They can protect you against illegal acts, such as not taking any action after filing a report or retaliation against you. In these cases, you can pursue a civil lawsuit with the help of our lawyers.

Experiencing sexual harassment in any form from a boss is an unacceptable and upsetting situation, but it’s important to remember you are not alone. There are guidelines and laws in place to protect your rights and to create a safe workplace. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, speaking up is essential. This can protect other employees from receiving the same treatment and can put a stop to illegal and unacceptable behavior.

Make sure to understand what sexual harassment is, start documenting any incidents, know your company policies relating to sexual harassment in the workplace, seek advice and support, and know your rights. You can also speak to one of our employment lawyers at the Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian for advice on pursuing legal action.

Visit our offices at 450 N Brand Blvd #613, Glendale, CA 91203, or call us today for a free consultation, on (818) 839-5969.