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Cross post from "employment issues" - is this sexual harassment?

(8 Posts)
mrsgordonfreeman Fri 14-Sep-12 15:54:38

I haven't posted for a long time but a problem has arisen at work and I don't really have any other forums to revert to as the person concerned will see.

I work for a City company and have done for over six years. I have a relative who works for the same firm but in a different department. We don't mix at work much but see each other regularly. She is senior to me and very successful.

Recently though she told me that her boss has been acting weirdly towards her for a long time, for at least four years. He's done (to my knowledge) the following:

* told her that she's beautiful in appraisals, that she should stick with him and she'll go far
* told her not to have children because she won't be made partner if she does
* said that his wife doesn't understand him - but she does
* Insulted her mother in law at her wedding because he was envious
* told her that she shouldn't go for coffee with other colleagues without telling him
* told her that he's in love with her (frequently)
* sits at her PC and reads her emails when she's away from her desk (he sits next to her)
* is abrasive towards her husband
* texts her things like "today is gorgeous but not as gorgeous as you"
* emails her details of his undying love for her (using his company email address!) - she showed me these.

She hasn't reported him for any of this but her PA did report him when he was spotted at her PC recently - she intervened to stop HR getting him into trouble but she was told that he has a track record of doing this and indeed the last subject of his affections left as a result of them.

She is hoping that if she ignores him and laughs off his advances, it will go away - but it's been going on for years. He was apparently meant to retire in May but has opted to stay on for another year.

I think that he's manipulated her into thinking that if she reports this, it will affect her career and her standing in the company.

I know I can't tell her what to do, and she makes out that it doesn't bother her, but I have three main concerns:

* that it might escalate;
* that it IS affecting her; and
* that when he leaves he'll do it again to someone else.

I see this as sexual harassment/stalking. He's using his position to influence a subordinate employee and is living out a fantasy where he is having an affair with this beautiful young woman, and the company seems to be just letting him get on with it.

Just wanted to share it really. I know there's nothing I can do and I'm probably overreacting.

Bossybritches22 Sat 15-Sep-12 08:03:38

Not over reacting at all ...your poor relative !!!

No advice really but didn't want to let this go unnoticed.

What does her DH think?

scaevola Sat 15-Sep-12 08:10:18

As he was at her wedding, this is not just a work relationship - she took it beyond that which complicates things. He does sounds creepily persistent.

I recommend she seeks a new post within the organisation.

And if she is senior enough, not report him, but just tell everyone what he's doing. If she's not the first, she won't be the last, and reputation wrecking (making him into a figure of fun) is likely to have a much greater impact than official procedures.

TudorJess Sat 15-Sep-12 21:21:59

Yes it's definitely sexual harrassment. What a sleazeball!

The only thing which will affect your friend's career is being intimidated into keeping this all a secret. This definitely should not affect her job or her standing in the company, as she has the full force of the law on her side.

mrsgordonfreeman Mon 17-Sep-12 21:44:41

Her DH makes out that it's all very amusing and that he's flattered that someone is paying his wife so much attention. He knows she wouldn't run off with him and beyond that, I'm not entirely sure. I don't think he's completely comfortable with it.

mrsgordonfreeman Mon 17-Sep-12 21:49:44

I think that he's led her to believe that everything she's achieved in the 7 years she's been at the firm is all because of him and that if she rebuffs him now, that will go away.

She is very career driven and her whole sense of self worth is wrapped up in how well she does professionally. I think this has been exploited. Would she have done all she has done if it hadn't been for his patronage? Probably. But she doesn't think so and doesn't want to risk having all her opportunities taken away.

I was concerned that I was just reading more into it and of course there's another side to this that I don't know about. But I think I will have a confidential chat with her at work about this.

Leftwingharpie Thu 18-Oct-12 22:33:40

It's sex discrimination and harassment and whether or not he attended her wedding is neither here nor there. It sounds like she has grounds for a claim. But if she's not inclined to rock the boat, I don't really see what you can do about it other than support her and be a listening ear. One neutral thing she could do is keep evidence of what is going on, in case the dynamic, or her feelings about the situation should change.

squeeze321 Fri 26-Jul-13 21:51:00

That poor lady must feel like her boss is a virus she can't get rid of.

She has to tread a fine line here, and she will need the cooperation of other colleagues to make sure that he does not try and make her life hell when she tells him where to go.....if she does. Sounds like she's working very hard and fortunatly for her, she has good work ethics from what you say. I have a wierd feeling that if she was to refuse his advances this could deflate his ego and he may turn against her. I would hate to be in that position, it's very awkward.

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