Boss comments crossing line to sexual harassment?
June 8, 2006 1:38 PM Subscribe
My friend has a problem with a comment her new boss made to her the other day, involving her supposedly "inappropriate" clothing. What would other females do in this sort of situation? [more inside] has her side of the story.
"my boss said something really uncomfortable to me at work yesterday. i'm the new girl, so i really had no choice but to smile and nod and agree with him.
my department (tech support) has four employees (including myself), one supervisor, and one boss. that's six people total; i, along with a woman named diane, are the only females on the staff. this incident occured yesterday after diane had gone home for the day.
i was doing something that was unusual, and technically not in my job description. a newspaper in ann arbor needed six of our computers, so i was helping to bubble-pack them up, put them into boxes, and get them ready to be shipped out. i was wearing a tank top and a cardigan sweater with khakis; perfectly acceptable for the business-casual dress code.
about an hour later, far after the packing was completed, my boss called me into his enclosed office. "i want to talk to you for a second," he said. i knew that i had accidentally uttered the word "shit" earlier in the day, so i figured it had something to do with that. or, perhaps, he was going to discuss my progress so far, and what my next step in training would be. (this was only my third day on the job, after all.)
i sat down in a chair while he stood.
"summer," he said, "earlier when you were packing boxes, your shirt was...too revealing. when you were bending down, you were, uh, exposing yourself," he said akwardly, "and i'm not sure if anyone else noticed it, but i did."
i froze in my chair. this is not a slap on the wrist for saying "shit"; this is far worse. i was as frozen as a statue, developing a cold and uncomfortable sweat, and nonetheless: my "new hire" self could only smile, nod, and agree.
he continued. "i just wanted you to know that, so it doesn't happen again."
i mustered out a reply. "sorry; i didn't think i'd be bending down to pack up boxes today."
"it's okay, but just remember."
but here's my point: i don't think i did anything wrong. i was wearing a perfectly acceptable shirt for work -- almost ANY shirt suitable for business would be "revealing" if the female wearing it bent down at the proper angle. it was nothing i could control -- hell, i can't afford any new shirts anyway, right now -- but that's not even the point. the point is this: PLEASE DON'T FUCKING LOOK AT ME. and if, mr. boss, you DO happen to see down my shirt as i'm bending over, i'd appreciate it if you would keep it to yourself.
and because he DIDN'T keep it to himself, i feel insulted and somewhat ridiculed. my new job, my NEW office -- it's not going to be a comfortable environment for me any more.
what should i do?"
Any idea of what would be the next proper action to occur in this situation?