Why I Never Turned In My Boss For Sexual Harassment

sexual harassmentBefore I became a writer, I didn’t have the most savory of bosses. I guess no one does. I mean, how many people can say they actually like, or even love, their boss?

In my life, I’ve had one boss whom not I not only loved, but respected and to this day we’re dear friends. As for the rest? Meh. Not so much. I don’t know if I’ve been unlucky in bosses throughout my life, or if even the smallest amount of power does things to someone’s brain in which they are forced to act like pricks. I like to believe it’s the former, but I’m also one who’s never found power to be that much of an aphrodisiac.

When I applied for the job at Advertising Town (obviously this name is changed, but how awesome would Advertising Town be for ANYPLACE?), I was wearing my only interview outfit. What this meant was I was in a black sheath that was a few inches above my knee, a black Jackie cardigan from JCrew, and the only pair of heels I could properly walk in at the time, and they happened to be emerald green. Definitely not the type of thing one would wear when trying to land a job in corporate America, but based on the ad that boasted a “laidback jean-wearing” atmosphere, I figured my outfit would work.

The girl, and she was definitely a girl, who called to schedule the interview was the one who greeted me.

“Oh, my god! I love your outfit! You’re totally the cutest! I know your name is Amanda, but can I call you ‘Mandy?’ I’ve always wanted a friend named Mandy!” She was, by far and to this day, the most excited interviewer I’ve ever encountered. We talked for all of 20 minutes about everything BUT the position, then she told me that while she wanted to hire me right then and there, the owner of the company would have to approve this decision. We’ll call him Hubris.

I was ushered into Hubris’ office where there was no place to sit except for his seat. I nervously stood there with the sweat piling up under my bra strap just waiting to drip, as he looked me over. His eyes didn’t scan me as if trying to pick up on anything out of place, but lingered on each part of my body until he reached my shoes. “Sexy shoes,” he said.

He asked me about what I thought about advertising, my ability to multi-task and the rest of those questions to which I had memorized the answers although I’m the last person in the world to be a team player, no, I don’t like to work overtime and never will for an office manager job, and yeah, sure, I’m totally interested in advertising, because it’s the most fascinating thing in the world. I had to focus on his maniacal smile so as not to roll my eyes at my lies.

After a few minutes, he abruptly got up, shook my hand and said they’d be in touch. And in touch they were later that day, and I was hired. I was relieved. I could live a bit longer in the city I loved doing the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. The American dream is alive and well, my friends.

In the beginning I stuck to dresses and that one pair of heels in which I could walk. But after awhile, when it became very apparent that I was the only one dressing that way, I slowly switched over to more casual outfits. Before long, I was in jeans like everyone else, but still maintained a somewhat professional appearance, or at least as professional as one can be in jeans in Chucks.

Not long after my transformation into officially fitting in with my colleagues outfit wise, I was called into Hubris’ office.

“We need to talk about your outfit,” he said. I looked down on my jeans, my Chucks, my perfectly pressed shirt that I had paid $13 to have made that way as I’m a fire hazard with an iron, and thought I looked fine. I was definitely more dressed up than my co-workers.

“This,” he said, as he ran his finger through the air and traced the outline of my body, “this just isn’t working for me.”

I just stared back at him in silence. I wasn’t sure what “this” was – my weight? My height? My overly pale skin that time of year?

“Remember that dress you wore for your interview? Now that was a great dress! It showed off your…” he paused, as if trying to not be completely sleazy, but then chose the sleazy route instead, “…assets. You have an adorable figure, Amanda. You shouldn’t be covering it up with jeans and sweaters.”

Not sure how to respond, I just nodded. I told him I understood, and “we” both agreed I’d make “more of an effort.”

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    • Sean

      Holey living shit. If there’s such a thing as karma, please let this man be run over by a combine harvester.

      • Shayla

        Sean, do you live on the prairies? Your choice of “running over vehicle” has the stink of Saskatchewan all over it ;)

      • Sean

        No Shayla, I’m in Toronto, but I’ve always chosen a combine harvester as the theoretical running-over vehicle for people I don’t like. I feel like that would be the most humanely fast, but excruciating death someone could have.

        Once again, I’m not proud of the level of thought I’ve put into it.

      • Shayla

        Fair enough :) I might have to come up with a good one for myself, now.

    • anna

      Ugh, your boss harassing you is the worst. You really can’t do squat without an HR department and they know it!
      I was an aupair in Germany a few years ago and my boss would get drunk and come on to me when his wife was out of the room. I couldn’t say shit because A. He paid my food,phone, insurance, and train ticket, all of which he could take away B. I didn’t speak the language well and C. I lived with them and D.I had no one else in the country to turn to. I was trapped, and I knew it.

      I’m so glad I got the fuck out of there.

      • Amanda Chatel

        That’s so disgusting!

        I’m glad we’re both out of those shitty situations.

    • LaLa

      Same thing happened to me. Only I was 15, 16 and he was a teacher. I never told anybody until about ten years later. It’s funny but it didn’t really hit me that it was sexual harassment until age 25. I guess because you think things like that won’t happen to you? But yeah, telling your 16 year old student you’d like to watch her change or that her skirt should be shorter is definitely sexual harassment. I’m sorry it happened to you too. It’s a lot more common than people think, though. I have at lease three other friends that have experienced it.

      • Amanda Chatel

        I know it may have seemed too late 10 years after the fact, but did you ever consider confronting him about it?

      • LaLa

        No. I have no idea where he is now. He moved away after his wife found out he was *surprise* sleeping with one of his students. She was 18 though, so he wasn’t charged with anything. So, unfortunately, that means he could still be teaching.

    • Violet

      When I was 16, my boss would follow me into the back room when I had to do inventory and sit around telling me all of the vividly detailed sex dreams he’d had about me. He was middle aged and married with two kids. I eventually quit, and he got fired for fucking the girl who replaced me and dragging the entire store into his divorce proceedings. Ass.

    • crystal m

      I am currently going through a very similar problem..but add on some touching too. I finally had to quit and change my phone number. Now jobless in a new city all because he couldn’t keep his disgusting behavior at bay. I also would panic and feel so uncomfortable but because my “hubris” owns the company and there is no HR. I could only confront.him…and I did. He said he would.stop and it only continued. Worst experience of my life. Hopefully Ill find another job quickly. Thank you for this. I’m glad I’m not alone.