You need to leave work early. Your boss, a member of the opposite sex, says that you can leave early if you agree to have a drink with him/her after work on Friday night. Is this sexual...

You need to leave work early. Your boss, a member of the opposite sex, says that you can leave early if you agree to have a drink with him/her after work on Friday night. Is this sexual harrassment? If you think it isn't, would it make a difference if this was the 4th time this had happened? 

6 Answers

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In my view, this is a clear example of sexual harassment.  It would be an even clearer example if it were occurring for the fourth time.

In order to see why this is so, let us look at the definition of sexual harassment in the link below.  It states that sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances when “submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment decisions…” and/or when “it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”  Let us look at each of these criteria in turn.

If this is sexual harassment, the boss must first be making an unwelcome sexual advance.  In this case, the boss is not explicitly asking me to have sex with her.  However, asking me to go out for drinks after work is clearly an invitation to engage in a romantic relationship, one that might lead to sex.  The link tells us that conduct can be sexual harassment if it would not have occurred if I were of the other sex.  In this case, I can infer that she would not be asking me out in this manner if I were female.  Therefore, I would say that this is an unwelcome sexual advance, though it is not an explicit one. 

If this is sexual harassment, it must also affect “employment decisions” and/or “create an intimidating work environment.”  I would argue that it does both.  First, my boss is saying that she will make a decision (whether to let me leave early) based on whether I accept her advances.  This is, in my view, an employment decision.  Second, if my boss does this on a regular basis I will start to feel intimidated at work.  I will feel that my boss is after me and that will make it harder for me to do my job.

Thus, I would say that this is clearly sexual harassment.  It would be a good idea for me to tell my boss that she is making me uncomfortable, ask her to stop, and make written notes about what has happened with specific dates and times if possible.

johnshepps's profile pic

johnshepps | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

This is definitely sexual harassment. Asking a member of the opposite sex for a drink, one on one, would usually be considered a sign of sexual interest in Western society - enough so that an employment court would most likely recognise it as such.

By making the approval of your request conditional on you having a drink with them, your boss is using their professional position to put you under pressure to accept their advances. They are abusing their status to coerce you into a sexual situation (it doesn't need to overtly involve the act of sex to qualify as a sexual situation) that you would not voluntary enter; it's a very straightforward case of harassment and I'd be surprised if any legal body found otherwise. 

user396107's profile pic

user396107 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

I also would agree that this is a sign of sexual harassment. The reason for this view is because you are not to leave early unless you go out with him alone after work hours to have a drink with him. This is not acceptable if this is the fourth time your boss has been doing this as they are using their power and superiority in an inappropriate manner and making you do things that you are clearly not comfortable with but have to do in order to be allowed to leave early. Therefore, some action should clearly be taken to address the boss' behaviour.

kevin0001's profile pic

kevin0001 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

Yes, this would be a case of sexual harassment. This is sexual harassment because your boss is saying that the only way you can leave early is to go out with him / her. They are using their power as a person with power over your job to get you to go out with he / she. This means they are forcing you to go or else you wont get to leave early. This is wrong of them and you should try to do something to stop it.  

zumba96's profile pic

zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

This would definitely be an example of sexual harassment. If this is the fourth time they have approached you like this saying that you can go IF you have a drink with them it is not an acceptable matter. Your boss is using his power in order to get what he wants and this is unprofessional. If I were you I would do something about this. 

rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

I would say that this is definitely sexual harassment. Asking to go get a drink while in a work setting to a person who wouldn't have created this situation before is a clear sign of sexual harassment. The boss is using their authority against you to make you do something you may not want to do. This is something that is unprofessional and wrong for the boss to do. Especially if this was the fourth time, something should be done about the issue.