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Sexual Harassment

I am a young attorney who has been working at a law firm for over a year now. Last summer, my supervisor made me meet him and a client for drinks in the afternoon. I didn't want to go, but felt that I had no choice, so I grabbed another person from the office to go with me. They were very drunk when we got there, and immediately started talking about sex. My supervisor kept making references to the client's sexual abilities and reminded me that he was divorced. We left after an hour.

The next day, I told people at work what had happened, and my supervisor was yelled at by his partners. They also told him never to do that to me again. Despite this, he continued to make inappropriate comments and sly remarks which I kept ignoring for a while.

About a month ago, the same supervisor asked me if I was still engaged and if I would "date" the client I had met last summer. I said no, but he persisted. He asked why and I informed him that I did not date clients. He said that the client was his and not mine, therefore I should date him. Later that week, I told some of my co-workers what had happened, and it eventually got to the other partners. One of the partners in the sexual harassment committee asked me if I was making a formal complaint, but fearing losing my job, I said it was more of a warning. The next day my supervisor starts acting weird with me and stops giving me assignments. A few days later, I was fired with the excuse that "I don't fit." I ask for written reasons, but was told if it came to that then I wouldn't get paid while I was still there.

I've been researching cases on sexual harassment and have read about cases where the judged ruled against sexual harassment in instances that clearly are. Do I have enough to allege sexual harassment and/or wrongful termination? What will this do to my career, which has essentially just begun?

 

 

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Sadly, the majority of the questions I receive at Ask Amy would fall under the category of "job discrimination"--however the majority of these stories/situations don't have happy endings because there are too many loop holes in the law -- for starters that federal legislation, including sexual harassment, only applies to companies with 50 or more employees.

Your case sounds solid, as one of grounds for sexual harassment is based on "quid pro quo"(do this or that will happen)-- meaning go on a date or you will lose your job -- and that's what happened to you. You have to keep good documentation and then, of course, you have to get a good attorney. The NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund has researched these cases in the hopes that they will continue to find precedent setting cases. Perhaps you want to contact them to see where yours fits in, given their best estimation. They are based in New York City. You seem like you are well positioned to pursue this.

Good luck,

-Amy

 

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