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Sexual Harassment

I recently had a meeting with my business partner at our bookkeepers office. I had completed my job duty which was to develop a web site  and retail storefront. I was led to believe this was going to be a good meeting. When I went in he was already talking and telling the bookkeeper that the website was a waste and the store was nothing that I said it would be. He talked to bookkeeper as if I were not present and regarded to me as "she." The bookkeeper came to my defense and had a answer for every question he had about where the money was spent. He seemed frustrated and then stated that he would not give anymore capital and he wanted to file bankruptcy on it. The bookkeeper then stated that it was foolish to do so. My partner then continued insulting the work I had done.  I expressed to him to stop devaluing me and my work that I had done and that I was not going to sit here and be devalued.

My partner remarked to the bookkeeper, “Am I devaluing her? She is just going to act like a woman now and get her emotions involved.” I expressed to him that I could would not stay in a meeting that I am being devalued for my work or for the gender that I am.I told him that he and the bookkeeper could work a figure and I would pay him back. He said that he wanted 100% back. I told him that I had performed everything that the presentation of the business described and that 50% of that amount was my fee for doing all the work and that I would not give back money I worked for especially since he was bailing out. He then insulted me again with the same remarks over and over again.i told the bookkeeper that I could not make a decision today on the amount and that I was leaving the meeting because I was not going to be talked to this way. I told the bookkeeper to please contact me with what my partner and you think is fair and then I left. I was shocked as I was leaving and felt so sabotaged and insulted. My partner offered me money one time for a fling. I told  him that I would never sell myself out for any amount and then he said he was just joking. It made me feel uncomfortable but this business is my livelihood. What can I do?


I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Sounds like someone you shouldn't have been in business with in the first place, but at this point that's beside the point. My instinct is that bookkeeper seems to be someone also invested in the business and someone who has some understanding of the situation as well as someone who seems sympathetic to how you are being wrongfully treated. My suggestion is that you consult the bookkeeper as a neutral third party, since he witnessed this.

As for suggestions on how to proceed. It's very likely that you can find a way to work together, perhaps just better dividing up tasks and responsibilities and only checking in with the other person on completion or major decisions. Perhaps you can each write up a code of conduct for working together. I'm assuming that he needs and wants the business as much as you do and thus has a vested interest in trying to figure out a way to work together — the future of the business likely depends on it. There are mediators you could get involved, too — but that's more money, and since the bookkeeper already has some insight I would just seek his professional opinion.

I hope that helps — good luck figuring something out and good for you for knowing that you don't deserve to be treated that way.

— Amy