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Ask L2: "I'm being sexually harassed at work in a family-owned business."

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

"I work for a family owned grocery store where I am groomed and sexually harassed by my manager..."


THE CLIFF NOTES

​PROBLEM

SOLUTION

I'm being harassed in my job. My abuser is a member of the family who owns the grocery store I work for. Help!

I love that you want to protect other women, and I support you in doing that. I would also very clearly decide what you want.


 

Disclaimer: Identities are kept confidential. The advice given here should be taken at your own risk. If you are having true mental or physical issues, please seek professional assistance.


At the moment, I work for a family owned grocery store where I am groomed and sexually harassed by my manager. He almost exclusively hires young women and many of them have been treated the same way.

Over the last decade, several people have tried to put an end to his behaviour but it is covered up and excused by the family time and time again.


I have spoken to the external HR representative and she suggested I make a formal complaint. I still can't shake the feeling that nothing will happen, and I will be left feeling more drained and hopeless.


I am ready to walk in and quit on Monday morning so I can make space for work I am actually passionate about.

While it would be easier to forget and move on, I cannot live with the guilt of knowing he is still making advances on other young women and teenagers. I am so very scared, but cannot and will not be a bystander to this any longer.


Do you have any advice for me on how to deal with this situation?


 

First, I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I am sure you feel overwhelmed and violated in so many ways. I wish him incurable jock itch for misusing his power in such a gross and egregious way. I also wish him worse than that, let’s be honest, but we can start there.


Second, I’m not an attorney, so I can’t speak to you about what your rights are here, and I would really love to have that perspective for you. I can guide as a woman and a friend, but these are not legal opinions on courses of action, and I am not an HR expert.


If you’re planning on walking in and quitting, which I fully support you doing, what concerns do you have about making the formal complaint? They won’t be your employer anymore, and any recourse that they have against you (which should be none, but that doesn’t always work out that way), would be limited. In theory, they could attack your character outside of work, but they run the risk of giving daylight to a well-established pattern and encouraging other people to chime in with their experiences. It’s not impossible, but it may be unlikely.


I love that you want to protect other women, and I support you in doing that. If the only thing that you have to lose is a job that you weren’t going back to, go for it. Let’s be honest, though, trauma and abuse don’t really work like that. Our experiences and our reactions to those experiences are not black and white. I would suggest talking to a therapist and building up the arsenal of support that you need if you really want to expose this for what it is. It also wouldn’t hurt to talk to an attorney about what recourse you have for sexual harassment and workplace abuse under local laws.


I would also very clearly decide what you want. Is it to protect other women? Is it compensation for pain and suffering? Is it a change in their policies? A more transparent HR process? For that person to be fired? Some of these things are concrete in theory but much harder to prove in practice, and you will need to understand that before committing to an outcome.


I support you in whatever you choose to do, whether that is self-preservation and support from community, filing a formal complaint, getting an attorney or just speaking about your experiences publicly. There is no right answer.


Regardless what you choose, we’re in your corner.


L2



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