29

Background:

  • I am a straight Asian male in my mid-twenties.
  • In May, I would be celebrating my third year anniversary at my current company as a finance manager.
  • In 2016 and 2017, I was the employee of the year.
  • My boss (a chief exec) hired me after we worked together at another company. I don't only respect him as my boss, but also consider him a friend and mentor.
  • I report to the same chief executive that the director of HR also reports to directly. I opted not to report these events to HR because of the conflict of interest.

I have two recorded incidents of my CEO/founder/owner nastily making fun of me for my sexuality. First, from across a large table with several witnesses, he gestured to my boss that he should let me perform fellatio on him and they both laughed. During the second incident, he rambled to me that I should not date sensitive guys; he was insinuating that my boss was a sensitive guy. He then went on to tell me that on our company website, it says that I followed my boss to the borough we live in to be close to him (not true as I had already lived there before I started working there). At this point I was visibly upset and this is when he grabbed me and blocked me from getting away because he was worried that he'd offended me and that he'd get caught. I ended up freeing myself from his clutches and went straight to my boss' wife because I thought he would never dare bother me with her, but he followed me and continued to make light of this mortifying situation. I left the event in horror.

In both of these incidents, this CEO was very drunk. He's known for not being able to hold his liquor.

One issue is that these incidents happened several months ago and I decided not to tell HR because it is humiliating and I am very concerned about my reputation and legacy. I am a man and I take my career seriously. I have worked very hard to be where I am and I really don't want this situation to be part of the picture I am trying to paint for myself. I just wanted to work hard and forget about this. I also haven't talked to my boss about this for the same reasons.

As I said, these incidents happened several months ago and since then my relationship with my boss has changed. He has stopped caring about my development and only talks to me on an as-needed basis. He has changed from being a personable leader to a detached manager. I quickly felt like I was no longer in the "circle of trust". He has given me impossible tasks and deadlines which I tried to veto with logic, but he would not talk to me for weeks if I didn't comply. My thoughts were to always "protect the relationship" no matter how frustrated I was so I just worked the ridiculous 70-90 hour work weeks to get it done in hopes that our professional relationship would be restored as it used to be.

Recently, my boss' new venture is to try to completely be hands-off from the financials which includes his review of my work. This week, he is trying to get me to delegate his review of my work to one my first-year staff members. I've expressed to him that what he is proposing is completely disrespectful to me as a manager, but he's pushed this agenda on me three times now in the past 2 weeks. Today I told him that it was a hard no, but he still wants to discuss it tomorrow. It feels like he is pushing my buttons and pushing me out.

In the event I end up leaving voluntarily by being pushed out or getting terminated, do I have a case here or should I just cut my losses and let karma do the rest?

closed as off-topic by gnat, Jenny D, Dmitry Grigoryev, Twyxz, Mister Positive Apr 5 at 13:46

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

  • "Questions require a goal that we can address. Rather than explaining the difficulties of your situation, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, see this meta post." – gnat, Mister Positive
  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – Jenny D, Dmitry Grigoryev, Twyxz
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 14
    In addition to my answer below, I'd like to note that HR has no conflict of interest. They have legal obligations to you, and to the company. Those aren't in conflict. Neither are their interests. They are to protect the company to the point to where their legal obligations force them to put your interests first. – Malisbad Apr 5 at 1:52
  • thank you for your advice. i'm really scared about the whiplash I could get from my company for reporting this so I'm just going to lay low and look for a new job. my problem now is that the job market is so competitive in my city that I'm not sure how long it will take to find a new job. – livealittestoic Apr 5 at 1:54
  • 1
    Does your company have a Code of Conduct? Is that being enforced? You may consider filing a complaint against a code of conduct violation. (And before someone says "oh, they never apply CoC violations against the CEO -- I work for a billion dollar global company, which in the past couple of years send both its CEO and its CTO packing due to CoC violations (unrelated events)) – Abigail Apr 5 at 11:53
  • 1
    @abigail Were they also the owner of the company? – Gregory Currie Apr 5 at 23:29
97

You need a lawyer

What you have experienced is sexual harassment. You are being further victimized by having your career damaged by this person. You need a lawyer

HR will not be your friend here. They will do their best to protect the company, and as a male, you will have great difficulty going forward. You need a lawyer

Everything you have done before, during, and after the incidents will be examined and critiqued.

You can bow out and go elsewhere, but if you want to do anything about this person and their behaviour You need a lawyer

  • 8
    I'm curious about why you state that it will be harder to get justice because op is male? Wouldn't HR protect the company/CEO first regardless of the victim's gender? Or do you say they would not dismiss it as easily for a woman because it would be more likely to get public attention? – Julien Lopez Apr 5 at 9:05
  • 7
    I'd argue that the boss's actions are so bad, HR would want to make OP happy and as less likely as possible to start a lawsuit. Yes, HR protects the company, they're not the employee's friend. But in this case, protecting the company would mean not getting sued over something the law clearly protects. But I agree with you, OP should go to a lawyer first, then HR. – MlleMei Apr 5 at 10:09
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    Also, they should start documenting everything and save written communications somewhere the employer can't delete them (employers deleting e-mails happens). – MlleMei Apr 5 at 10:10
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    @JulienLopez There are several reasons (mostly down to forms of toxic masculinity), including ingrained views that men should "tough it out" / "stop being a sissy", or that it's "lads' culture" so the men, as "part of the group", should accept things that the women (not being "lads") don't have to. – Chronocidal Apr 5 at 10:25
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    Although it may be obvious, consulting one or more lawyer(s) should be your first step before you take any step like deciding to resign. – krubo Apr 5 at 13:39
26

You should seek legal assistance, but just answering your last question, if you quit because they have put unreasonable demands on you, especially because of a reaction you may have had to inappropriate conduct, it could be argued is Constructive Dismissal

This is probably an incredibly tricky place in law. And I'm really hesitant to suggest what you should do, because you really should see a lawyer.

An example of a course of action would be to complain to HR. HR will either not act, in which you can sue the company, HR will act and recommend to the CEO that he steps down which will probably not be followed. Following that, you can then sue.

In addition there may be criminal aspects to this.

I also want to talk in practical terms. HR is not your friend, and will be incredibly hesitant to go up against the owner and CEO.

Whatever happens, the end result is the current owner will remain the owner of the business. So whatever events, going to court, criminal cases, suing, whatever, at the end of the day, you will still ultimately be working for him if you remain at this company.

  • 2
    @GregoryCurrie makes a great case here. You're likely going to want to move on. He and I agree on one thing. You need legal assistance. – Malisbad Apr 5 at 5:20
  • Thanks guys. You guys have both been very helpful. – livealittestoic Apr 6 at 1:03
6

"Grabbing somebody and preventing them getting way" is straightforward criminal assault.

That is a crime that has nothing to do with sexuality. If you have witnesses who are prepared to give evidence, just go to the police and insist on pressing charges. I expect a formal interview with the police will knock a bit of sense into the guy's head, even if the matter doesn't end up in court.

  • Unfortunately even if I do have witnesses, they would never support me. This transpired over my boss' birthday at his house. He invited all of his closest friends and the chief executives. That's it. – livealittestoic Apr 6 at 1:01

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