Ask Amy: Tell HR about boss’s actions

Tribune Media News ServiceFebruary 7, 2014 

Dear Amy: I’m a young man, and my boss is several decades older. It is a hostile work environment (he has demeaned employees and made sexual comments to women).

Recently, he’s been commenting on my looks and clothes, occasionally telling me that I look handsome. I’ve caught him staring at my butt and also touching himself as he says he needs to use the bathroom.

I feel uncomfortable because this is getting more frequent. I know we’re both gay, and he knows that I’m engaged to my boyfriend.

I’m afraid to file a sexual harassment claim, because this behavior hasn’t been overt. I don’t have any proof, and he’s denied other charges brought up by other employees to HR. Plus, if I’m wrong, I don’t want to ruin his career because of my misinterpretation.


Dear Unsure: You should start by asking this man to stop. You say, “It makes me uncomfortable when you comment on how I look. Please don’t do that.”

You should document that you made this request, including the date and time and his reaction. Also document every instance of his making a comment or behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable.

Take your complaint to HR. Because others have complained, I can imagine two scenarios: Either the department is building a case, or HR will do nothing.

Staring, commenting on someone’s looks or gesturing constitutes possible sexual harassment, according to guidelines published at

Also check the guidelines to see if you want to pursue this beyond your company’s HR department.

Dear Amy: More than six months ago, a former colleague’s daughter died unexpectedly. I collected donations, most of which were cash, added my contribution, and then wrote a check to the charity they had selected and sent it to the colleague with our condolences.

When several months had passed and the check had not been cashed, I first contacted the charity, who confirmed that they didn’t have the check, then sent an email to the colleague asking how he was doing and letting him know he was in our thoughts and prayers.

He said they had not been able to open all the cards from people yet, and I let him know about the check, but that we all totally understood how difficult this was.

Should I send an email to the company asking those who contributed to contact me, then offer to return their money?


Dear Compassionate: You should have sent the check to the charity.

I hope you can understand how a shocked and grieving family may not be able to even open cards of condolence.

At this point, work with your bank to have this check voided and send a new one to the charity, with instructions for the charity to notify your colleague of the donation.

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