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What To Do With Unwanted Advances at Work

Dear Sugar,

I work for a commercial real estate company in a primarily male dominated environment. I have been put on a project where I am the sole decision maker and work as the liaison between architects, lawyers, designers, etc. As a women in this field, I often times feel a power struggle, but consider myself quite head strong and dedicated to my work.

Two days ago, after returning home from a series of meetings, I received an e-mail from a new client who was a personal referral from my boss, asking me on a dinner date. I was astonished as he had no qualms about crossing the client relationship line. Not only am I utterly not interested, his advance was completely unprofessional and he didn't want to take no for an answer.

The next day, I responded to his e-mail declining dinner but suggested we make plans for a working lunch as I didn't want to make an awkward situation worse. After receiving my message, he followed up with a voicemail apologizing for his out of line request. As if that wasn't enough, he carried on telling me that I was an attractive, intelligent woman and he would be a fool not to ask me out, followed up by another e-mail!

I will be in contact with this person for the duration of our project. Do you think it is unreasonable to tell my boss about our interaction and ask to be removed from the project? I don't want to jeopardize my career, but am extremely turned off by this man's constant inappropriate attention. Harassed Heidi

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Harassed Heidi
Well, this call is totally up to you. I am sure your boss would never want you to be in a vulnerable position at work, but make sure you don't jump the gun and make a rash decision that could jeopardize your career. With that said, I think you handled the situation perfectly and made your point very clear. The only problem here is that he just doesn't want to take no for an answer!

Do you think once his embarrassment of being turned down wears off you could put this situation behind you and be able to develop a working relationship? If so, I would give it a little time for the dust to settle, but if you truly feel uncomfortable and think this guy's attraction for you will disrupt the work at hand, by all means voice your concern. Being a woman should not deter you from standing up for yourself so keep strong and keep up the good work.

Join The Conversation
JessNess JessNess 10 years
Just keep turning him down but definitely keep all emails just incase something comes up. If it gets to the point where you cant handle it tell that you do not date clients and then ask to be removed but only if you are on the brink
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
It sounds like you called him out, he got embarrassed, and then tried to compliment you and explain it away at the same time. I bet he doesn't bring it up again. And if he does, just be polite and say you aren't interested. I think you'll be fine.
kittycat kittycat 10 years
keep turning him down. its annoying but u dont want to make a scene of it. reply to him through email and do it PROFESSIONALLY. send yourself a copy that way u have evidence of your interactions/denials with him. if he persists where it affects ur work, then report it. but stick up for urself and ur job.
lilxmissxmolly lilxmissxmolly 10 years
I think you're over-reacting. Just tell him no, no, no, as many times as it takes. If you're truly a strong woman, you'll be able to field him off and push your career forward. **“In my mind, I’ve always been an A-list Hollywood superstar. Y’all just didn’t know yet.” -Will Smith **
cubadog cubadog 10 years
Make sure you are documenting everything because his employer even if he owns the company can be sued for sexual harrassment. That is why in writing can be the best way so that you have a paper trail. Phone calls can turn into he said she said. I would also keep hard copies of your respones and save them to a disc that you can keep at home. I am all about covering your ass.
tra tra 10 years
Please, whatever you do, don't walk away from this fabulous work opportunity because of this jerk! You say you work in a predominately male workforce...if that's true, this probably will not (unfortunately) be the only time a male client/co-worker crosses the professional line. Handle this man professionally, make your stance clear and let your boss know that this occured and that you are handling it and if you need any further assistance from him regarding this co-worker, you will let him know. I'm sure your boss will back you up and appreciate and respect you more knowing that you can handle situations such as this and make you the lead on even more projects. Good luck.
Lindsb Lindsb 10 years
Most definitely write back in a very firm manner and make sure he knows you are not kidding. This could prove as evidence later if it were to go that far.. That said, it sounds like there have only been a couple advances. I wouldn't tell just yet. Your boss may not think you can handle things yourself. I would try my best to rectify the situation on my own. If the email asking him to stop doesn't work - I would most definitely verbalize it. If it escalates - that will be your call.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
I like the word situation.
cubadog cubadog 10 years
I would respond to this latest e-mail and tell him in writing that you do not want relationship outside of the workplace and would appreciate it if he would keep all correspondence professional. If the behavior continues I would then discuss the situation with your boss and decide together the best way to handle the situation.
martini-queenie martini-queenie 10 years
Yuck I hate getting hit on at work. It is so discouraging to see that while you're behaving professionally, some people continue to see you as a date and so frustrating that although you're the one who behaved appropriately you are now in danger of jeopardizing your career. Kudos to you for handling it so well thus far. As DS says, its a judgement call on your part. How closely do you have to work with him? Do you believe that your boss would be understanding about this situation?
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