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My boss has made several passes at me at a social event. He said if I complained it would end my chances of promotion. What can I do?
This behaviour is sexual harassment and you do not have to put up with it.
The first step is to make it clear to your boss that you do not like the behaviour and you want it to stop. Ask your union rep or HR to help you with this.
Just because you have put up with this kind of behaviour from your boss in the past, it does not mean you have to continue putting up with it. If you want it to change, you should make your objections clear.
Nowadays, all organisations should have zero tolerance of sexual harassment. Your employer should have a specific policy in place outlawing the behaviour and explaining how you can pursue your complaint. Get hold of a copy and discuss it with your union rep.
If the social event is work-related – for example, an office lunch, client dinner or office party – your employer will be liable for your boss's sexual harassment. Your boss will also be personally liable as an employee.
Keep hold of any evidence of the behaviour, such as text messages, emails, screengrabs of online postings and so on, in case it is denied.
Sometimes bosses may give the excuse that "everyone else was doing it". This is no defence, and the fact that other people also behaved in the same way does not make it acceptable in every case. Some people may not object, but that does not make it unreasonable for others to do so.
Your boss's threat to end your promotion chances is a clear breach of the ban on sexual harassment contained in the Equality Act 2010. If you are not a union member, you can get advice from the Equality Advisory and Support Service, Acas or Citizens Advice.
If you are thinking about a tribunal claim, be aware that time limits for bringing a tribunal claim are very short – you have just three months from the date of the act of discrimination or harassment to bring your claim.
For general information on bringing a tribunal claim, including information about Acas early conciliation and tribunal fees (including help with tribunal fees) see our section on Enforcing your Rights.