I work for a very small office company in a VERY small blue collar town (population 350) with corrupt police and city officials.At my job recently, my boss (female) has been coming into my office and slapping me for any little thing I do wrong (forgot to refill the paper in the printer, left the lights on before I left for the night, didn't take the trash out of the lunch room). It started off with her coming in and slapping me with just her bare hand 4 or 5 times, now she has been using a belt across my shoulders and legs 10-15 times. She says that if I go to the police, she'll tell them that I've been sexually harassing her and that the other employees and police will believe her (her cousin is the chief of police) and I'll go to jail. I don't know what to do.
Employment / Labor Attorney
I am a California attorney and not eligible to give legal advice in your state. The following is information only, based on federal law and general legal principles. YOUR STATE MAY HAVE ITS OWN LAWS THAT PROVIDE SIMILAR OR GREATER PROTECTION.
You commented that you are concerned no one will believe you because you are male and your supervisor is female. Please don't let that stop you from taking action to protect yourself and get this behavior to stop. While it is true this kind of behavior is more commonly done by men against women, a very important element is that it is your supervisor doing these things. She has power over you and is abusing it. Most people in the employment law arena understand how power can be abused, and most of us have seen this kind of thing more than once.
As another attorney mentioned, think about evidence. For example, if she is using a belt on you, it is probably leaving a red mark or maybe even a welt. Go into the mens' room and take your shirt off and photograph the marks. If the marks are still visible after work, show them to a friend or family member. Better still, go to a doctor and establish a medical record. Keep a running log of each event, including the date, time, what was said and by whom, and who else was present or within earshot. If you have a therapist, tell the therapist. If you participate in a religious organization, tell the minister or priest and show your wounds. You will need evidence.
By the way, one cannot be jailed for sexual harassment. If a person commits a criminal offense such as battery or sexual battery, and if the person is prosecuted, and if a jury finds the person found guilty, and if the judge sentences the person to jail time, then the person goes to jail. But not for sexual harassment.
I assume you've been looking for other employment and I'm sure it's hard in a very small town, especially during these economic times. Please don't give up. You risk more than physical harm; you also risk psychological harm that can stay with you forever.
As other attorneys have said, you need to get legal counsel. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in your area, please go to the web site of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). NELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the country for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.nela.org, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.
I wish you the very best in this terrible situation.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
Talk with an experienced employment attorney in Minneapolis about bringing a civil claim for sexual harassment and battery.
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.
Ms. Mccall gives you good advice. Just one other thing that I want to add: Think evidence.
Good luck to you.
Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.
One thing I'd like to add to other responses already given is that you should consider setting up a recording device in your office. In Minnesota, you only need one party to consent to having conversations recorded for it to be legal. I'm assuming you would consent to the recordation.
If you record these kinds of conversations/encounters, it provides a judge and a jury pretty strong evidence in your favor.