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Career Q&A | By Marie G. McIntyre, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

Woman should leave job as nanny amid sexual harassment

Q: My wife is a nanny who works for a married couple. She recently told me that the husband, who is a doctor, has been making sexually inappropriate remarks to her. I called the doctor's wife and told her about the situation, but nothing has changed.

Although this seems like harassment, I've been told there's nothing I can do about it. This guy apparently thinks he's untouchable, but he needs to be stopped before he harasses someone else.

A: Well, there's certainly one thing you can do about it: You can encourage your wife to remove herself from this traumatic and potentially hazardous situation. Considering your level of outrage, it's rather puzzling that you haven't advised her to quit.

I also find it a bit odd that you chose to call the doctor's wife instead of talking with him directly. Perhaps you hoped that having her relay the message would avoid an ugly confrontation, but expecting a spouse to police her sexually harassing husband is rather unrealistic.

You appear to be wishing for some type of legal recourse. However, since I'm not an attorney, I can't offer advice on that front. Those who say "there's nothing you can do" could be referring to the fact that federal sexual harassment laws may not cover this type of employment, but only a lawyer can properly advise you about legal options.

My own opinion is that you should be worrying less about retribution and more about your wife's mental and physical well-being. Not only is she having to fend off her employer's sexual advances, but she's also working in his house, so your first priority should be to get her out of there.

Seek out training for new role

Q: After working as a temporary administrative assistant for a small company, I was recently promoted to office manager. My boss said that she liked my professionalism. However, I'm beginning to wonder if I've gotten in over my head.

I'm being given unfamiliar tasks, no one ever explains anything, and I'm not sure exactly what my job includes. Now I'm constantly stressed out from worrying whether management is unhappy with me.

A: Your distress is understandable, because it's a big leap from temporary assistant to office manager. Someone owes you a clear job description, but since nobody is providing one, you will need to make the first move. Draft a list of your apparent responsibilities, then review it with your boss and reach agreement on a final version.

Next, rate your ability to perform each duty with an A, B or C. For each B & C rating, propose a strategy for quickly improving your skill level. Possibilities might include formal training, online research, "shadowing" experienced colleagues or getting coaching from your boss.

Review this development plan with your manager, and schedule regular feedback sessions to discuss your progress. However, if she seems reluctant to support you through this learning curve, you may want to consider other employment options.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics."

Woman should leave job as nanny amid sexual harassment 05/28/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 28, 2011 4:31am]
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