The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

May 3, 2013

Watercooler: Is This 'Dream Job' Really Worth It?

By Karla L. Miller
Special to The Washington Post

— Q: I just got my dream job a week ago as executive assistant to the managing director of a business. I will also do special projects for the business owner, who is well known in the local music industry. On my second day of work, when my boss was out, the owner asked if I would like to see a music video he had made. He proceeded to show me a video of himself receiving oral sex. He then told me it would be best if I did not share this with my boss.

Of course, I told my boss, who included me on a call to our outsourced HR department. During the call, my boss mentioned a former intern at the business who had left prematurely; it was clear to me she left because of something the owner had done. My boss, a father himself, seems to be very protective, and has insisted the owner come in only two days a week for now. The owner has been extremely respectful toward me since then.

Is there anything else I should do? I want to keep this job, but I am on a three-month probationary period and want to protect myself.

A: Would your "protective" boss make his own daughter spend two days a week hanging around a viper? Because that's essentially what he's doing to you.

Make no mistake: That Ron Jeremy wannabe is a sicko. This isn't about telling an off-color joke or misinterpreting a situation. His behavior is predatory and clearly a pattern.

You've done all the right things so far. If you want to go further, talk to an officer at your local police station about the possibility of pressing charges — yes, I'm serious — and how you can protect yourself. Document the incident and anything else the owner does that makes you uncomfortable. Ask your boss if he can change your job so you don't have to report to the owner.

Employment attorney Sharon Snyder of the Ober Kaler law firm says your employer has taken the legally required "appropriate corrective action" by putting a stop to the behavior and not retaliating against you. But neither of us thinks that will end the matter. The owner is behaving now — five days later, as of your letter — but one rap session with your boss and off-site HR is not going to fix what's wrong with his wiring.

In fact, Snyder is concerned that the owner will try to fire you once things settle down. Personally, I think getting fired should be the least of your worries. You have the right to stay in this dream job, but I frankly can't imagine any dream being worth the vigilance you will have to maintain to protect yourself.

Karla L. Miller writes an advice column on navigating the modern workplace. Each week she will answer one or two questions from readers. Miller has written for and edited tax publications for 16 years, most recently for the accounting firm KPMG's Washington National Tax office. Send your questions to wpmagazine@washpost.com. You can also find her on Twitter, @KarlaAtWork.