Creepy boss

hey'all, first post, be gentle. Twenty something family lawyer, just joined what I thought was a dream job in a medium-ish sized firm. Partner has wandering hands, started with a hand on the back as I entered meeting rooms, lowered over time. Spoke to him once and he said he didn't like my tone. I'm ok for legal advice ha ha, any advice on what to say to him? Anyone else fended similar off successfully without putting job on the line?

The fellow involved was a very senior equity partner. Married with three kids.

He was on his third wife who was also his former secretary. The total cliche. 

He was kind of sad and pathetic and obviously very lonely. 
and an utter creep. 

Welcome to the board.

Go straight to wife. Say he talks badly about her and regrets the kids.

Then inform partner that in any spot he touches you, he will be cut by someone you pay.

Look, if you do the calling out in private then the perp is going to get nowhere bad mouthing you. You just need to be clear and strong about what you say, incl “this must never happen again” and leave him in no doubt you will go to a higjer authority if it does. He will be pathetically grateful and you wont have any more hassle.

Anon I only said that because it is such unbelievably unusual behaviour to start touching someone up at work that there must be something else going on.

This is really not the kind of thing I’ve ever heard of happening to any friends


The minute you have a third party who can independently verify this, I believe his fate would be sealed.

In my old team a senior associate did his groping at a team event. And yet, he still made partner.  Your faith that lack of action is just down to evidence is naïve.

I disagree Minkie. My aforementioned mate did something similar. The partner then went on to badmouth her regardless. His fellow partners closed ranks, and it took a long time before she discovered that her drop in performance was down to Gropey's campaign against her.

unbelievably unusual behaviour to start touching someone up at work

It really really really isn't unusual. Seriously. Try not judging the world by what your friends are prepared to admit to you 

Minkie I totally disagree with that.


Confronting them in private with no witness’s is a really bad idea.

It might work if you have some seniority, or leverage,  yourself but as a junior all it does is give them the opportunity to pre empt you with any complaints you might take elsewhere. The OP already says that she has spoke to him and he ‘didn’t like her tone’. 


Also doing it privately means people WILL believe what they have to say about you.. because what possible reason would they have to be discrediting you by talking shit? 

and LMAO at any sleaze being ‘pathetically grateful’ for being told off in private. 

You assume they don’t know that their behaviour has zero consequences beyond a minor slap on the wrist.. even if the complaint is taken seriously. 



Everyone in my firm knew what the creepy partner was like. Everyone. It was a standing 'joke'. Women in the firm would avoid getting in the lift or a cab alone with him, they would hold files to their chests so he couldn't look down their tops, they would create citadels of boxes and papers on the floor round their desks so he couldn't get close. 

But he was senior and married and had kids. And the partners thought if they rolled their eyes and 'joked' about it too they wouldn't have to do anything. So nothing was done. That one man must have harassed hundreds of women in the course of his career. 

I really hope it's different now but I fear not. 

Well as I said I have only ever really worked with men closely and the women I’ve worked with have all been fairly distant colleagues so it just wouldn’t happen. It is completely alien to me. Maybe mention it to a male colleague and ask the guy to have a word about it and just be like ‘sort yourself out meht that’s not tally not appropriate’

Law firm partners are sexual predators non-shocka (do you still say that around here?)


It is so sad. I wish these people could be dealt with properly - i.e. for criminal harassment. You will not be the only one. Ask others. Get evidence. Report. There will be other jobs. It really sickens me.

The point is you should be able to raise it to any partner and they resolve it. It's not a 'men bad' scenario, but a 'man bad' one.

I've had it raised to me once about a client, who was very touchy, including with me. I just gave him a call and said it's not appropriate anymore and gave him an easy out about different cultures and that was that. 

It's funny how many times those other men are happy to turn a blind eye though. At my old shop, the only female partner in one group had to threaten to quit before the rest of the partners took action against a predator.

I am not suggesting all male partners enable, but enough do to make this a bad idea.

That is what should happen if the OP raised it informally with a partner. A quiet word and the creep blusters something to save face and backs off. 

But his response to OPs challenge has already been 'I don't like your tone' rather than 'Oh, sorry I didn't realise what I was doing. Thanks for pointing it out, won't happen again'. He's already rejected the 'easy out'. 

He is a partner, not a client. He has power over her which he has already demonstrated he is willing to abuse. He will quietly stab her in the back. She will end up leaving. Better she does so sooner on her own terms than later after he has started a smear campaign. 

Hi DigitalBanksy,

I’m not a lawyer so I won’t attempt to wade in with advice. But I am a woman and I just wanted to send you support and please do use this thread as a place to gather advice and vent 

You guys really have worked with quite a lot of unusual people.

I’ve never even heard of anyone getting overly handsy at work.

Not from friends either. Maybe someone fondling a stranger in a club or something but never at a point where they might get fired

No it’s just I’ve been sort of ‘cupped’ in a club before by men and I’ve heard of similar things happening to girls. Never anything like that in a work situation though

Who cares Baz, and why would you try to stifle a discussion like this anyway? It's about time this sort of thing was more openly discussed. Apart from anything else, it might make the Mugens of this world wake up.

+1 what everybody else has said about how grim this is.

Get a data trail in action. One thing you can do is take a day of sick leave, call your GP and report that you’re depressed because of being sexually assaulted by your boss. Evidentially, things like that can be decisive as it looks like it was never intended to be relied on. 

To Mugen’s point… I can honestly say that ever since leaving PP I’ve never experienced any element of sexual harrassment again. 

So maybe Mugen hasn’t seen/experienced it because they’ve never worked in PP where this behaviour is so prevalent. 

Not to say that it doesn’t happen elsewhere … but PP does seem to breed or harbour  a certain type of creep. 

"Davos a male client, hit on you......"

Men hit on me all the time. As do women.

But I don't know if this was hitting on me or not, just as the OP describes, hands on the back of the neck, low down on the back etc. Was doing the same to others as well. Wasn't grabbing my Johnson.

I’m surprised so many people are advocating just shrugging shoulders and moving on. It’s always worth having something lined up but are these guys seriously going to want a public employment tribunal? 

As said by some above, record record record in any way possible - email, GP, personal note taking, secret recordings of any incidents. No private chats with him which will give him the heads up and put him on the offensive.

Then go to HR and the Senior Partner with all of it. The big difference these days is that firms know that while it can, in an ideal world, be swept under the carpet, they have a genuine legal and reputational issue on their plates. 

The very, very least you should be getting if you feel you have to quit is a sizeable payout. 

I work in a male dominated company but when we’ve had incidents like this in the past, thankfully very rarely, they have been dealt with by dismissals and payouts. 

The reason so many are saying walk away is that the usual tactic in this situation is for the partner to smear the associate in advance, and to make their life very difficult if they do complain.

And you may think these circumstances are rare at your firm, but you are highly likely to only be aware of reported incident, which are usually the tip of the iceberg. Out of the women and couple of men I know who have been sexually harassed at work (well over 100), only 3 have made formal complaints and 10 have raised it informally.

The culture of your firm ought to be sound

it ought to do the right thing - if it does not then you should leave regardless of outcome. 

Covering these things up no longer works as good employment law practice

make notes and report to HR detailing as much as possible. Raise a grievance formally

they are duty bound to respond and to treat you fairly and to investigate. 

the firm ought to make a disclosure to the SRA also

Firms can no longer close ranks- you’ve said this is a firm of reasonable size - no one person is bigger than the firm and their potential liability to you will loss the other partners off massively. As it’ll be their money used to compensate you in due course 


Mugen, it’s sadly very common. You work in software iirc and so did I for 15 years in the same firm and it happened to me multiple times by multiple different men from senior, peer to junior. And it happened to me in another firm as well. I still have one of the apology letters.

The handling of it by different leaders etc really varied across the years. But the more junior I was, the harder it was to speak out. The last time I was fairly senior so had the courage to deal with it there and then. The person who did it was dismissed instantly. 

it’s very difficult to speak out. In the OP’s situation I would handle it very differently in my 20s then now my 40s. Best advice is record and likely try and manipulate a situation to avoid and find a friendly senior woman to talk to. 

He drew a very detailed picture of me naked in an open plan office in front of everyone with no shame or pretence in hiding it - he then showed me it and anyone who would look at it.

i actually think it would have been the same outcome if he’d been senior in that set of circumstances.



Orwell you know a hundred people who’ve experienced sexual harassment at work?

It does sound like a pretty endemic problem in that industry then. Or maybe just a few extremely prolific abusers at the top.

I guess a lot of other industries just aren’t structured like that where the bosses are also the business owners.

That tends only really to be start ups in my experience and most start up CEOs are generally the sorry of raging arseholes to touch up a girl at work but they don’t tend to employ a lot of women so the creepiness gets directed outside the company

Orwell you know a hundred people who’ve experienced sexual harassment at work?

Yes. And the vast majority has occurred to people at law firms (MC as it happens) so I have no doubt that governance has a lot to do with why it has been allowed to flourish, although the entrenched sexism I have also witnessed in several banks suggests the endemic bit is not just a lawyer thing.

This thread is very eye opening. Hearing about the harassment so many women here have experienced is grim AF.

It has done little to disabuse me of my prior assumption that law firms are a often a hunger games/fiefdom run for the benefit of a cadre of posho sociopathic goons on a power trip. 

I hope you can get out to a better situation soon, OP. And that you can do so without conceding too much of a win to the wrong 'us and losing yourself in the meantime.  

posho sociopathic goons on a power trip. 

The non-posh ones were the worst offenders at my old shop. Definitely not a class thing, but the power trip stuff is a real culture problem.

Interesting, Orwell. I guess it's more about the kind of personality traits that are incentivised and rewarded with power and promotion, rather than just class.

Yeah, this isn't going to end well for you.

Get a new job ASAP.


To those who are "surprised" this happens - I've been sexually assaulted and harassed at work multiple times.  My first encounter was someone who approached me to tell me "how sexy my voice was over the speaker" when I was 16.

I'd be more surprised to find a woman who has been in the workplace for any length of time who hasn't had some sort of sexual harassment or assault.

Of course it would be better for the greater good to report, maybe prevent the perv going after the next one, but this is OPs career. She can either manage to walk the tightrope of shaming him enough to back off but without him losing face and harming her career, or she can move on. Those are the options. 

Generally if women don't tend to stay long in a senior male's department, odds are he's a predator.

So sorry to the OP. Get yourself out of that firm. And write literally EVERYTHING down. Then hand it over at your Exit interview and say you’re happy to hand it to the SRA. They’ll close ranks unfortunately. 

Stardust - you’re obviously a woman. For men at least, it’s about sex. A man putting his hand on a female colleagues bum should be fired. Whether she wants him to put it on her bum or not. 

There are big perils for firms closing ranks - if they don’t take it seriously they’ll be hung out to dry and fined.

Things have changed in terms of the views of partnerships -  as a partner you don’t want to be in a partnership with a sleaze whose likely to create liability and reputations risk. 

Thing is, it’s not only about sex. It’s a well established psychological aspect of sexual assault and rape that it is about power and dominance. Google it, sweetheart. Also, the fact that men can’t manage their raaaaging hormones at work probably means they shouldn’t be in positions of responsibility, they’ll only do something stupid. 

Now run along and make me a brew, mmkay pumpkin? 

Also, what a weird flex from stardust in a thread about sexism, to use sexist language

quite odd. I do hope you haven’t been radicalised online into one of those alt right sexists, stardust

Don’t be silly, it was a funny tongue in cheek sign off in reply to you saying it was only about sex.🙄 i agree partially - ie they should be sacked, but it’s never just about sex. 

No not just sex it can be about love, or insecurity, or loneliness, or self-hatred, or low inhibition stemming from mental illness, or lack of boundaries owing to a fractured family life growing up, or hormones or boredom... and yes sometimes power and sometimes... and this might shock you... horniness.

Actually a woman (of dubious occupation) in a hotel bar in Budapest came over to me when I was ordering a pint and grabbed my cock and asked if I wanted a good time which - I stress - was without my consent - not sure what the law is in Hungary but that must count too

What Dusty said. This is almost always about power and dominance. It happens because the men in question (and occasionally women) believe their position entitled them to disregard consent and it so happens to deliberately belittle the victim.

And I really don't give a fvck if the cretins who do it have fractured family lives or low self esteem, but it is also done by secure individuals with no sob stories at all. They are all vile qunts.

There are big perils for firms closing ranks - if they don’t take it seriously they’ll be hung out to dry and fined. 

And yet, it is still happening in one major law firm I'm aware of. And the sponsor of one of the handsy people I've mentioned is now very very senior. The penalties for closing ranks on this and some other despicable behaviour are nowhere near high enough to genuinely discourage it.

Btw - certain partners, HR and marketing people at certain law firms nervously reading this wondering if there will be enough detail revealed to identify their firms: I doubt there's enough here for you to pull the same stunt you did over a certain slapping incident by suppressing comments. But you should know that eventually you're not going to be able to get away with this sh1t anymore.

I don't really know why it happens but I'm guessing it's a combination of lots of things and largely dependent on the culprit? 

I'd be very surprised if any adult human hasn't been sexually harassed/assaulted at work generally but certainly women will have encountered far more and will find it more threatening 

Whilst I can see the issue with in work relationships (for the bloke who gets sacked) I don't think workplaces should get involved in two consenting adults doing each other if they want. Bound to end in disaster one way or the other 

The positive, if there is one, is you do see a lot more partners just slink off without notice these days. The rumour about the one who was a coke sniffing bum slapper who was disappeared over night is my favourite 

sometimes you just need to get a couple of big mates to sidle up to the guy at a social event and make it clear what's going to happen if his behaviour continues, throw in a little plausible deniability if he wants to take it to the feds.

In my old days working in a hotel, I was harassed by an aggressive woman.. went to my boss and asked him to have a word and get her to stop touching me.. "Man up" was the answer.  

As a result, I know exactly how this made you feel (and spending half the meeting thinking "Did I imagine that or did it really happen").

I call it out if I see it, I will speak with the man involved and warn him this is not acceptable and I really DON'T CARE how important he is, he's scum.

i've once been asked to have a word with a senior partner about wandering hands and once about inappropriate language.


on both occasions being rebuked mortified them and they changed their approach.  


now i can really do something about it and i'd be pissed if i thought somebody in my firm was doing anything like this and stop it that day. (and have).  but i can only act if people tell me , so the critical bit is making it clear there are routes to doing that, even if they don't want to tell me in person.