SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ As a $36,000-a-year executive secretary, Catherine Morris' life was filled with the excitement of a Silicon Valley success story.

But according to a lawsuit, her life also included sex with her boss out of fear of losing her job. Now she wants $11 million in compensation.

The lawsuit Morris has filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court comes after her former boss, Anton Bruehl, lodged grand theft charges against her. He claims she forged $22,000 worth of checks in his name to buy herself various items over two years.

It all is said to have happened while the pair worked for Atari Inc., where Bruehl was president of the international division until last year and Morris was his secretary.

The alleged thefts were uncovered when Bruehl's wife looked at his files and found canceled checks made out to Morris and stores she patronized.

Bruehl, 42, said Morris often signed checks for him to pay bills, but has said under oath that their relationship was strictly professional and that he gave her only ''trinkets'' purchased by his wife. He would not discuss the case.

Morris' trial on the criminal charges is scheduled to begin Monday and she faces up to three years in prison if found guilty.

Harry J. Delizonna, lawyer for the 28-year-old woman, said Bruehl is lying about his relationship.

''Rather than confess to his wife that he was having sex with his secretary, he took the coward's way out,'' the lawyer said.

''I'm sort of anxious to get it over with,'' Morris said of the criminal trial. ''I want to clear my name. This is all so embarrassing.''

Morris said she submitted to sex with Bruehl under threat of losing her job. After Bruehl left Atari in June 1984, the suit says, his successor, Steve Chiramonte, also made sexual advances and was rebuffed. Morris was fired soon after.

Her suit names Bruehl, Chiramonte, Atari Inc., and its former parent company, Warner Communications. It seeks $5 million in punitive damages from each of the corporations and $500,000 from each of the two men.

Atari, once a high-flying Silicon Valley success story, has fallen on hard times. In its heyday, money and lavish parties were the rule and BMWs served as company cars, Morris said.