General chatter - Harrassment in the workplace?




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mammasita
04-17-2012, 11:18 AM
Has anyone ever been in the position where you are the recipient of unwanted comments or invasion of personal space at work? What did you/would you do?

I'm torn because it has happened to me and I didn't/haven't/dont really want to do anything about it. I know, thats the WORST possible choice but it's a difficult place to be.

A married co-worker of mine finds it necessary to compliment me, come up behind me and hug me, tell me I'm looking very good in a tone that's just UGH.

In my mind (and I realize this is entirely backwards) it's hard for a couple reasons:

I'd hate to ruin his (or anyones) career
I feel like he is harmless


I have "somewhat" inappropriate emails/IMs from him saying things like "if I werent married, we'd be together" and "you look good today"....and these usually come as a reply to me when I send out a work related email to a group of people, he replies only to me with his comments.

I don't deal with him on a routine basis, so I can easily avoid him. Another co-worker of mine who I trust and am friends with outside of work knows about the situation and said I should go to HR. I guess I'm just confused and playing it down to be less than it is?


threenorns
04-17-2012, 11:20 AM
those are not "somewhat" inappropriate - those are WAY OUT OF FREAKING LINE!

if it were your husband writing them to a co-worker, would you tell him "harry, don't be somewhat inappropriate"?

GO TO HR.

if his career is ruined, you didn't do it - HE did. if you're driving a car and he shoots out into the road in front of you, is it your fault he's roadkill?

trust me on this: if you don't bring this to official attention now, it's going to get ugly. guys like that do not take rejection lightly and when it finally sinks in that you're not interested and never will be, he will probably ruin YOUR career.

mammasita
04-17-2012, 11:26 AM
those are not "somewhat" inappropriate - those are WAY OUT OF FREAKING LINE!

if it were your husband writing them to a co-worker, would you tell him "harry, don't be somewhat inappropriate"?

GO TO HR.

if his career is ruined, you didn't do it - HE did. if you're driving a car and he shoots out into the road in front of you, is it your fault he's roadkill?

trust me on this: if you don't bring this to official attention now, it's going to get ugly. guys like that do not take rejection lightly and when it finally sinks in that you're not interested and never will be, he will probably ruin YOUR career.

You're right. I would probably, no I WOULD strangle my husband and then kick him out.


Ramra
04-17-2012, 11:29 AM
He kind of sounds like a weirdo. :P

I agree with the others, go to HR. You don't want this to escalate!

bargoo
04-17-2012, 11:32 AM
Go to HR, do not be shy about it. This is sexual harassment. If he gets in trouble, and he should, it is his fault, not yours. Don't tell him what you are going to do, but do it.

krampus
04-17-2012, 11:33 AM
Tell him it's creeping you out and you're going to have to go to HR if he keeps it up. That'll give him a chance to apologize and stop doing it and you can avoid getting the "officials" involved (you sound hesitant to take it to the next level, which I can understand).

Or you could just go to HR and let them deal with it. He shouldn't be touching you and saying these things to you, married or single or whatever!

guacamole
04-17-2012, 11:43 AM
What I would do is have something in writing telling him his comments are inappropriate and you want them to stop. Next time he sends a suggestive reply to one of your group work emails - reply back to him with a "cease and desist" email. Tell him that you value a good working relationship with him, but that if he touches you or makes any further suggestive remarks, you will have to speak to HR and file a complaint. That will probably scare him enough to back off without actually having to open an official case with HR. However, if he ignores your request/warning - go immediately to HR with all of the slimy emails that he sent to you and the email you sent to him asking him to stop his inappropriate behavior and communication. Most of the time, companies want a paper trail of proof - not just a he said/she said.

Amy23
04-17-2012, 11:55 AM
Whoa, so out of line. His poor wife.

Please don't let this continue because you think he's "harmless." Your silence is probably being mistaken for encouragement or at the very least, tolerance.

You should not have to put up with this. If he was so worried about ruining his career then he'd be behaving more professionally toward his co-workers. His responsibility, not yours. You've done nothing wrong.

Try talking to him in a casual way. Let him know you like your space, and ask him nicely to just back off a little. If he doesn't, you might have to talk to a supervisor. Doing/saying nothing won't work as the behaviors are likely to escalate the longer you are silent and passive. It can only end in disaster if things don't come to a halt now.

MiZTaCCen
04-17-2012, 12:03 PM
You need to tell him to stop, if you don't he will continue to think it's okay. If you can't say it face to face say it in the IM's to him that he sends you. He'll probably stop being a creep as soon as you say it. If he doesn't THEN I would go to HR and file a formal complaint. I wouldn't exactly go straight to HR without first telling him not to do it, thats just me tho.

Beach Patrol
04-17-2012, 12:04 PM
What I would do is have something in writing telling him his comments are inappropriate and you want them to stop. Next time he sends a suggestive reply to one of your group work emails - reply back to him with a "cease and desist" email. Tell him that you value a good working relationship with him, but that if he touches you or makes any further suggestive remarks, you will have to speak to HR and file a complaint. That will probably scare him enough to back off without actually having to open an official case with HR. However, if he ignores your request/warning - go immediately to HR with all of the slimy emails that he sent to you and the email you sent to him asking him to stop his inappropriate behavior and communication. Most of the time, companies want a paper trail of proof - not just a he said/she said.

THIS!!!

Yes, his actions are inappropriate. The very first thing you should do is establish boundaries. TELL HIM his actions are inappropriate and make you uncomfortable. TELL HIM to knock it off! Keep a record of dates, times, words exchanged, etc. ESP. keep copies of emails, etc.

Maybe he is "harmless". But a person can be "complimentary" toward you without acting inappropriately. Big difference between "you sure look good today!" and "nice outfit!" ya know what I mean??

bargoo
04-17-2012, 12:49 PM
When you go to HR be sure and take the emails he has been sending you.Very IMportant.

Vex
04-17-2012, 12:55 PM
I'm going to agree the emails are way out of line. Have you saved them? If you haven't asked him to stop, do it. If he doesn't, go to HR.

If you feel uncomfortable going to him and telling him to stop, then go directly to HR. Make sure you have your emails.

Vex
04-17-2012, 12:57 PM
and added thought - what happens someday when he hits "reply all" instead of just you on one of those emails?

Munchy
04-17-2012, 01:45 PM
What I would do is have something in writing telling him his comments are inappropriate and you want them to stop. Next time he sends a suggestive reply to one of your group work emails - reply back to him with a "cease and desist" email. Tell him that you value a good working relationship with him, but that if he touches you or makes any further suggestive remarks, you will have to speak to HR and file a complaint. That will probably scare him enough to back off without actually having to open an official case with HR. However, if he ignores your request/warning - go immediately to HR with all of the slimy emails that he sent to you and the email you sent to him asking him to stop his inappropriate behavior and communication. Most of the time, companies want a paper trail of proof - not just a he said/she said.


Yep! Exactly this.

mammasita
04-17-2012, 01:49 PM
and added thought - what happens someday when he hits "reply all" instead of just you on one of those emails?

I hope he slips up like that, it would make my day.

threenorns
04-17-2012, 01:52 PM
except you know darned well at least some of the recipients will believe you and he have been carrying on.

sunshauna
04-17-2012, 01:53 PM
Guacamole had great advice. In my experience with HR, one of the definitions of sexual harrassment is "unwanted" comments or touching. While what he is doing is clearly inappropriate, you need to make it clear to him that it's unwanted. The best way is by email so there's a paper trail. Also remember that if he is doing this to you, he either has, or will, do it to others. If I were in that position, I would email him and tell him to stop, then I would e-mail (think papertrail) HR what has happened and that you don't want to make a formal complaint at this time, but you want them to be aware in case anyone else makes a similiar complaint. (They may or may not address it with him, depending on your HR--most will to cover their butts from lawsuits). The reason I suggest a paper trail with HR is because we had an employee who was written up a couple times for sexual harrassment, but the complaints mysteriously disappeared out of his personnel file because a certain manager liked the guy. At minimum, tell him to stop. Preferably, also tell HR what you have done because they deserve to be aware in case it happens to anyone else. Think about this guy getting promoted. HR should know about this so they can make good decisions about who to promote. On a side note, in my experience, when coworkers harrassed me and I told them to stop, they did, with no further problems. On the other hand, when I rejected supervisors approaches, they became A**holes. Don't let this scum get promoted.

mammasita
04-17-2012, 01:53 PM
Guacamole, munchy, beachpatrol -

I like that approach. I am going to have a word with him when we have a moment. Very very busy week this week for him and his team so not a good time for an "aside" chat UNLESS he says something out of line to me.

Vex
04-17-2012, 02:04 PM
I'm sorry, but his schedule isn't the issue here. Too bad if he's busy. You really have to start thinking of this has "he is doing something wrong." rather than not wanting to inconvenience him and being a bother. How much of YOUR time has he absorbed by you having to deal with it?

.

beautifulone
04-17-2012, 03:11 PM
Mammasite, good for you for looking into this and getting input! I imagine that if it were me in the situation, I might have the same "I don't want to destroy his career" response you've described, so I really want to offer you a "yay" for deciding to move beyond that. Based on your response about if your husband (hypothetically) were to make these comments, you know that they are out of line. It's just hard sometimes to put ourselves first when it comes at the risk of someone else encountering problems, but everyone here is right - anything he endures will be a result of his thoughtlessness and not in any way your fault.

I think it's fantastic that you'll tell him his comments are unwanted. If I can make another suggestion, it's probably a good idea to follow the conversation up with an email just so that you do have a paper trail in case it is needed later on.

Good for you. Best of luck!

Ramra
04-17-2012, 03:18 PM
and added thought - what happens someday when he hits "reply all" instead of just you on one of those emails?

That's a great point! Don't let this happen to you! You have to put yourself first.

samcakes
04-17-2012, 03:48 PM
have you talked to him about it? i ask because i have a lot of harmless friends that act this way as well. but once it made me uncomfortable (my friend josh was flirting with me with his gf in the next room) i talked to him, told him that it wasnt cool, and he stopped.

i think you should give him a warning before you get the boss involved, if you have already told him it makes you uncomfortable, go to hr and talk to them. but if you havent talked to him he may not see that his behavior is inappropriate

Natasha22
04-17-2012, 04:18 PM
I agree that you should first give him a chance to adjust his behavior and act properly. Tell him his remarks and e-mails are making you feel uncomfortable and if they don't stop you will be forced to report him to HR. I'm sure this will make him stop. If it doesn't, go straight away to HR, because he's the one ruining his own career. And also, his poor wife.

Trazey34
04-17-2012, 04:48 PM
NOT saying anything (either to him directly, thru email, or thru HR) is giving him tacit permission to continue.

A simple "listen, this is making me uncomfortable let's just keep things professional ok?" is enough, but if he persists it's HR time for sure!!

**I had an incident last year, a guy overheard me saying something like "just slip it into my box" meaning my mail slot and he said "that's right SHOVE it in her box, she LOVES it when you JAM it in her box" NO KIDDING. I waited til we were alone, and I said "If my husband had heard you say those things, you would have been on the ground in 2 minutes" He hasn't looked twice at me since :D

VermontMom
04-17-2012, 08:50 PM
mamacita, I hope everyone's replies and support will MAKE you take action...no man should make us so uncomfortable when it is not our fault!!

and it makes you feel so very good to be able to take them up on it. Let them know that at least in this case, it will not be tolerated and it is NOT okay.

one d-bag customer commented on my tee shirt, it was a t-shirt from a function we had both coincidentally been to... and he said 'but it always looks better on my bedroom floor' and there was a line of customers. I waited a couple days and went to HIS workplace, went right up to him and oh-so-quietly and calmly said 'don't you EVER embarrass me at my workplace like that'.

I know my incidence didn't involve touching but still it was gross to me and I felt so very good standing up for myself. Trazey, you did great!!

JohnP
04-17-2012, 10:21 PM
This is just my OPINION.

Going directly to HR is going to put you on their radar. Right or wrong - it will. It is also going to be a pain.

I would suggest simply telling the guy, in an email, that the extra attention is not wanted. You don't need to tell him you're going to HR. Just tell him to stop.

Something like this.

Hi Bob -

I just wanted you to know I am not a huggy touchy person so the attention you're giving me makes me uncomfortable. Please stop.

Also I am not interested in any kind of relationship with you regardless of whether you're married, or not.

Thank you,

Joyce

If he continues then you go to HR. You have a paper trail, and you look like someone who is smart and tried to solve the problem without wasting company resources.

kimminy
04-17-2012, 10:50 PM
You have to stick up for yourself and just say "stop it, I don't want you to talk to me like that or touch me". Say it firmly and assertively.

I know so many of my friends who always complain about unwanted male attention and I can't help but think it's because they WANT attention, because if they didn't they'd say "bugger off" right off the bat. Plus, then they get the added attention from complaining to their friends about it.

Not sure if that's your circumstance and it might be different since he is a co-worker. Plus, I'm probably bad at understanding people's sensitivity around subjects like that since I'm pretty blunt and honest with everyone lol.

mammasita
04-18-2012, 09:45 AM
This is just my OPINION.

Going directly to HR is going to put you on their radar. Right or wrong - it will. It is also going to be a pain.

I would suggest simply telling the guy, in an email, that the extra attention is not wanted. You don't need to tell him you're going to HR. Just tell him to stop.

Something like this.

Hi Bob -

I just wanted you to know I am not a huggy touchy person so the attention you're giving me makes me uncomfortable. Please stop.

Also I am not interested in any kind of relationship with you regardless of whether you're married, or not.

Thank you,

Joyce

If he continues then you go to HR. You have a paper trail, and you look like someone who is smart and tried to solve the problem without wasting company resources.

I agree with your opinion 100%. I do feel like problems should be solved at the lowest level possible. If that doesn't work, it should be escalated.

I also know that going to HR would put me on the radar......without a doubt.

bargoo
04-18-2012, 09:59 AM
At one time a supervisor at work, not my supervisor but of another department asked me to go out with him. he is married and a total jerk, I wouldn't have gone out with him if he were the last man on earth. I wondered how to turn him down as knowing the jerk that he is if I didn't handle it properly that he could make trouble for me. I just said"No, Ron, I don't think that would be a good idea." Some months later he came to me and reminded me of asking me out and said to me "You were right." And that was the end of that.

Munchy
04-18-2012, 10:44 AM
Guacamole, munchy, beachpatrol -

I like that approach. I am going to have a word with him when we have a moment. Very very busy week this week for him and his team so not a good time for an "aside" chat UNLESS he says something out of line to me.

You can send the email right now! If you don't have it via paper trail, there really isn't any way of showing that you did tell him to stop. JohnP's advice is spot on.

XLMuffnTop
04-18-2012, 10:51 AM
You can send the email right now! If you don't have it via paper trail, there really isn't any way of showing that you did tell him to stop. JohnP's advice is spot on.

Agreed. Here we do most things with departments we serve by email or if we must do something by phone, we follow up with an email. It's very much a CYA (cover your a**) mentality.

In addition, depending on what he says in return, you could potentially get mad, flustered, upset, etc. which may lessen the impact of the statement you're trying to make. The clear cut email eliminates any distractions.

JudgeDread
04-19-2012, 12:28 PM
Gross, you need to tell him off! I think you have grounds to go to HR for sure, but if you don't want to go there......TELL HIM. He will get butt hurt, but what do you care if he is creeping you out.

Tell him to either flat out stop talking to you, or tell him that he's creepy. That should shut him up. If he doesn't stop go to HR. Document EVERYTHING. Good luck, I have creepers at work too and I have to tell them off and I have had to tell them not to touch me, at all, and that they are creepy........it works (it's a male working environment).

mammasita
04-19-2012, 12:38 PM
SO I did talk to HR yesterday "unofficially". I let her know the who and what and decided, based on what we talked about, that the best course of action is to sternly tell him its unacceptable, I don't like it and to stop. If it continues I will officially report him.

Vex
04-19-2012, 09:22 PM
Good! Takes some courage to do that.

JohnP
04-19-2012, 09:29 PM
SO I did talk to HR yesterday "unofficially". I let her know the who and what and decided, based on what we talked about, that the best course of action is to sternly tell him its unacceptable, I don't like it and to stop. If it continues I will officially report him.

Either you work for a small company or the HR person you talked to is poorly trained.

There is no such thing as an "unofficial" conversation when it comes to harrassment.

Laws vary by state but here in California the company would have a legal obligation to follow up on this "talk".

bargoo
04-19-2012, 11:27 PM
Document everything, especislly this talk you had with HR and save everything especially email incoming and outgoing.

juliana77
04-19-2012, 11:51 PM
Chances are, you aren't the only one. By talking to HR you help others as well. But I agree with John, you can't "unofficially" talk to HR about this kind of thing, so not sure how that works.

I once reported someone who left a note on my friend's desk saying how hot she looked (they were both married to other people). He got talked to, but it didn't "ruin his career" or anything like that. There was another incident where a manager at my office tried to kiss another friend of mine! She reported him and it was handled, but he's still there and in the same position as well. HR isn't there to fire people because of one harassment incident, so please don't worry about that. They want YOU to feel comfortable at work so you can be productive.

valpal23
04-19-2012, 11:57 PM
wow. thanks for posting this thread. I'm seriously in the middle of my own complaint against someone. I have no advice, except document everything, including the conversation with HR. And JohnP is right. (well, in Canada anyways.)

It's really reassuring to know I'm not completely freaking crazy. *hug* all the best.

Justwant2Bhealthy
04-20-2012, 05:44 PM
... the best course of action is to sternly tell him its unacceptable, I don't like it and to stop. If it continues I will officially report him.

Now, you see -- she recommended that you do exactly as John P. and others advised you to do. I always tried to handle it myself first, and if they didn't stop or back down, then I would report them. Many guys will back off with a good, "stern" warning becuz they really don't want a black mark on their work record.


HI VAL ~ nice to see you drop by; sure hope that situation at your workplace gets resolved real soon too! :hug:

mammasita
04-23-2012, 12:57 PM
Either you work for a small company or the HR person you talked to is poorly trained.

There is no such thing as an "unofficial" conversation when it comes to harrassment.

Laws vary by state but here in California the company would have a legal obligation to follow up on this "talk".

It is a HUGE company and she did say that she is now obligated to follow up with me but wont follow up with him unless I continue to have problems after he's been asked to stop.