Saw Sexual Behavior! What Now?

Question:

I witnessed two co-worker’s sexual behavior at work. Should I report it? One co-worker has expressed hostile behavior towards me at work. But because no one saw or heard anything, I was unable to prove it. Nor did anyone but me see the two engaging in sex, so I cannot prove it, just like the hostility expressed at me. What should I do? Follow-up: We have cubicles and I happened to go towards the copier to make copies and she was showing him her private part. When she saw me she quickly put her dress down and he walked away. Just two weeks ago this guy had been desrespecting me and I brought it to my boses attention. Only when it happened twice did he call in an outside hr department to investigate and because he denied it it wasn’t considered a hostile environment just an employee issue they would deal with. Now, everyone has to fill out job descriptions and get sensitivity training and a harassment policy will be provided. It felt kind of like a slap in the face. I couldn’t understand where his behavior towards me was coming from and why she all of a sudden stop speaking to me. Then when I saw what I saw it all kind of falls into place. I don’t know what their motives towards me are.

Should I bring this up to HR without them telling me I have no proof one more time?

Many thanks.

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Is Gay Assistant Hitting On Students?

Question:

I have a tricky question. I am the boss and work in an athletic setting. I have an employee who I had had an attraction to and admitted it to her and we are working through it. There is no possibility because she is gay.

I have approached her on numerous occasions about having relationships (romantic) with undergraduate students. I have some evidence that she is dating an ex-player from last season who is still an undergrad until December, and nether one has come out of the closet.

My dilemma is that I have been through this before with an ex co-worker who was fired and I was promoted. My current assistant does a tremendous job and her personal life should be of no concern to mine. However, with the evidence that I do have, I am torn between confronting her again, which could lead to a lot of problems, since my evidence is not foolproof. The other problem is my other assistant (her best friend, and the potential love interest’s roommate) so I cannot get any information from her.

Do I keep acting like there is nothing going on and wait for them to come to me, or do I confront both of them and potentially lose both of them? I feel that even if they come to me after the graduation date, when it is perfectly all right to date, that they have been lying to me, to protect themselves and me. Do I still have to address the issue with them and my boss, or is it all right? Personally, I feel that they are lying and should be dealt with; however, for the good of the team, it would devastate all of them, and they are the ones who in the long run, will be hurt by it.

I don’t want to jump the gun in case they are just good friends. I am torn about this very much. All the people involved mean a lot to me (like little sisters) and I don’t want to hurt them. I have been praying for answers to help me figure out if they are an item or just good friends, and I keep getting mixed signs. If you can give me a little insight, I would appreciate it. Please email me back at your convenience. Thank you for your time.

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Calls All Of Us F****** Stupid!

Question:

Okay, I’ve read through the archives and still haven’t found the answers. Is it right that a boss can call you F****** stupid, F******moron and such in front of co-workers and clients and nothing can be done. This is done on a weekly basis. I would just like to know. She does this to everyone.

Signed,

Target of Boss

Answer:

Dear Target of Boss:

Hmmm, for a minute there I was worried that she was discriminating in her abusive language but as I can see she treats all of you the same without prejudice. This is a plus for her!

Actually, I don’t think she can talk to you like that. It’s called “Harassment” and your boss has, in effect, created a “hostile work environment” as viewed by most rational people. The group of employees that she supervises need to confront her as a group and notify her that her language is not tolerable nor should it be and secondly, that she is on notice for harassment. You put this in writing to her and to her supervisor and I bet things will go one of two ways. Either she will retaliate in which case you get an attorney that specifically specializes in sexual harassment or she will apologize to all of you and things will be much better. If she wants to keep her job, I’m sure she’ll choose the latter option. Good luck in your pursuit.

Put your faith in communication–the way it should be. Insisting on respectful communication earns what we call WEGO. Do let us know what you decide to do. Bad attitude and bad habits are not changed easily. The Workplace Doctors

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Why Should I Take Down My Pinup Calendar?

Question:

I am being written up for harassment. I was asked to take down a swimsuit calendar because a secretary could see only the small pictures on the back. I took it down and covered the offending pictures and rehung it. How can I be written up for harassment when the same calendar is hanging on a bulletin board in her department and which she often uses and on which she even posts racy jokes and cartoons. She has said nothing about that one. Help, I need somebody!

Signed,

Written Up

Answer:

Dear Written Up:

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I’m Afraid Of Our Accountant!

Question:

My company has an accountant who is in every day. In late summer last year, the accountant just stopped talking to me. This happened about 2 years earlier also, and when I asked him what was going on, he ignored me. Later, at a company funeral, he started talking to me again. For a while, it was all peaches and cream, but as I stated, late last summer, it started (the no talking) again. I do not know why and no one else did either.

Then, we went into chapter 11 so it’s now just me, the accountant and the bosses; the entire office/overhead had to go per the bank/court — the field crew are all still here but they are in the field all the time — well, things are getting progressively worse. Even though the accountant is only here 3 days a week, the stress level is unbelievable. He talks to everyone else, but if I enter a room/office, he stalks out, he curses in the copy room adjacent to my desk if no one else is around and knows I can hear his ranting. My bosses just think he’s a nut case, but things have been made to look as if I’m not doing my job. I’ve talked to the bosses on several occasions and kept brief notes on what’s been going on like files missing or misplaced. On and on — but the bosses are between a rock and a hard place due to the chapter 11 because they can’t “fire” him (independent contractor and because of the court/bank) now, today, I was called in the boss’s office to go over something, the accountant was in there and he went into “convulsions” the entire time I was talking to the boss about something. Then he finally snapped his pen in two! I just ignored him when I was in there as I do all the time. My boss told me about his shaking/convulsions and the pen — boss thought it was funny accountant was so “mental”.

I’m starting to become physically afraid of this person and what might happen if I’m here in the office alone. I’ve tried to ignore the “ignoring” but I just don’t have the strength any more. I want to give a “veiled threat” as I saw on your site; but if I have to follow through, can I collect unemployment because I don’t have another job? I’ve been here going on 15 years and love everything else but this! Maybe you can offer some advice?

Thank you.

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Should I report sexual behavior at work?

Question:

I witness two co-workers sexual behavior at work, should I report it. This particular co-worker has expressed hostile behavior towards me at work. But because no one saw or heard anything I was unable to prove it. Just like this behavior I witnessed. What should I do?

Signed,

Wondering about reporting sexual behavior

Answer:

Dear Wondering about reporting sexual behavior:

To provide you with an accurate answer, I would like to know what kind of behavior you witnessed? How did it happen that you saw it? Do you have an HR section and a supervisor or manager or is this a very small business?

That information will be helpful.

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Nasty Set Up Followed By Nasty Talk!

Question:

I’m a receptionist for a small company of about 20 people. We rent props to movie and TV shows, so there are truckers in and out all the time. I’ve been working here for about 6 months. When I first started my desk was where the truckers would come to pick up the props until one day my manager thought it would be fun to embarrass me and try to set me up with one of the guys because he thought I was cute. Well it turned ugly, and I when I reported it to human resources, she knew it could turn into a sexual harassment case, and the company would be in trouble. Especially since this wasn’t the first time this manager has harassed the receptionists. So they moved my desk. I report now to the accounting manager and He still works here.

Well ever since the move, all the other people in this place have been talking trash about me. There are two other ladies in accounting. Other co-workers say we’re all lesbians and they spread vicious rumors. They also talk about my clothes saying if I didn’t dress the way I do then nothing would have ever happened. I’m 19 and I wear form-fitting clothes not too tight. Maybe once or twice my stomach has shown a little, but that’s it. I normally wear sweaters because the truckers are nasty.

They tell anyone they can about how much they don’t like me and say any other nasty thing they can about me. One lady at my work hates me so much she slammed a cart hard into my desk and never said anything. She goes out of her way to bother me. I’ve brought this up to the owner, to human resources, and to my manager, but it’s still happening. I know people gossip, but this is out of control. Please tell me if there are any legal steps I can take. Can I sue for slander, harassment and hostile environment? I don’t even want to come in because I worry about what are they going to do to me next or say about me.

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Gay In A Gay Workplace, Yet Feel Left Out!

Question:

I work in retail. I found out my boss is gay. Well so am I. She thinks she is above all; it’s all about her. I am very private and to myself. My girl works for the same company, but not here. I keep her out of the picture, but they did meet one day. My boss talks like we are good friends. I listen. She is very open about gay life: she has a picture of her and her other.

Most of the workers in that store are gay, yet I feel I don’t fit in. My boss treats me differently. I’m just down to earth and shy. She talks down to me. One gal said I remind the boss of her x who comes in sometimes. Another said she likes me. Well I’ve spoken to her about talking down to me. She said she was sorry, but it’s started all over. I’ve never had this happen before. It’s hard to get transferred out. I have never been rude to her. She is in higher rank than I, but I am older. Some day I may lose it. You’d think this person would wise up.

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Transsexual–Co-workers Don’t Treat Me As A Person

Question:

I really enjoy your website and the information contained herein. So far, so great! And that said, I have a question I did not see covered here which I would like to ask.

I am a transsexual woman of color who works in an office where the people can talk freely amongst themselves. Yet will barely speak with me as a co-worker but not speak to me as a person. Some personally go out of their way NOT to speak to me. Even if I am there to work, I still do not receive the respect as a person I deserve as opposed to others who freely talk amongst themselves as professionals and persons–but will not ever do me that kind of courtesy. The managers who immediately work with me are great, but the rank-and-file leave an awful lot to be desired.

Some of these people, who have worked there with me since I got back in 2002, –I was already long out by then–barely speak to me, but for some recent hires get along as if they are old friends. Oh sure, I have few I can speak with, but that’s about it! And I KNOW I can get along with ANYBODY! I have participated in office functions and gatherings, and I try to get along professionally and socially, yet, this makes no difference. And when I try to speak or compliment someone, all I seem to get is a monosyllabic response–if that! I feel as if I am clearly an outsider who is not welcome as a whole person like others are, but rather as just a professional.

I have tried to take this up with the head manager there, but she seems indifferent to being able to do anything about it except to parrot the “We’re here to work and do a job professionally” party line. She listens, but is, in reality, neutral on this matter.

Often times, I admit, it has affected my work and my well-being. Lately, I am beginning to move past it to where it is no longer the problem it previously was. As a result, my work has improved and my concentration is better. However, I still see this around me daily, and I am at the point where I am on the verge of withdrawing from these people I work with. I am just shy of telling some of them where to go. Yes, I know I am there to work and that it is just a job; however, these are people here and I am a person too–and not just workers. What is your take on this matter, please?

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How Do I Decline Doing Back Rubs?

Question:

I’ve worked as a personal/executive assistant for years. At each of the five jobs that I held before my current position, the men that I supported would occasionally request back rubs (fully-clothed). I’m not drop dead gorgeous, I don’t wear suggestive clothing and I’ve never been flirtatious with any of my bosses or coworkers. Perhaps, because of this, I always thought of the requests as innocent and I always obliged (while scolding myself if I felt hesitant or uneasy).

Now that I work in a corporate environment, I’ve come to understand that back rubs are inappropriate — in any work setting. Also, I see that it was sexist for my employers to request back rubs from me when, most likely, they wouldn’t ask the same of a male assistant.

I’m very happy in my current position, but in case the issue ever comes up again, what is workplace etiquette when it comes to back rubs? Is there a polite way to decline without jeopardizing one’s job? And, in the case of a personal assistant can back rubs be a job requirement?

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