What Can I Do to Prevent a Repeat of Problem Behavior By a Colleague Toward Younger Staff?

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors: What should I do to ensure my staff
is treated appropriately by someone
who has behaved inappropriately in the past?  


I have a male colleague who has placed several junior staff (15-20+ years younger; mostly but not entirely female) in uncomfortable situations over the years: getting drunk to the point that they have to take him home to his wife since he can’t stand up straight (injuring themselves accidentally in the process), calling female colleagues while drunk and then lying to his wife about who he’s talking to, getting drunk in front of clients and having colleagues need to “clean up” after (including both helping him as he throws up as well as dealing with the clients), and so on. read more

My Manager Told Me My Face is Ugly!

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about options for handling a rude and personal remark by a manager: 


I work in a restaurant/bar and most of my managers are men (I’m a young woman). They’re constantly telling me to smile and last night one of them said “you’re not cute… Your resting face is especially ugly”. Can I do anything about this?

Hello, thank you for your workplace question. You ask if you can do anything about the fact that your manager said your “resting face” is ugly. (What a rude thing to say!). There is nothing legally you can do about it. If there are higher level managers I think this rises to the level of complaining about rude behavior by someone who is supposed to be motivating you. If it is a corporation with an HR section, you would have the option to complain formally, if it is a small local establishment you may not have that option. So,  the work situation will dictate how far you can or want to take it as far as making an internal complaint. read more

Employer Employee Texting Day and Night

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about if it is legal for an employer and employee to be texting.

If an employee and employer were texting each other for 2 months day and night, is that a legal issue for the employer?

Signed, Legal Curious

Dear Legal Curious:

Our disclaimer suggests that we don’t answer legal question. Even a legal answer to your question might be “It depends.” An attorney could provide you an answer in light the context of the situation and size of the workplace. For example if the employer was married and his spouse made the affair cause for divorce, that could cost the employer dearly.Why do you ask? What is your position in this situation? How do you know the texting is day and night and is in fact an affair? If you are one of the parties doing the texting, you have a lot to think about should an affair of a superior and a subordinate sour. That could affect the reputation of the company if sexual harassment were charged. If you are an employee who has work dumped on her because of the affair, you resent that. If you are a stockholder or partner in the company, you too have worries because certainly the quality of product and/or surface can suffer resulting from the distraction of an affair of employer and employee. This is not to say all workplace affairs never bloom into meaningful relationships. read more

Not Promoted Due To Reprisal for a Harassment Complaint I Made in the Past

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about how to show that being passed over for promotion is reprisal for a harassment complaint made eight years ago.


Eight years ago I filed a sexual harassment complaint against my manager for making unwarranted physical contact with me and it was my word against his. The end result was that he was removed from the office and given the option to retire, being that he was eligible.

I have been with the company for 21 years and have been a model employee, never call in nor do I have any disciplinary action in my file. I have applied for many positions for the last eight years, only to be denied. I have detailed (acted in positions) in several departments, received a good report upon completion and then denied upon interviewing for upward mobility. Some departments I have detailed in more than once. read more

Disturbing Behavior By Co-Worker

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a co-worker who shows disturbing behavior:


I have feverishly searched your extensive archive looking for answers to this dilemma. Nothing quite answers this situation. I have just started working in a new job, about 8 months now. About 3 or 4 months in, a male coworker (please note that this coworker is older than I am), who I knew very little about, started talking to me. Being relatively new to the office, I looked at his behavior (very initially) as friendly. A helping hand so to speak. read more

Was This An Inappropriate Comment?

 Question: to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being accused of making an inappropriate comment.

At the end of a workday I was riding down in an elevator with a female coworker and a high level male manager (I am male). After the female coworker exited the elevator and as we continued down in the elevator, I remarked to the manager that that was a very appropriate color dress she was wearing today (It was Halloween and the coworker was wearing a bright orange dress). The manager replied back to me that that was a very inappropriate comment that I had just made. The remainder of the elevator ride was silent. I’m sensitive and aware of workplace issues regarding sexual harassment, but was my comment really inappropriate? read more

Overly-friendly Co-worker – Sexual or Not?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about sexual tone: By “friendly” I mean he touches younger female co-workers (including me) on the shoulder, he puts his arms around their shoulders while walking, he rubs their arms, holds them by the arm, asks for hugs or just spontaneously hugs, stands way too close when talking,

I looked through your archives but would appreciate more specific advice on this matter. I have a co-worker (he’s the IT guy) who has always been extremely friendly. By “friendly” I mean he touches younger female co-workers (including me) on the shoulder, he puts his arms around their shoulders while walking, he rubs their arms, holds them by the arm, asks for hugs or just spontaneously hugs, stands way too close when talking, comes up behind and grabs people by the shoulders or waist. Only when speaking with younger women, he speaks in a soft, moaning, almost baby-like voice (think Marilyn Monroe). He also dresses quite inappropriately. He bikes to work in a spandex body suit and will often come around and do his touching and rubbing in a very sweaty and out-of breath state. When he finally gets changed, he wears skin-tight athletic clothes or shirts that are unbuttoned to expose his chest. read more


Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about bully manager and discrimination: they constantly belittle me and talk down to me, and the manager just laughs with them.

I have been working in a new job for three weeks now. I don’t mind hard labor. The rule book lists things you are not supposed to do. I followed them, but the manager constantly belittles, talks down, and has even shoved me a few times. The employees themselves crack explicit jokes about me and tease me about my beliefs. Yet out of respect to the manager and the workers, I say nothing because they would cut me off. The manager happens to be friends with the other managers and the owner as well, so I have no other choice but to leave. read more

Boss Spreads Rumors About Me and a Coworker


My husband works in the same department as me. We also share the same groupleader. Our boss is the type of person who acts nice to your face then knifes you in the back. I am a very social person and certain job duties have me talking with various people on a shop floor in an open setting. I do chat with one male coworker who shares some common duties with me but that is all that there is to it. We have never talked about anything inappropriate, only small talk, and have never communicated with one another (or met with one another) outside the workplace. My groupleader and another friend of his have made embarrassing comments about this in front of other people while I was there and now he has also been planting seeds of doubt in my husband’s mind about what is going on. This has now spilled over into suspicion, fights and turmoil in my marriage. I have been considering consulting a lawyer on this one. I turned another coworker in for spreading lies to HR before and our HR department doesn’t really seem to take these things seriously. How should I proceed??? Thanks for your help! read more