Can HR Ask Me This?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about personal sexual question:

If I have ever had sex with a co-worker? I am being investigated for this and have never fraternized with anyone. I work for a government entity.

Signed, Never

Dear Never:

HR is responsible for knowing what is going on that could impair the work of a workplace. When brought a complaint, Human Resources investigates. Can they ask if you have had sex with a co-worker? Apparently, HR asked and you don’t think they should have. Our site responds to questions pertaining to workplace communication with the exception of legal and medical matters. Your question implies there’s a legal answer to whether HR should or shouldn’t speak to you about sex with a coworker. There might be.

We humans make rules and sometimes laws on almost every subject. Your particular work organization might have policy regarding that kind of fraternization. Some do. The fact is that affairs and sometimes marriages are not uncommon among coworkers and/or those who supervise them. But since you declare you never fraternize with anyone, it’s unlikely that this investigation will amount to anything. For now, isn’t the most important thing you can do is to pledge your co-operation with the investigation; to learn what is alleged for when, where and with whom? Perhaps you won’t be told why? So you can review possible incidents that might have prompted such an investigation. Possibly you can think of nothing and will be left with this playing in your head. That can become an obsession which echoes and distracts you from what should be the focus of your job. You also might be tempted spill this worry to others with whom you work, friends and family.

My advice is to accept the fact that someone or something provoked this inquiry and then resolve to let it decay. Rather focus on what you have done and can to do to add value to your workplace; by thinking like an owner of ways you might cut wasted supplies, wasted time, wasted energy and wasted money. Also you might resolve in place of gossip to talk about how you might work more as a team to make others work more effective and easier. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. I predict that this frustrating inquiry will pass and that the days ahead will be free from worry if you focus on becoming a valued part of your department and workplace.

William Gorden