Mocked About Leaving A Stain On A Chair

Question:

Is this what is referred to as “mobbing”? I had a very heavy menstrual period and accidentally made a spot on a chair at work. The chair was cleaned but it left a noticeable discoloration.

Initially the chair was placed in an open area with very frequent foot traffic, prior to it being cleaned.

Now, every opportunity they have, my coworkers point it out to me without actually saying anything. For example, they will turn on the large overhead light in the office that we never use, and the two males I work with will make rude noises.

Though they have never actually said anything I know they are referring to the chair. One day I came back from break and they had it setting out in plain view with every light in the office on it.

What can I do? This is so embarassing for me!ASSING FOR ME AND ITS LIKE I CAN’T GET AWAY FROM IT.

Signed,

Humiliated


Answer:

Dear Humiliated:

As you describe it, this sounds like a completely unacceptable situation about which you should complain to your supervisor, your manager, HR and others, immmediately. You need to get outraged about this, rather than tolerating it, if the circumstances are as you describe.

1. The chair should not have been exposed to the view of others, given the nature of the stain.

2. It should have either been cleaned correctly or replaced. It should not be used with that kind of stain visible on it.

3. No one should ever call attention to the stain in the way you describe. If rude noises are being made, write exactly what is being said or what noises are being made.

Write a memo that describes what has happened and say, “I want this behavior to stop immediately. Also, I would like to have the chair replaced or covered in a way so that the stain doesn’t show. I would like to talk to someone about this further so that we can get this situation changed immediately.”

You might use different words, but the idea should be the same. Be adamant that what is happening is not tolerable.

If that doesn’t help at the levels you send it, take it higher in the organization. Someone will see how offensive and distressful this is. Don’t be concerned about hurting someone’s feelings or creating animosity. If your coworkers are doing what you say, they deserve to be in trouble!

Having said all of that, make sure you are not doing anything inappropriate either. Don’t joke about it or try to act as though it doesn’t bother you. It would bother almost anyone!

The time to have taken strong action was when the chair was moved to a visible position. Next, you should have protested when they wanted to put it back into use with a stain. Every step of the way you have had a chance to say “Stop it!” So, it seems to me you have not reacted very strongly at all about this. There may be reasons for that, but I hope you will be more forceful about this and any similar situations in the future.

Apparently you and your coworkers don’t have a friendly relationship. Friends wouldn’t treat friends this way. Apparently your supervisor or manager is not involved in work at all. A good supervisor or manager would never approve this type of behavior. It’s very disheartening to think that could happen in this day and age! Document what you have written to us and take it to your manager, HR or as high as you need to go. But, don’t let the situation continue.

You ask if this is “mobbing”. It certainly could be considered that, I’m sure. However, I prefer to stick to the basics and say that it is rude, offensive, unproductive, discourteous behavior that should not go on in a workplace. Please do something about it soon! If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.