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My boss asked me out for dinner and wanted me for dessert…

So who wants to talk about sex?  Apparently not Human Resources…

When I started at my current job, I had to sign an agreement that I would not claim sexual harassment.  They did not want to deal with the law suit.  Understandably, they ask that you talk to a manager if an incident occurs so it can be handled appropriately.  But that is awkward! Who wants to tell a manager that your co-worker felt up your butt as you passed their cubicle?

It is important to know how to avoid and eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace.  Since offices are becoming filled with attractive, young professionals such as yourself, the threat of sexual advances is likely.  This can be anywhere from an offensive joke to physical contact that makes you feel uncomfortable.

So…where does it start and how does it stop? 

Here are the three most common instigators that lead to sexual harassment:

  1. 1.      Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.   You might have a way with words when it comes to witty banter, but don’t cross the line if you are not ready for someone else to go there as well.  A funny exchange of jokes could turn into a creepy conversation pretty fast.  This goes for sexual/crude jokes, “sexy” emails, etc.
  2. 2.      Did you “asked for it?”  I know I am not supposed to say things like that, but come on.  I am gearing this towards the ladies!  I am not saying anyone should be sexually assaulted, but did you really think that overly tight skirt was appropriate to wear to work?  Leave that to Herman Cain’s secretary.
  3. You gave mixed signals out of a desire to be polite.  A really creepy guy asked me out at work the other day, and I told him “my boyfriend probably wouldn’t like that.” Now he keeps asking me if I have broken up with him yet.  Most people are too nice to reject the person, not wanting to hurt the other person’s feeling.  Instead of, “I don’t want to go out with you. Please don’t ask me again.” Instead, you say, “Oh, I would LOVE to go out with you, but I have plans this weekend. I’m so sorry.”  Well then, what happens next weekend?  Obviously, if you make excuses, your co-worker/supervisor is not going to take that as a rejection — at least, not until he’s asked you about 100 more times and you’ve given him the same excuse every time.  If you are single, just use the old reliable, “Thank you, but I don’t date people I work with.” It gets the point across without the personal rejection, but don’t run down the hall to court the attractive co-worker you’ve been googling over!


Some constructive guidance

OK, what should you do if you are being harassed at work? If you are comfortable with asking the person to stop harassing you or quit telling inappropriate jokes, do it.  The person might now even realize you were offended.  If it is more severe, review your company’s policy, and follow the reporting procedure. Even if some time has passed you should still report it and explain the reason for the delay. Cooperate with the company’s requests for information and try to keep the details of the investigation confidential. If you behaved in a way that might have given others the wrong impression, go ahead and admit that. If more inappropriate behavior occurs after your meeting with management, let them know about the new behavior. Do no wait until you feel like you have to quit.


Megan Frank


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This entry was posted on February 23, 2012 by .
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