Any of these ever happen to you? A supervisor repeatedly rubs up against you or places a hand on your leg. A coworker jokes about watching porn and tells you you look like a porn star. A boss suggests that if you want a promotion, working hard isn't as important as being cooperative, letting loose and having fun. Which of these qualify as sexual harassment? Sometimes the line is fuzzy and you stay quiet. Other times it's obvious and you're forced to act. Nearly every woman has at least one story of sexual harassment in the workplace, whether small and insignificant or big enough to cause her to look for another job. What's yours?
- I worked for a contractor at an airport, and on my first day at work, another female employee pulled me aside to warn me about a manager at the airport who was known for pursuing relationships with women who worked at the airport and were of a specific race. Sure enough, he was very friendly and nice, but started to do things like pat my shoulder at meetings. I decided I was not going to let things get worse, so I waited until we were at a very well-attended meeting and, when he got that "pat the shoulder" look (it looks a lot like the "pat the pregnant tummy" look), I stepped way back, just as his hand came out to touch me, leaving him reaching out into blank space in front of all his colleagues. He never touched me again, but he did continue to bother other women at the airport, even joining the gym of one woman so he could bother her there. I learned later he'd been fired from an airline for harassment. No surprise!
- —Guest Nancy
Tried to help a friend
- A friend of mine told me that one of our managers was always hitting on her and making inappropriate comments. With the best of intentions, I reported this to our boss, who handled it very poorly: She called both parties into a meeting, and my friend was too uncomfortable to explain what had been going on, so ended up quitting. If I could do it over, I'd try to convince my friend to come forward herself and support her every step of the way.
- I used to have a job in which I wore a headset at work. My supervisor could listen in to what was going on, and occasionally would comment on my performance. At first it was completely professional, but over time he began to say things that were a little edgy. I kept my mouth shut, and it got worse with him saying graphic and explicit things. I thought I could ride it out, but I couldn't. After unsuccessfully trying to figure out a way to record what he was saying and not being able to, I finally blurted out that I was sick of his private conversations inside my head and told him I'd report it if he didn't stop immediately. He did, but acted rudely toward me from then on and I eventually quit.
- —Guest Amanda