A woman received a series of unwanted and inappropriate messages from a coworker, leading to a dilemma and feelings of harassment and unprofessionalism.
The coworker, previously perceived as friendly but nothing more crossed a line during the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. At 3 a.m. he initiated a text conversation, suggesting the woman come over for some “fun” and claiming he’d been sensing feelings from her. However, she was well aware this wasn’t the case, as she was a lesbian.
The Naked Selfie
To exacerbate the situation, the co-worker included an inappropriate selfie, an action that left the woman feeling uncomfortable. Upon receiving these messages while she was out with friends, the woman decided that addressing the issue could wait until Monday.
The woman strictly adhered to a personal rule: no engagement with work-related matters outside of the standard 9-5 workweek, and she keeps her personal life entirely separate from work. Considering this coworker a “workday problem,” the woman opted to disregard his messages.
Soon after, the co-worker proceeded to send several additional messages, starting with an apology for his drunken state and then attempting to reiterate his feelings.
The Work Email Response
When Monday arrived, the woman felt it was time to respond. She sent a work e-mail, writing: “Hi coworker – I’m writing to follow up on your messages from the prior several days (see attached). Please only contact me through work channels during regular business hours, I do not use my personal number with colleagues.”
In the e-mail, the woman also addressed the pressing issue of the inappropriate messages sent by the co-worker and requested that he only contact her regarding work-related matters. Although she decided not to involve HR, the woman attached a copy of the co-worker’s inappropriate messages to her e-mail to him.
His Angry Response
The co-worker’s reaction was far from understanding. According to the woman, “he got really mad, and he texted me back saying I had crossed a line attaching his picture to a work email, asking whether I was trying to get him fired?” The woman remained composed and referred to her earlier email. She once again reminded him to only contact her through work email, and only for discussions concerning work.
Confrontation At Her Desk
The co-worker later approached the woman at her desk, and she immediately inquired if it was a work-related matter. Upon his confirmation, she redirected him to schedule a formal meeting through the calendar, complete with a briefing on the topic.
Reflecting on her response, the woman wondered if she had been too harsh. However, considering her past experiences with similar situations, she felt her patience had worn thin. Ultimately, the woman’s objective was to establish a precedent: no engagement outside of work hours or work accounts, and certainly no inappropriate communications.
The Internet Responded
After the woman turned to the internet for advice, one commenter stated “You played that exactly right. That said if he doesn’t cool off immediately or continues to try and harass you, forward to HR and your manager and ask for them to intervene. You are not obligated to respond positively to sexual harassment.”
Blunt Advice From Another Commenter
In contrast to the previous commenter who took a more forgiving “second chance” approach, other commenters offered far more blunt and urgent advice. One such commenter stated, “Go to HR and forward those messages and texts now”.
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