My Experience With Sexual Harassment in the Workplace.

Unfortunately, I did wait a long time before writing this, so I won't remember as many details as I did a year ago, when it happened. I'm prepared for some denial and negativity and claims of "you were totally asking for it!" But maybe some of you will actually get something out of my experience. This is how the harassment started, how it continued, and exactly how it stopped.

Last year, I picked up a second job waiting tables for extra cash. All of my coworkers seemed very friendly and welcoming, so my shy self-warmed up to them fairly quickly. I remember meeting this male waiter. He was early to mid-40s, very strange and scrappy looking, for lack of a better word. But he was fun to talk to. He had somewhat of a "theatrical" personality since he was a performer back in the day, and I'm a naturally giggly person, so it seemed like a natural pairing. I didn't always find his jokes funny, but I laughed anyway because that's just kind of what I do. One night, he asked for my phone number and I gave it to him. This may have been me being naive, but I honestly thought he was just being a friendly coworker. He's so much older, he couldn't possibly be romantically interested in an awkward 24-year-old girl. That night, I got a text from him:

Want to come cuddle ;)

I politely, but clearly, said no thanks, I don't see you that way. And honestly, I thought that would be the end of it. Because why wouldn't it?

The next shift I worked with him, he confronted me. Constantly. Literally followed me around my entire Friday night shift asking "Why? Why don't I do it for you? Am I ugly?" I kept brushing him off, politely saying that I'm trying to work and we don't need to talk about that. He didn't stop pestering me. Finally, I told him half of the truth. I was trying to be gentle, as inappropriate as he was being. So instead of telling him that I found his personality unpleasant (and wasn't attracted to him physically), I told him that there was an age difference, and that I also was not dating anybody at the moment because I'd just had a serious breakup (in retrospect, now that I know how things would escalate, I wish I had been more blunt with him. It's just in my nature to try to spare their feelings). Well, how did he respond to that? He said "age difference, huh? We can work around that." And then I snapped slightly. I said "No, no, no! You do NOT get to decide whether my reasons are good enough for you!" He mumbled something like, "Yes I can, because I'm a human with opinions," and left.

Over the next several months, he became increasingly awful to work with. He would try to flirt with me, and at first, I would clearly let him know that it was unwanted. Either by turning away, ignoring him, or actually firmly saying "don't do that." I quickly discovered that doing this made him angry. If I let him know, in any way, that his advances were not being enjoyed, he turned into a bully. Saying rude and cruel remarks at me through the entire shift. I'm a sensitive person and he seemed to know exactly where to hit me. So I decided that work would be more bearable if I just tolerated his inappropriate remarks.

This is the point, looking back, where I should have reported him. At the time, I rationalized it by saying

"I seem to be the only one who's bothered. He says things to the other girls too and they don't seem offended. I don't want to be that stick in the mud who can't take a joke."

So I let it continue. Then it gradually got worse. He started saying gross things, about what he'd like to do to me, or have me do to him. He'd touch me (nowhere "sexual" really; usually the elbow or something) and moan in pleasure while he did it. On multiple occasions, this would happen:

Him: "Can I nibble on you?"

Me: "No."

Him: *bites my arm anyway*

Me: "What the hell?! Stop!"

Him: "You liked it."

Again, I tolerated it sometimes, in favor of keeping the "peace" at work. But often, I did tell him, in no uncertain terms, to stop or please don't. He still turned nasty if I did that, but sometimes it was worth it. The fact that I felt the need to play along with his sick game infuriated me, and I couldn't stand to give him the satisfaction of my pretend compliance. Every now and then, he'd smile at me and say,

You'll say yes to me someday.

Then, the final straw. Valentine's Day. Everybody was required to work because we get so busy that day. The whole shift, he was being more pushy than normal. The remarks, the touching - he was clearly in a more amorous mood than usual.

I was in the back, boxing up my table's leftovers. He shows up. Gets behind me. Grabs my ponytail. I say, "Um, can I help you?"

And he says, "ssh." And proceeds to hump me from behind while holding my hair.

I froze. I was too shocked, too embarrassed, too panicked. I wasn't prepared for something like that. I didn't know what to do. I said something to the effect of "Are you done now?" and hurried out.

That's when another male coworker stepped in. He said, "Why do you let him do that? Why don't you tell him to stop?" I just helplessly said, "I tried that. It only makes it worse." He was furious. He said "I'll go say something to him." I quickly said "No don't do that. Then you two are just going to fight." They were both very hotheaded, confrontational men, and I didn't want an actual fist fight to break out. So he said, "Then I'll tell a manager tonight." I agreed to that.

The next shift I worked, my manager pulled me into the office and told me that coworker #2 had said something to him. We talked for a long time about what coworker #1 had been doing, for how long, and how he reacted whenever he'd been told to stop. Manager said that he would talk to coworker #1 that night (without using my name) and basically, how he took it would decide if he still had a job or not. I later learned that he had gotten defensive and angry - claimed that everyone was out to get him - but they did not fire him yet.

The following shift I worked, the general manager pulled me into the office. He had the employee handbook opened to the section about sexual harassment, and he asked me to tell him which parts of it were done to me. There were two sections, each with multiple subsections. The first section suggested that coworker #1 was an authority and was using it to intimidate me into submitting. So that wasn't it. The second section covered everything else, from remarks to touches to name calling to anything you could think of. I told the manager,

It's section 2. But, like, all of it.

We talked for a while. He tried to get details out of me, but I was too embarrassed to tell about the Valentine's Day incident. So after some pressing, I told him about the biting. I still clearly remember seeing my manager's face change. His eyes dimmed, his face got very serious, and he repeated it to confirm: "Bites you." I said yes. He scribbled some notes on a paper and said he's going to take care of this. As he was about to let me out of the office, I suddenly confessed that this felt awkward and I'm sorry. He stopped me and firmly said that I have no reason to feel embarrassed and he's sorry that I've been dealing with it and he didn't know.

That day, he called my coworker to let him know he'd been fired. And the next day I worked, he pulled me into his office. He said he knows how I am and he wanted to make sure that I didn't feel guilty about this guy losing his job. I told him, "At first I did, but then I remembered the kind of worker he was." Honestly, apart from the months of harassment, he really wasn't a good coworker in any sense of the word. He was hot-tempered, complained constantly, wasn't a team player, and was rude to guests. I knew, from the bottom of my heart, that the restaurant wouldn't miss him.

Work was infinitely more tolerable after that. It was such a big difference that I can't believe I didn't report him sooner. I was lucky to receive the support of my remaining coworkers. Nobody blamed me for him being gone. However to my surprise, one guy - who is actually a really nice guy - did say to me, "I know [coworker #1] sometimes went too far, but he really is a good guy." I kindly said, "Good guys stop when you tell them to."

So that was my experience. Yes I know, I was too gentle and let it continue for far too long. It's something I always thought I'd be able to take control of if it happened to me. I've had girls tell me that if their coworker did these things to them, they would go crazy and physically hurt him. It's easy to say what you would do in this situation until you find yourself actually in it. But I learned a lot, and I feel more prepared to deal with this in the future if I have to. Hopefully, my perspective will help others out there too, so maybe they won't have to go through what I did.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • When he started grabbing you, that was when he definitely crossed the line. The bullying wasn't cool either. I've had to report coworkers too. Men, oddly enough. One guy was constantly asking us in the back room about our sisters. He also liked to accuse us of sleeping with animals, for some strange reason. I seemed to be the target of this more often than most. He tried to get everyone in on the act too. It got to the point that even the special needs kid that works with us was making sheep noises, and didn't even understand what the context of it was.

    When it got to the point that I couldn't help but fantasize launching a 1 kt nuke at my coworkers, I knew it was time to say something to management.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • It's happened to me twice in my life, and the first time, I didn't even realize it. I was working for Walmart as a seasonal temp in 2008.

    I was in furniture, and the guys in receiving (where they unload the trucks) are basically on call during their shifts to wait for trucks as they come in, are also required to assist the furniture associates with any heavy lifting. There was one crew leader in receiving who must have thought I was making excuses to talk to him.

    One day at lunch, he walked up to me and asked me very bluntly if I would be interested in having sex with him. Just like that, no innuendo, to pretense or date offers, just D. T. F. I'd NEVER have thought that any guy would actually do this, especially when we'd never actually spoken, other than asking for his team to move a pallet for me.

    Coincidentally, my crush in electronics had literally just asked me to be his official girlfriend not even half an hour before this incident. My boyfriend had just walked away when this creepy co-worker I knew nothing about, asked me to be his booty call!

    I told him that I had a boyfriend, and he said "Well, if you change your mind..." and walked away. From that day forward, any time I asked his team for help, he would intervene and tell them that they had duties elsewhere. I told my boyfriend about this, and he realized what was going on. I reported him, and after that he was behaving again.

    Several months later I was shopping there, and another former co-worker from another job, a girl who had actually tried stealing my ex, causing us to break up, came up to me and told me that she heard the creepy guy from receiving talking about me to co-workers, as if he'd had lots of kinky sex with me, and she had recorded it! She actually took this to my former manager and he was fired. That was her way of apologizing to me for the drama she's caused with my ex.

    Two weeks ago, a driver that I'm paired with on Fridays at my current job who is twice my age, put his arm around me, cupping side boob, as he told a lady I barely know, that he's been wanting to "fool around with me" for a long time, then kissed me on the neck. I pulled away from him and went to get our bus ready. He spent the ride talking about his wife being out of town, and a passenger who once fell out of her unbuttoned top when he hit the brakes too hard, making sexual comments about another female co-worker, then he actually caught our rear bumper on a tree... clearly he was distracted. Reported, and now behaving.

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What Guys Said 19

  • Sorry it happened, sorry it took you so long to deal with it too. It's a failing in the way you've been treated and the society you were raised in, to think that you couldn't be more vocal speaking out against this sort of shit. I think your manager was a good guy for dealing with it the way he did, and your co-worker was a good guy for letting you dictate how he reacted to it.

    It's hard for men, as problem solvers some times, to listen to a woman talk about the abuse they are suffering and just realise that the woman wants to be believed. She doesn't necessarily want you to white knight it up in the abusers face and fix the situation with violence or threats. She just wants to know she is believed.

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  • GaG is just a weird place. It is the only place besides yahoo where women post stories of sexual harassment and get ridiculed.

    That is just some weird stuff.

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    • Yeah people can be pretty darn half-witted. I notice there are a lot of butthurt men here who are very quick to accuse someone of Being a feminist too.

  • Some people just aren't well socialized, they do not understand limits or boundaries and it results in the kind of unfortunate behaviour that you're talking about. I'm sorry that happened to you, no one should have to put up with that kind of harassment.

    I do however think that women need to be faster to escallate this kind of thing. I personally think that one stern warning should be enough, tell the person straight up and clearly that their attention isn't wanted and you expect it to stop. If they continue a 2nd time then escallate it to your line manager/boss or whoever is in charge of your employment in the work place, and they will take the appropriate action to deal with it.

    This goes for outside of work as well, people who are pests like this, who are not well socialized, they don't have the developmental skills to learn this stuff as adults, it's too late. They need an authority to step in and deal with the situation, its sad that's the case but it's just life I'm afraid. Don't be scared to ask people for help in these situations, whether male or female.

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  • Shocking story and you are right - More people should report things once you feel uncomfortable, a good management structure or HR department will hopefully sort it out fairly.

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  • I defenintly needs to be stopped espicially the double standard where it's ok for women to sexually harrass men in the workplace. The media reinforces this such as this advertisement
    https://youtu.be/Z6Sre-wpGHE

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    • Yes that advertisement was wildly objectifying, but I'm not quite sure it is dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace (leering certainly can be considered harassment, but the women didn't actually say anything to the man or touch him). I agree though, harassment towards either sex is not okay.

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    • So basically your saying that men's experiences don't matter.

    • 😑 Done with you. I can't help you if you can't read.

  • Glad you were able to get this douche out of your life. You probably should be more careful about who you give your number to; either someone you might actually be interested in, or someone who has a legitimate use for it for non-dating purposes, such as someone who is on a sports team with you, or carpools with you or juggles shifts with yours. Although with this guy it sounds like refusing to give your number probably wouldn't have been enough to put him off.

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  • sorry you had to experience that. So sad that #1 couldn't take the hint. Or worse that he felt you would eventually give in. I hope he leaves you alone now even after his lost his job.

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  • My advice: give him a swift kick in the balls and his face will turn into that (pic added)

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    • Lol well he's gone now, so I don't have to worry about him anymore. But even if I was still in this situation, I don't think reacting violently would have been the best call. At best, I probably would lose my job. At worst, I'd probably lose my job AND get attacked back by the guy.

  • Interesting

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  • That is clearly harassment. This can happen to any man or women and they shouldn't take it lightly. Some people are really f****g annoying.

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  • Yea guys can be dicks. You can always file a dispute with the attorney general if you let your manager know and they do not do anything.

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  • Do women harrass men in the work place too?

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    • Really? Is that all you took from my story? If you read something like this and your first reaction is to get defensive and say "BUT WOMEN!!" then maybe you're part of the problem.

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    • Sexual harassment is nowhere near the same as simply showing interest. I recommend not confusing the two.

      Also, shyness can be worked around, but that's another topic for another day.

    • I guess you are right, i'm sorry that you were harrassed, i would never do that because i'm a sensitive and submissive guy

  • After Harvey Wienstien , all the story's are now coming out. Funny how that generates

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  • You let him hump you? Jesus Christ I would have broken his dick off. Fucking pervy old bastard.

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    • A lot of people told me that they would have reacted violently if it was them. Truth is, you don't truly know what you would do until you find yourself in that situation. Looking back, I should have responded with more rage, but I do think that fighting him would have possibly cost me my job.

    • I know exactly what I would do if some old bastard grabbed my ponytail and tried to hump me at work. Kick his ass, that's literally the most unprofessional thing someone could do at work

  • Thank you

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  • It would be much less hassle if girls would just put out when they are asked.

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    • Yeah life would be a lot easier if people would just hand me money when I asked. Sucks that people have control over their own money and bodies.

    • Yep. We are in agreement.

  • I told people that there were women who came up and hugged me without my permission and they told me to man up. I hate this world.

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  • Sounds like a huge sob story. I get harassed everyday at work.

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    • Really? You get aggressively hit on, bullied, and touched inappropriately every day? You might wanna say something to your boss.

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    • Yawn. . . then why are you responding to her? You don't care, right?

    • Yeah and you're an anon, keep trolling mofo

  • That was an interesting story. That guy is just a horny jerk and you probably could've taken him to court where then he'll be in debt for the rest of his life.

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What Girls Said 9

  • Your article made me sad because you kept trying to bite your tongue and keep the peace. When someone is acting out of line, you always have to stand up for yourself. Never just brush it off because abusive people keep doing what they do if they think they can get away with it. Also getting angry at a man because he keeps bothering you sexually will not cost you your job. Everyone with half a brain knows what is going on.

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  • I'm sorry this happened to you. Hopefully you feel more comfortable in the future telling someone if it happens again.

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  • You article had me so engrossed. I'm so sorry you went through that, so glad that bozo got fired, hopefully he's got a big fat "Dude has been identified a sexual offender" in his resume. And I love your response to that "really nice" guy; stay confident beautiful.

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  • This has never happened to me, but I feel awful for you.

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  • Thanks for sharing your story. The dude sounds like a classic jerk. I am glad you were able to get him fired. It was very brave of you to say something to your supervisor, and it's great that they actually listened to you and fired the dude.
    <3

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  • Hmm i get direct. Like go fuck themselves.

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  • It's not on. Their balls need to be castrated.

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  • that's bad

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  • Men think I'm crazy when I say that I think women need to be more assertive, and in situations like this, aggressive.
    That guy was clearly the one in the wrong and he's a jerk to the max, but I can imagine I would have been a jerk right back to him to make him knock it off. Men like this need to know you are NOT to be trifled with.

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