A reader writes:
I work at a university. There is a young man — a student worker — who works at the front desk of a different office at the university, but in the same building as me. A few weeks ago, he sent an email to my coworker asking for her cell number for an “emergency contact” database. She gave it to him, and since then has been receiving texts and phone calls (including one at 7 a.m. telling her to “have a lovely day”) from him. She has shrugged off his advances and he is now leaving her alone.
However, I just received the exact same email asking for my cell number for emergency purposes. I am tempted to write back saying I have already given my personal contact and emergency info to HR and to cc the HR manager into the message so she knows this man is asking for personal numbers on our work email.
Is this appropriate to do? I am a little annoyed and creeped out and I’m afraid he is going to keep doing this to every young woman in the office if it isn’t nipped in the bud now.
You could, but it’s a bit passive and the HR manager might not pick up on the full problem. For all she knows, he really might have been directed by his manager to compile an emergency contact list. (And in case anyone is wondering if he really might have been — I highly doubt it. That’s a project where you send one mass email, not individual ones over a period of weeks.)
Instead, be more direct. Forward the email to the HR manager with a note about what happened when your friend gave him her phone number for this list. Assume it’ll be taken care of after that.
For what it’s worth, I wish your friend had handled it more directly too, by telling him directly to stop the first time she got one of his texts or phone calls (and especially after that 7 a.m. one). True, she’s not under any obligation to educate this guy that his behavior is inappropriate, but there’s something to the “it takes a village” philosophy when it comes to addressing bad behavior.