my coworker watches porn in our shared office

This one is gross; stop reading right now if you’re squeamish. A reader writes:

I share an open office space with 2 guys. When I came back from FMLA in September, I discovered that one had picked up a new habit: watching porn while I was working 5 feet away from him. Long story short, he scrubs everything everyday and IT has never been able to catch him, so the sexual harassment is without proof. My boss’s solution: everyone’s desk now faces the wall and we have a new firewall.

Said coworker is cordial to everyone, except now when we are alone together in the office, he rubs his thighs and grunts and adjusts himself and I catch him blatantly staring at me throughout the day. It’s unnerving. I have not spoken with the boss about the new behavior because I don’t want to sound paranoid. Any advice?

It doesn’t matter that you can’t “prove” this. You need to report it — all of it, not just the porn-watching, but his behavior toward you as well — and you need to insist on being moved.

And frankly, if anyone is telling you that they can’t catch him, it’s BS. It doesn’t matter that he’s scrubbing his browser history at the end of the day; if I.T. actually wanted to address this, they could easily monitor his computer and Internet usage, browser cache cleaning or not. If his computer is on their network, they can know every keystroke he makes if they want to.

But that’s not your problem to worry about — your problem to worry about is getting moved into a different office, and you need to insist that that happen immediately. Go to your boss and HR, explain what’s happening, and say that you want to be moved, immediately. Refuse to spend a single day more being subjected to a coworker’s sexual behavior. And please don’t worry about sounding paranoid; the person who should be worried is your coworker, not you.

Go right now, before the next round of rubbing and grunting (!) begins.

{ 202 comments… read them below }

  1. Erin

    And I thought I had it bad when I shared an office with 3 chain smoking male coworkers…

    This one is the most horrifying story I’ve ever read on AAM! Hope everything works out for you, OP!

      1. twentymilehike

        It’s too bad we can’t make this guy and the aggressive farter share an office.

        This comment made my morning. Thank you.

      2. Anonymous

        Given the existence of Rule 34, there’s a good chance that this would be satisfactory for everyone involved.

    1. TheSnarkyB

      Agreed, worst story! Although… it’s a pretty close 4-way tie between this, the intentional farter, the prostitute coworker meeting her Johns over lunch, and the bitter party-thrower who wanted company funds. Some days, when I’m feeling to lazy to be professional (I’m a grad student, it’s an option), it’s stories like these that make me check AAM 3x/day anyway.

          1. LouG

            Wow, talk about an example of how this site has grown since 2009! You would probably need to shut the comments down if you posted this question today!

          2. twentymilehike

            the prostitute coworker meeting her Johns over lunch

            WOW. I’d be kinda not okay if someone was having sex in the company bathroom with their spouse … let alone a john.

            Was there ever an update on this one?!?!

      1. Emma

        Bitter party-thrower? This sounds like something out of The Office (the original British version). I have to know more…Can you link me?

  2. Jamie

    if I.T. actually wanted to address this, they could easily monitor his computer and Internet usage, browser cache cleaning or not. If his computer is on their network, they can know every keystroke he makes if they want to.

    This x 1000. They should have been monitoring him from the first complaint.

    And yes, move, now. It’s not your job to prove it, just report it. If your co-worker vomited all over your shared space you would refuse to work there and insist they find you a place to work which was less gross. Same principle.

  3. Victoria HR

    I .. uh .. ugh .. gross! I can’t even.

    If they won’t move you or monitor his porn usage, set up a video camera in plain sight on your desk. At least that should stop him from doing those nasty things around you.

      1. businesslady

        exactly–even if you subscribe to the belief that addiction is a disease, that doesn’t mean you’d tolerate an alcoholic showing up drunk at work or a compulsive gambler falling off on their mortgage/child-support payments (or whatever). & this is the same thing.

    1. Julie

      Having an addiction still doesn’t mean you can have access to your addiction in the office. Alcoholics aren’t given special dispensation to drink while on the clock; druggies can’t shoot up in the break room.

      He wants to watch porn at home? Have a great time! Don’t bring that habit into the office.

    2. Ornery PR

      Even if it’s a legit addiction, the workplace can still regulate it and punish the behavior. Alcolohics and drug addicts will still get fired for being inebriated at work.

  4. r

    I don’t understand your boss’s reasoning for switching the desks around so they face the wall. Doesn’t this make it easier for your colleague to watch his “programs” without detection? If the desks faced outward, you or your boss could see the images and there’s your proof!

    Definitely talk to your boss and explain what’s going on.

    1. Jubilance

      I assumed that desks facing the wall meant that the person’s face was towards the wall, therefore their monitor faced towards the open areas & everyone could see it…and therefore discourage looking at porn because of the risk of getting caught.

  5. Anon

    I get the sense that nobody at this “company” really cares about this. At every company I’ve ever worked at, they would have flagged this IMMEDIATELY and The Pervert would have been gone so fast it wouldn’t have been funny.

    Ask to move, and then start working on your resume, OP. Honestly. These types of things don’t happen at professional organizations run by professional people.

    If you thought hard about it, I bet a lot of other crazy things happen at this place in addition to this.

    1. Sasha

      That’s what I was thinking. I was bothered just as much that the boss’ “solution” was just to move desks around. That is pathetic and irresponsible.

    2. Katie

      Exactly. In almost any place of business, an allegation of watching porn at work would not be met with a “we can’t prove it” but with a “we’ll look into it” and the person being out of there within a matter of days.

      1. Jamie

        If it were me as soon as the first allegation came in if I was in a place without monitoring software or a firewall to generate reports (as it sounds like this place was) I’d have instantly had his manager call him into a meeting elsewhere while I commandeered his local machine.

        Monitoring is not just a way of proving stuff – it’s a deterrent. People are less likely to do this if they know it’s all being logged and can be pulled up upon request.

        1. Dorothy

          And poured a bottle of rubbing alcohol on the keyboard??
          We had to disinfect a co-worker’s computer and desk area after he was fired for some mysterious reason… we suspected similar activity to OP’s co-worker.

          1. Jamie

            No alcohol – It would have been a perfect toss into the garbage can from my latex gloved hand.

            Keyboards last forever and they send you a new one with every computer – I have at least 40 still in the Dell packaging…and any keyboard with suspect stickiness would absolutely be disposable to me.

    3. Jane Doe

      Exactly. Also, every place I’ve worked has had a computer/Internet/IT use policy that either expressly forbid watching porn (among other things), or included a sentence to the effect that the company has the right to a) monitor your computer use, and b) decide on a case-by-case basis whether you’ve engaged in inappropriate technology use.

      1. Jamie

        IT use policy

        Don’t use the IT. When we feel used we get disgruntled and no one wants that.

        Sorry – no more bad jokes for the rest of the week. I promise.

        But on a serious note, a well crafted policy is a beautiful thing (I’m quite proud of mine) and in addition to having people sign my official and professional policy (one copy with me, one in personnel file in HR) I tell everyone the same thing:

        Don’t hit any site you would be embarrassed to have pulled up in a meeting with me. Easy rule of thumb.

    4. ThatHRGirl

      Agreed. I feel like for some reason the Manager is covering for the employee, and implemented this half-ass solution for that reason.
      I would HOPE that if even a word of this had gotten to HR, the IT investigation or at the very least, tracking, would have been set in motion.
      Sad as it is, I agree, get your resume ready, OP. :(
      Either you have incompetent management, HR, or (worst case) both.

  6. Lizabeth

    Ewwwwwww :(

    I vote for getting out of that office!

    IF they won’t move you, consider using a spray bottle filled with water and squirt him every time he “misbehaves”. Works with dogs and cats!

  7. Chriama

    That is just so wrong! I know it’s been mentioned on other posts, but I recommend that you read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Not because I get the impression that you’re in any immediate danger, but because the behaviour described is so aggressively sexual towards you that the guy has to know he’s doing it, and you should be prepared “just in case”.

    Honestly though, a claim as serious as porn in the office should have been immediately and thoroughly investigated by IT right at the very beginning, and if ANY evidence was found he should have been immediately fired. Aside from the fact that it’s disgusting and inappropriate at work, pornography has so many legal implications that any company that got wind of it should be protecting themselves even if they don’t care about their employees.

    Anyway, tell someone and do it right away!!!

    1. Long Time Admin

      “That is just so wrong! I know it’s been mentioned on other posts, but I recommend that you read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Not because I get the impression that you’re in any immediate danger, but because the behaviour described is so aggressively sexual towards you that the guy has to know he’s doing it, and you should be prepared “just in case”. ”

      Plus, when you go to HR, you can take the book with you and show
      them IN WRITING that this is aggressive sexual behavior. They might not believe you otherwise.

      And yes, look for a new job with a better company.

      Good luck.

  8. Frances

    So…. what about the other person in this office? He isn’t bothered by this? I’d think even if a person wasn’t personally offended by porn they’d have a problem with one of their coworkers watching it in a shared office instead of working.

    This does remind me a bit of the farting coworker situation in that I wonder if it’s something cooked up by the coworker to try to drive OP out of the office — because who the hell thinks this is appropriate workplace behavior?

    1. SCW

      I’ve heard too many stories of people getting in trouble for viewing porn at work to think that every person viewing it is doing it to bother their coworkers.

      It makes me wonder, though–I feel guilty when I go to any non-work related internet sites–even to check the weather. I only come on here on my lunch break. Maybe I’m the only person who feels that way.

  9. AdAgencyChick

    Clearly management doesn’t want to deal with the problem and thinks that the easy way out is just making sure none of you can see his computer.

    Alison is right. This will not change unless you make it so that it’s harder for management NOT to address the situation than it is to address the situation. Report it to HR, and make sure it’s in terms of “this is creating a hostile work environment.” Hopefully that will make their lawyers perk up and tell them that it would be much easier to make this stop than to deal with a harassment lawsuit. (Even if you never intend to go through the trouble of suing them, they should think you might.)

    1. Kathryn

      I’m not a fan of jumping on the lawsuit bandwagon everytime someone hiccups and you don’t like it, but I have to imagine that if anyone would have a case, this OP might. If she notified management, and they so blatently are ignoring the problem and possibly endangering the OP and subjecting her to further sexual harrassement, I might be tempted to contact a lawyer.

    2. fposte

      And you know, this is one of the few times that I think the “hostile work environment” phrase is absolutely legally correct. “Dude regularly watching porn and wanking in the shared office” is pretty damn severe and pervasive. Plus: big enough for FMLA = big enough for Title VII. Step it up, employer.

      1. ThatHRGirl

        I completely agree with you that things like this SHOULD be considered “hostile work environment” and that it is obviously severe and pervasive, I’m just saying… female employees who were literally slapped in the face with a male coworker’s body part have lost their lawsuit before. So it’s never an open-and-shut case.
        But should the legal department be jumping all over this before OP/the situation progesses any further? Oh heck yes. DEFINITELY.

        1. fposte

          And they’ve also won for that happening. Sure, an EEOC complaint is not a guarantee, but it’s the recourse that’s offered. And its success doesn’t just depend on what happened, it’s what the employee did about it, what the company did about it, and whether the company is covered under Title VII.

    3. ThatHRGirl

      In terms of hostile work environment, I don’t yet think this case is extreme enough for that – based on precedents I have seen. I don’t know. Maybe AAM or Donna Bailman can comment further on that.
      For now, I think that in the least, the OP is being sexually harassed by the porn-watching, thigh-rubbing employee. She is not required by law to ask him to stop, so she hasn’t done anything wrong by not addressing it directly to him.
      If it was me (I couldn’t imagine if it really WAS me, this is that abhorrent… but trying to put myself in OP’s shoes)… I would go to HR and say, “Bob is sexually harassing me by doing the following. I think it’s obvious that this is an extreme case and is very black-and-white. I need to be moved out of that office IMMEDIATELY. How soon can my new work area be set up.”

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        If she reports it to the company and they put a stop to it, there won’t be any case; they’ll have handled it appropriately. If she reports it and they don’t stop it … yeah, she might not win a case (hard to say without knowing more details), but I bet with the right lawyer she could get a settlement before it went to trial. Of course, that’s not an ideal outcome — an ideal outcome would be reporting this and having it stopped.

        1. ThatHRGirl

          Yes, and that was my original thought – there’s nothing in the OP’s post (unless she has mentioned anything in the comments) to indicate that she’s reported this to anyone above her immediate Manager. Unfortunately her immediate manager hasn’t done much, so I would hope she’d bring it to the next level above him, or to HR. These are the types of things we WANT to know about if they’re occurring!!

      2. EB

        I am not a lawyer, but if I remover my sexual harassment training correctly, if the OP is in CA, under state law, the fact she reported this to the manger counts for purposes of CA state laws regarding this and the company can be held liable for the managers actions (the way the state employees explained this was the manager stands in for owners in this case). As a result in the larger companies I have worked for in the state, managers undergo special training because of liability.

        Federal law is different so the OP needs to read her handbook or look up who the designated person this hold be reported to, and make a written complaint.

        Complaining in writing, say in an email, should happen either way.

  10. Anonymous

    I found in most cases “men” who do these sorts of things in public want to intimidate you. It’s a power thing. When I worked as a student librarian while in University there was someone who loved to watch porn in the library.

    I found the best thing was to act cool and point it out…loudly. I.E …”do you have nothing BETTER to do with your time?” Or ” GEE Bob..do you find EHarmony too intimidating?”

    1. BW

      “Can’t get it at home?” ;-)

      Reminds me of an ex who attempted to insult me by saying something along the lines of how he didn’t really like me. He just used me for sex all those years. I thanked him and said I was flattered, and it was good to know I still “have it”. Stunned him into silence. :D

    2. Nyxalinth

      I wager he does find eHarmony too intimidating: it has real women, not just fantasy-driven images of women.

      This is seriously gross and wrong. WTF, employer? If nothing else, they should at least be on this because of possible damage from viruses and malware. Porn is riddled with it, mostly because the types who take pleasure is creating the viruses and malware know that porn is a great way to share the joy. I know because I have friends who know computers well and I have heard some stories that would make any IT person go gray.

    3. SCW

      I am a librarian, and I don’t think the porn watchers (who are really common) have anything to do with me. It seems most of them have no sense of where they are–which is true of most folks on the public computers–having long and loud conversations on their phones, yelling to their friends or kids, spreading out over three machines. People are just absorbed in what they are doing!

    4. Liz T

      Yeah–exhibitionists are counting on you feeling ashamed, and thus staying silent. Remind them that they’re the ones who should be ashamed.

  11. ChristineH

    Ahhh…a salacious post and funny comments to perk me up out of this NyQuil-induced fog!

    Oh I absolutely think management and perhaps even IT are shirking the issue. No one wants a sexual harassment suit on their hands. But that’s what it boils down to, so I definitely echo Alison’s advice.

    Good luck OP!

  12. Rob

    Management isn’t likely to do anything about this since they clearly failed to address the issue the first time around.

    It’s time to get your resume together and move on if you don’t want to be in this environment anymore.

    1. Anon

      I agree with you Rob. This is insane. Their initial reponse is so unlike what most normal companies would do, I even worry about her saying something again about this. She should, but…what will the response be? I don’t trust these people because they have already exhibited poor mgmt skills with this issue from jump.

      1. Rob

        I’m surprised Alison didn’t mention some form of that in her response, since the original response by management has basically been ‘so what?’ Unless there is more to this than the OP has mentioned, I don’t see any change coming – at least any change that the OP would like to see.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          From what I can tell from her letter, she’s only told her direct manager so far (who did try to do something — not nearly enough, of course, but it’s not “so what”). She needs to escalate this — to HR if she has an HR department. And she also hasn’t mentioned the worst of the behavior yet, which she needs to do immediately. And she needs to tell them clearly what she wants done — to be moved to a new office immediately. If she does all that and nothing happens, I’ll agree — but she needs to do that first.

  13. JoAnna

    At the very least, your manager could direct you to e-mail or IM when the “activity” is happening, at which point your manager could walk in and catch him in the act.

    AAM is absolutely right, however – the IT department can and should get any proof they need to get this guy fired immediately, and her advice is excellent as well.

    I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It’s disgusting.

  14. Z

    Am I the only one who is glad that AAM clarified that this guy must be scrubbing his *browser history*? When I read that he “scrubbed everything every day,” I was interpreting that as his needing to literally scrub his keyboard and desk down with Lysol. I was a) confused on why it was IT that would need to catch him at this and b) extra shocked that he hadn’t yet been fired.

      1. Ellie H.

        I wish we had got to hear them! Despite them being such groaners, I take a strange delight in Emily Yoffe’s frequent use of puns in her Dear Prudence column.

    1. ChristineH

      I was thinking something similar too, but quickly realized what the OP meant when they said “IT has never been able to catch him”.

        1. Jamie

          This is one IT who will never use a black light for forensics!

          Capped teeth and black lights…very bad combo…

    2. Nyxalinth

      I figured it meant browser history, but before my brain could even engage that thought, my dirty mind went in the, um, more visceral direction. I grossed myself out, and I’m hard to gross out!

  15. Soni

    I second the webcam/vidcam pointed right at his desk. Make it obvious. Or not, depending on if you’re more interested in just stopping him (and hoping another, non-punishable intimidation tactic doesn’t take it’s place) or just outright catching him and getting him shoved out the door asap.

  16. IT Person

    I would disagree with the idea that IT should be able to catch this or find proof – doing something as simple as tethering a cell phone to the computer and using Private Mode in the browser would render this behavior undetectable. I used a similar method when a previous company blocked the use of Facebook, then assigned me to maintain their Facebook page.

    As for keylogging and other monitoring options, in many situations (such as companies that deal with medical or financial information) it may be illegal for the company to implement that type of monitoring. Even if they could, those monitors can be overcome by using virtual keyboards and scrambling techniques.

    I am not trying to defend the employee’s behavior – it is absolutely inappropriate and opens the company to security threats as well as civil and potentially criminal liability. I am just saying that as the OP noted, it can be difficult to track and prove, and depending on the company’s policies it may not be possible for management to do anything without concrete proof.

      1. IT Person

        Just as one quick example, if capturing keystrokes would cause a credit card number and CVV to be stored in the same file that would violate PCI rules – not against the law per se but a contract violation. What can and can’t be recorded depends on the data and the jurisdiction where the data is being stored.

        1. fposte

          Oh, that’s interesting. From what I vaguely understand about PCI standards and who’s bound by them, wouldn’t you have to be a credit-card-using vendor mishandling consumer information for it to be a breach? Would it really be a breach of standards on internal computers not used for transactions? (Yes, I know very little about PCI.)

    1. Jamie

      Privacy mode in a browser doesn’t mask anything at the firewall level. If he’s using an actual anonymizer proxy that should have been caught immediately.

      I hate monitoring web usage logs but just the whiff of an anonymizer proxy and I’m all of a sudden very interested.

      Most firewalls have reporting functions. For enterprises which need more customizable reporting/monitoring there is a myriad of software available. (websense is great, if pricy – PRTG is great, too).

      FFS OpenDNS is free – why wasn’t this base minimum applied so they could pull logs? My head is shaking so hard I might hurt myself.

      Absolutely zero excuse for this – none. Besides – I’d bet my next three paychecks that his machine is infected. I’ve never seen one used for porn that wasn’t – pull the evidence from there.

      I am desperately hoping that this place doesn’t have an actual IT department and that this fell through the cracks because this was no one’s job and not that it was someone’s wheelhouse and s/he was asleep at the controls.

      Without sounding too judgy a decent IT would have leapt at the first hint of porn because of the huge freaking mass of danger it will unleash on an unprotected network. I’d have yanked the cat5 out of the wall myself before this guy would have time to make another keystroke.

      1. Anon

        I am imagining this place is a small business, not a lot of “processes” in place, probably no IT or IT that know how to do anything – and they are spending their time watching movies downloaded to the company’s server. OP needs to come back and give us more background on this joint and an update later. I bet money she will end up having to leave.

        1. fposte

          It can’t be that small if she was eligible for FMLA, though–has to be at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

      2. Julie

        I now feel the need to share my “Oh, my God, that’s porn!” story from one of my first office jobs. I was working as a subtitle editor, preparing subtitles for translation. One of the things we had to do was put in annotations so that foreign translators (for whom English was not their first language) could understand English idioms and slang.

        Now, as I got more experienced at the job, I learned about the wonderful resource that is Urban Dictionary, and the first time I encountered a whiff of slang (especially sexual slang) that I didn’t know, I’d Google, “[Term] Urban Dictionary” and have an answer within seconds.

        When I was about a week into the job, though, I hadn’t heard of Urban Dictionary yet, and I came across the term “MILF.” I’d never heard it before, had no idea what it meant, so I typed it into Google and clicked on the first link.

        And then I felt that I needed to wash my eyes out with soap. Maybe bleach. Definitely scouring pads. I clicked away from that thing as fast as humanly possible, and just hoped IT (who tracked all internet usage) would be understanding.

        I guess they were, because I never got reprimanded for it, and I was able to joke about it later, but WOW talk about embarrassing!

        1. Tracy Dee

          Something similar happened to me back when I was first introduced to the Internet. I wanted to find the webpage for Dick’s Sporting Goods so I Googled “Dicks”. Big Mistake.

          1. Elizabeth

            I’m a science teacher, and the incident that taught me never to do a Google image search when my laptop’s connected to the projector was when a kindergarten student brought in a skull she’d found. I was trying to figure out what animal it was from by Googling likely candidates, and determined it was a fox skull. So I could also show the students a picture of a live fox (to compare with-hair-muscle-and-ears to the skull) I also did a search just for “fox.” Even with Safe Search on, I got a lot of photos of Megan Fox in a bikini!

            1. fposte

              There was a Scandinavian-style brand of furniture I liked called “Swedish Blonde.” You can pretty much fill in the rest of the story yourselves.

              1. Dr. Speakeasy

                I had a student once who wanted to study how masculinity norms affects adolescent relationships. It reminded me of a cool study I’d seen using interviews with high school boys. I couldn’t remember the name of the study so I typed “Teen Boy Love” into Google.

                Whoops.

                1. Liz T

                  Remember the early days of the internet, when any search led you to porn? I remember looking up “sleep disorders” on Yahoo in 1995. Why hello, happy naked gentlemen!

                2. Natalie

                  @ Liz T, if you turn Safe Search off, any search will lead you to porn.

                  My friends and I have occasionally made a game out of it – guess which page the first porn result will be for seemingly innocuous phrases.

            2. Rana

              I had a colleague who was lecturing about Southeast Asia, and the institution of wet-nursing (women who do this for a living are called amahs, apparently). Unthinkingly, she told her studies to Google up “Asian wet nurse” instead of “amah.” You can imagine the results!

          2. Anonymous

            Mine was trying to show the blog Adulting to my boss. It’s a fun blog about how to be a responsible adult and apropos of something we were talking about. I learned this: If you take the word “blog” out of the URL, you get something veeeery different.

            Nothing like saying “Hey boss! Look at this and turning the porn-filled monitor toward them without realizing. Thank god she knew how completely horrified/mortified and not even remotely having intended that I was.

            1. Liz in a Library

              That one above happened to me. It’s still so painfully embarrassing that I feel I need to claim it.

        2. Ellie H.

          Your story reminds me of a really interesting article I read a long time ago by someone who worked as a translator, translating porn films (and other stuff, I think, but I recall the essay was mostly about that) about the complexities therein. I wish I could find it now, but, of course, I’m at work and don’t want to google it too assiduously :)

          I have always been really interested by not only translation but also subtitles (itself a form of translation), so this sounds like a cool job you had.

      3. MeganO

        Aaaand once again, Jamie, you are like my favorite person ever. Of all time.

        Also, OP, OH GOD! Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh so gross. I second what Alison and everyone says – they need to get you out of there immediately! So gross. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this – it’s just unbelievable.

  17. Anonymous

    Oh dear Lord, I need Lysol just THINKING about this. It’s been going on since SEPTEMBER?

    Get cell phone video of this…this…activity and then pick up everything and move, regardless of it’s ‘approved’ or not.

    Now I can’t unsee it. Disgusting.

    1. TheSnarkyB

      Don’t videotape him – the last thing you want is any sort of “counter-claim” situation. Twisted people twist things handily. I’d just go with the advice in the post or other comments… Anonymous, I don’t mean to shut you down, it’d just suck to have an update from this poster saying “I got a video of him doing it but it was ambiguous, didn’t help my situation, and then he tried to sue me for videotaping him without his permission.”
      w/ a pretty broken justice system, don’t take any chances

      1. Elizabeth West

        Yes, better off to report it through official company channels, using official policy. It’s strictly CYA here now. The last thing the OP wants to do is jeopardize any of her credibility with this.

  18. Mike C.

    Call the police the next time this happens. You’re not a consenting adult, and this sort of thing is a crime.

    1. Jamie

      Depends what he’s doing. What she’s describing is horrific and deliberate – but over his clothes and making noises? Plausible deniability all over the place – most police departments will have a very hard time doing anything with that without witnesses.

      Him: I wiped my hands on my pants, I guess, I don’t know what she’s talking about. I’m not aware of any noises I was making – I did have a burrito for lunch…but I really have no idea what she’s talking about officer.

      Management needs to handle this.

      1. Mike C.

        It’s pretty clear what he’s doing, and claiming that “it’s too difficult to prove” is silly. Without getting into the biological details, there’s going to be plenty of evidence of what happened.

        Look, if this guy were leering at folks in the subway or at the park, he’d be arrested. It’s no different in the workplace, and this sort of thing needs to be stopped now.

        1. fposte

          The police are a lot more interventionist in a public place than when somebody’s on private property with the consent of the owner. One of the common interventions is telling somebody to zip up and move along/get out rather than arresting somebody, but they’re not just going to tell the guy to get out of the office that he works in. And since he hasn’t exposed himself to anybody, it really is a lot grayer claim to make from a criminal standpoint, and I would doubt that it would make it to prosecution. So the OP’s question is whether it would have as much beneficial effect for to call the cops as it would negative effect. And right now I think it’s still something that she should push her managers on and document to cover herself better if she does need to take the matter outside.

  19. BW

    When I read that the guy scrubbed and cleaned everything so he couldn’t get caught, the first image to pop into my head was NOT him deleting the browser history and cache. That made the post 10 times grosser than it already is.

    1. Jamie

      I’m glad I’m IT – because the only thing I thought of was the browser cache. My innocence still intact – at least until you all spelled it out! :)

      1. Elizabeth

        See, I’m IT, too, and my mind went to sanitizer wipes. Maybe because I’ve had the misfortune of cleaning up after a porn addict (an addiction counselor, ironically) after he was fired.

  20. A Nonny Mouse

    I work in a small law firm, and a former partner used to call me and/or my coworker down to his office for various and sundry things, and when we’d get down there (a 30-second walk), he’d have tons of porn open on his computer. I mean pop-ups, pop-unders, videos, you name it, it was all open on both his monitors. After he KNEW he’d called us down and that we’d be there in a moment. It got to the point where my coworker and I would never let the other go down there alone.

    The man was also about 8.6 million years old, so it was even GROSSER because he is someone’s GRANDPA. He’d constantly have his grandkids in the office, and they’d be using his computer, and I was always scared for them that they would stumble into some of grandpa’s “activities.”

    There was nobody we could tell about this situation, either, because the man OWNED the company jointly with one other partner, who was very rarely even in town. Thankfully, he ended up selling his share and moving on to another firm, where, hopefully, his email is monitored more carefully… for his assistant’s sake, anyway.

    1. Jamie

      This isn’t porn related, but I was almost killed by someone who called me to his office once.

      I was summoned by a co-worker (most hated co-worker) and I said I would be right in…office was so near mine you could hear me hang up the phone and head next door…

      So I get there and he was in the process of “practicing his swing” and was swinging a baseball bat hard (softball season) and came so close to my head that he caught some of my hair and it whooshed around the bat.

      Absolutely had the timing been off by a split second or had I walked a little deeper into the office on my first step I’d have had a fractured skull or reconstructive surgery – depending on where he hit.

      If you call someone into your office you don’t need have a tea tray set or fluff the pillow, but ffs close the porn and put down the weapons. Basic office courtesy.

      1. A Nonny Mouse

        I’m pretty sure “Close the porn and put down the weapons” is going to be used at some point next week in my conversations…

        1. PuppyKat

          Yes, I agree—this will be my catch-phrase for the week! (Although I may customize it a bit for my industry.)

    2. EM

      My mom has a similar guy in her office, except he’d call her into his office to “look at something” and show her porn. After the second time this happened, she said, “Al, I’m only interested in looking at penises. Next time you look at penises, you can call me in to see them” he never did that again. :)

  21. Maire

    I don’t understand why looking at porn is so urgent he has to do it in the office. Why can’t he just wait until he gets home? No-one is that horny.

    1. Toni Stark ` Stark Enterprise

      Right or maybe he could wait until break/lunch and use his smart phone. Not condoning his entertainment choice but as an adult, he has other options. . I hate that he feels so empowered to do this at work. I guess he know he wont get in trouble.

    2. Natalie

      Given the other creepy ass behavior, I think it’s safe to assume the porn viewing isn’t strictly about sexual gratification for this guy.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Because people who do this in a place where they might get caught get off on the thrill. And clearly, Mr. Rubby Pants wants his office mate to see what he’s doing.

  22. Toni Stark ` Stark Enterprise

    Talk about having your back against the wall…

    I usually lurk but I had to chime in on this one. I second all of the advice and don’t forget to keep track of everything. Keep a little journal of his unprofessional behaviors, dates of the occurrences and your conversations with management as well as the outcomes. May seem unfair to have to do that but it will help in the long run. You don’t know how this is going to play out.

  23. T

    This happened before I started working, but at my old job (university’s athletic facility), we had a few computers in the main lobby/entrance area for patrons to use. There used to be the little old Asian man who repeatedly used the computers for porn and wanking!!! Every time my coworkers were instructed to call the university PD to get him kicked out, but he was so tiny you couldn’t see him behind the computer monitors, so my coworkers used to have to check the computers every shift to make sure he wasn’t there!!!!!

    1. Chriama

      As distressing as that probably would have been for me to experience, reading your story just made me laugh out loud. The entire situation is so bizarre… also, he kept coming back even after being repeatedly kicked out?? He’s got nerve. At least you never had to tolerate it and were also told to let the professionals deal with it instead of having to get involved yourself. (Seriously though, I’m just imagining this guy sneaking in… peering around the edge of the door, doing a front roll past the front desk to avoid your line of sight and popping up behind the computer, while the spy music from Get Smart plays in the background).

      1. T

        Haha, I’m glad you thought it was funny :) but seriously, I’m surprised that he kept coming back because it’s a university athletic facility …. not exactly the first choice public viewing locale??? My coworkers used to draw straws over who would go on the “porn police” walk. So glad it was before my time — getting paid $8 an hour is NOT enough to deal with stuff like that!

  24. Samantha Jane Bolin

    This reminds me of a horrific article I read yesterday about a prison guard in Iowa who filed complaints for years about the male inmates being allowed to watch violent porn, both in the television rooms and later in their cells. The two or three wardens to whom she reported essentially refused to do anything about it, other than discipline her for causing problems. In fact, they went so far as to tell the inmates that she was trying to have their movies revoked, so the inmates harassed her even more. And, they blamed her for her uniform being too attractive. What a bunch of jerks! It’s a terrible story and I have no idea how she made it through her shifts.

      1. Samantha Jane Bolin

        Maybe not porn, but some very graphic sexual movies. From the article I read, in one of them a woman was beaten, raped, hung upside down and skinned. Horrendous!

        1. Toni Stark ` Stark Enterprise

          Added to the fact that some men are in jail b/c of violent crimes, that sounds even worse than watching porn.

  25. Wubbie

    Only marginally connected to the OP, but kind of amusing:

    Years ago I worked as an admin asst for a large multi-national bank that had an internal travel department that was reached via an 888 number. Funny thing was, though, that same number dialed with an 800 area code was a phone sex line. Sometimes when I was distracted or multi-tasking I’d dial the 800 number by mistake.

    I was always terrified someone would review the phone logs and I’d get fired for having phone sex on my business line.

    1. Elizabeth

      It seems like this is a case where you’d have pretty plausible deniability – the 888 number really was the bank (provable) and I assume you hung up almost immediately when you called the wrong number! People who call phone sex lines on purpose don’t generally hang up in under a minute. :-)

    2. LPBB

      Heh. For years I worked in a call center that was one digit off of a phone sex #. We often would get huffy calls from customers who had misdialed and reached the phone sex place. The implication was always that somehow we had somehow routed them to that number for kicks and giggles.

  26. KarenT

    This is a side question, but are companies generally not using blocking software? ( I realize in the OPs case she needs much more intervention and help.) At my company we have blocking software. It’s annoying and actually interferes with my job, but I couldn’t access pornography or gambling sites at work.

    1. Jamie

      I use it – although my users know if it’s ever interfering with their job to let me know and I’ll tweak the settings. IT is supposed to help you work, not get in the way.

      But a word on filters – they won’t get everything. New sites are put up and old ones renamed all day every day and blacklists can only work so quickly. But they are a huge help both as a deterrent and because they still block a heck of a lot.

      1. IT Manager

        I am not a big fan of a technical solution for a management problem. If you require logs to monitor traffic then go right ahead. However if you have someone constantly falling foul of a blocking mechanism then your solution is either stopping them from doing their job OR they need to be “encouraged” to refocus on work using whatever disciple procedures you have in place. Purely a management problem at that point.

        I am talking about this as a separate issue not related to blocking activity that is actively harmful to your infrastructure (virus/malware/etc), which I do support.

        1. Jamie

          Absolutely. My goal is to protect the network first and foremost and whatever software I use is akin to throwing my body in front of anything that can hurt it.

          Because it’s my unpaid OT alone that cleans the mess.

          And I will not monitor for productivity. If managers want reports I’ll run them and they are expected to manage their people. If something slips by and infects the system – now I’m involved (no one wants that – least of all me.)

          Filters and monitoring (which is mostly an awesome deterrent – when people think you are watching them they behave better than if they think they have privacy) are just tools to protect the network – they don’t replace managing. Just like vaccinations and dressing warmly in cold weather can help protect kids – but there is a lot more to parenting than that.

    2. Anonymous

      My company doesn’t use it (at least not on the network I’m on – some other offices that are on different networks do have blocking software, but we will probably all be on the same network before too long). One of my old roles was actually to monitor content of the ads we publish on our website, which means I saw more porn (mostly just soft-core but a couple times things I really didn’t want to see) than I ever needed to. And I never got questions about it. That may have been because it was my job to review that stuff, but I really expected the majority of it to get caught (which meant people who actually processed the advertising orders also had to access those sites to review them) before it got to me.

      One of my coworkers that would help often had to send me sites to look at for her (even perfectly appropriate ones) because she was in an office with blocking software, and she had to request unblocking for each individual site, get her manager to approve it, and then wait for IT to review the request and make a decision. It was so much trouble and could take several days. If I wasn’t around, she would just wait until she got home and check it then.

      I’m really glad I have moved on from that role. You’d be surprised how many people would try to argue that a website for a strip club with rather risqué/graphic pictures all over it was perfectly appropriate to link to on a family-oriented website.

  27. Tiff

    I hope the situation works out for the best for the OP – AAM’s adice was great. I don’t think I could hold my composure in such a situation, and I’d probably say real loud, “What in the world are you DOING? Do you have a rash, why are you chafing your thighs together like that? Does it hurt?”

    1. Jamie

      Wait a minute – rubbing his thighs together? As in the left thigh and the right thigh rubbing against each other??

      Because I thought he was rubbing his thighs as you would wipe your hands on your pants if you washed your hands and saw there were no towels – he was just being lacivious about it.

      This is a whole ‘nother level of squick – seriously is this what she meant??

      (And “whole nother” while grammatically incorrect was a colloquialism chosen for emphasis.)

      1. Tiff

        I’m over here wheezing like Deputy Dawg, trying not to laugh too loud. I’m a country gal and “whole ‘nother” is just fine with me!

        I pictured him rubbing his thighs together and grunting…but either way I would ask VERY loudly if he needed to some Blue Star ointment for that rash, because it sure looks painful.

      2. ThatHRGirl

        I read it as him rubbing his hands on his thighs too, in a “caressing” manner. Ewwwww. I can’t even type that without a near-vomit experience.
        Side Note – I DEFINITELY want an update on this OP sooner rather than later!
        Other Side Note – I’ve been gone for a few months on Mat Leave, but now that I’m back to work I’m sure I’ll be frequenting here more! :)

  28. gabrielle

    Wow, this really started the “salacious office behavior” series off with a bang!

    I hope there isn’t worse to follow…

  29. Mints

    Since we’re sharing: A teacher at my high school was fired for looking at porn during lunch. The details are fuzzy, but apparently he was wanking it in his classroom, with the door closed (he thought it was locked), and a student walked in a question and then like ran to the office to tell everyone. It was all over the rumor mill within a day

  30. Creeped out

    Hi OP here. Thought you guys could use a little more background. There was just so much to this…

    I would like to apologize, I realized in my stress I left out some key info.
    First off, the first time this happened my boss was half way across the country for a family emergency. I calle her, she called HR, HR called IT. She also let my bosses boss know and next up the chain is the owner who was also informed. I was told to hang in there and act normal. I couldn’t stand to be in there alone with him, so I kept walking away for anything I could. I made the terrible mistake of explaining what was going on to a few people, I was obviously distraught, and avoiding my work room. In an office of 6 people, it gets noticed very quickly when something is up. Upon my bosses return, I was given a final written warning for workplace bullying by spreading false allegations and wasting company time. That is why I’m wondering if it will come off right if I bring it up. During this meeting, I was told that upper management wanted me fired for the way I ran my mouth. I know I was wrong, and I’m wondering if that makes anything I say from here on out questionable.

    Also, our IT guy is just that, one subcontracted IT guy who I don’t believe has dealt with this type of situation before. The first time he checked the guys computer he found absolutely no internet history. A few days later he used a program that shows everything visited, even during private browsing. HR’s issue with this was that nothing had date stamps and at the time all PCs in that office were always logged in and available. After the first complaint, the company held a meeting on Internet policy and we all signed letters. We were also told to start locking down every time we walked away. The second time I brought it up, IT found abdolutely noting, Internet related or not except for scrubbing software that was not installed previously. According to his usage history, he had not opened a file, created a file, accessed the server, used a web browser etc in over a year, per the boss, said in front of me and my two office mates. That was when the boss instructed everyone to turn desks so we all sat facing the wall.

    I hope that clears things up and again I sincerely apologize for not bringing up my blatant indiscretion sooner.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      1. Your I.T. is incompetent.

      2. Your boss has terrible judgment for not knowing that, and for not interpreting the utterly empty usage history as something that required more digging.

      3. You should not have talked to other people in your office about this, but that doesn’t in any way mean that you don’t still have a legitimate complaint that they’re obligated to take seriously.

      4. The original advice still applies — go talk to HR about what’s happening and insist on being moved. Be sure that you use the words “sexual harassment” when you talk to them, because it’s illegal for them to fire you for making a harassment complaint. In fact, even if they later determine that no harassment occurred, it’s STILL illegal to fire you for making a harassment complaint in good faith. So use those words.

      1. Natalie

        Although mentioning it to other co-workers wasn’t the wisest choice, I wonder if it could possibly be considered discussion of working conditions under the NLRA

      2. Creeped out

        So I have another question regarding this. I started job hunting when I received my warning.

        I was asked by a manager during interview what made me want to jump ship. She thought it was strange just coming back from maternity leave and living 5 min away from my current job that I would want to take one 45 min … I honestly didn’t know how to respond, so I kept saying that it was “just time for a change” I requested she not contact current employer unless I was a serious candidate for the job.

        How badly did I botch this interview? Is there a more tactful method of handling this type of situation?

        Thanks everyone for your help!

        1. Long Time Admin

          You didn’t botch that up, but next time say that there aren’t opportunities for advancement in the career path you’ve chosen. Or that your interests have changed more to whatever-it-is-they-do-at-New-Company.

          1. FreeThinkerTX

            I’m confused, and hope AAM will chime in. Why would it be bad for the OP to tell the truth when interviewing? i.e., when the interviewer asks, “Why do you want to leave your current position?” simply say, “I share an office with a man who surfs porn at work, and when I said something to management about it, their solution was for all of us to sit with our monitors against the wall, so that the screens faced outward into the office.” Any halfway-decent hiring manager would be appalled.

    2. fposte

      Wow, are they handling this badly.

      I don’t know whether there’s a way to salvage this workplace, OP. But at this point I might call my local field office for the EEOC and ask if this might fall under retaliation:

      (I know they’re giving a different reason, but I still think it would be worth inquiring.)

    3. Jamie

      Whatever you call your indiscretion, which is debatable, would be irrelevant to me. Sure discretion is the better part of valor and all, I guess I just don’t think the burden is on you to be particularly valiant. I do understand the logic as I would hate for someone to be the victim of false rumors, but based on what you said I think talking was human, if not the best course for you.

      The scrubbing program? He’d be done – I don’t need any more at my place (although thankfully it’s never been an issue). My policy specifically forbids installation of any software without my consent as well as any attempts to circumvent security measures may result in immediate termination.

      I know we’ve kinda joked about it today because its just so crazy, and its human nature to laugh at uncomfortable circumstances, but his brazenness is scary to me.

      I know it’s a rare luxury to be able to just walk a job, so please document everything. And I don’t want to be alarmist but don’t work late without others, be aware of your surroundings walking to your car, etc.

      Plenty of these guys are just creepy and that’s it – but on the off chance he’s seriously unhinged be careful.

      Now that I’m done issuing directives to a stranger on the internet I will say if this turns back where you’re the one blamed here I will lose a lot of faith in humanity. That this has been mishandled so badly by your management is sickening – they should be ashamed.

      1. Laura L

        Yeah, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that she shouldn’t have mentioned it to anyone. I have a couple close friends at work that I wouldn’t think twice about telling because it would help me feel less alone and reassure me that I’m not crazy.

    4. Elise

      I’m amused that they are upset with you for mentioning it to others. The first time (and every other time) that I saw he was watching porn at work, I would very loudly ask “Why are you watching porn at work instead of doing your job?”

      At minimum that would get him to quickly shut it off before a nosy co-worker comes over.

    5. Not So NewReader

      OP, this has been going on since September?
      How difficult is it to allow you to move your desk some place else? I cannot believe they have not moved you away from this man.

      And the blame the victim mentality. I have no clue how you are able to stand it, really.

      There are lots of things here I do not understand. How is this guy’s work? Is he getting ANYTHING done at all? Why weren’t you moved away from him on the very first complaint?

      I am sorry-but women tend to talk over problems with other people. So for you to go to other coworkers (your boss was not on site) to me is not that unreasonable. Especially, in light of the fact that this guy’s behavior could be construed as threatening. But, okay, they are not happy with how you handled things. You were panicked by a situation that you have never encountered before in the workplace. I don’t know of anyone who handles unfamiliar and upsetting situations perfectly. NO one. To use that against you is unconscionable. To use that “rational” to shirk their responsibility in this situation is cowardly, unethical and leaving them wide open to lawsuit. (This is the same type of thinking that blames the rape victim for being raped. I had hoped our society had progressed beyond this — but I guess not.)

      I do not have a strong background in networked computers. So I am not clear here- his computer shows that he did nothing on the computer all day long? Day after day? OR does it show that he never ventured out on the web for any reason?

      Does your work require you to use the internet? If yes, and he never goes out on the internet how can he possibly be working?
      On the other hand, if the computer does show computer use for internal work, how much time does it show he is on AND actively working with company files and programs? (Can’t really watch porn and be actively using work files at the same time.)

      How many women are in your work place? Do TPTB understand that they have sent a message to women in your company? Women are observing what happened to you, OP, and realizing that management cannot provide them with a safe work environment. Management does not know how. TPTB should be a shamed of themselves.

      It’s only words that we can offer you, but I hope you can find enough ideas and enough wording here in all these comments to bring to work with you and help you in some manner.

    6. EB

      This is clear cut retaliation. File an eeoc report right away. This is especially suspicious coming right after maternity leave.

      IANAL

    7. Anon

      They are using this whole “lack of discretion” crap to not do what they are supposed to do. People are so wack and weak when it comes to the uncomfortable stuff and then want to focus on something stupid. This is so upsetting. OP, I’m sorry and I hope this works out for you.

    8. Long Time Admin

      Pepper Spray. Show it to him and tell him you WILL use it the next time he says or does anything inappropriate.

      Unless you want to go all Dolly Parton on him, and tell him you’ll change him from a rooster to a hen with one shot.

    9. Katie

      The second time I brought it up, IT found abdolutely noting, Internet related or not except for scrubbing software that was not installed previously. According to his usage history, he had not opened a file, created a file, accessed the server, used a web browser etc in over a year, per the boss, said in front of me and my two office mates.

      That should have raised so many red flags!

      I just don’t understand this entire scenario. I can understand your boss being upset that you blabbed when you were told to act normal, but apart from that, threatening to fire you because they couldn’t find proof, when their IT person is clearly EXTREMELY supbar, is bordering on illegal behavior. Regardless, if the employee in question has installed some sort of scrubbing software and their usage history is coming up utterly blank, the software should be uninstalled and the employee should basically be monitored at all times. That is such incredibly suspicious behavior. I can’t help but wonder if someone isn’t tipping the guy off before IT comes in.

      Either way, you should find another job. This situation isn’t going to improve.

      1. Katie

        Although I just have to edit this to add: if someone in my office was under suspicion for watching porn at his desk and after being looked into once, installed scrubbing software, I’d say that’s enough evidence right there to give him the boot. If you don’t have anything to hide, you don’t hide it. I just think it’s ridiculous your workplace has allowed this to go on for so long.

  31. LG

    Wow. I am so glad when I had a sexual harassment issue I worked for a large, reputable company, and in the legal department at that.

    A supervisor in our IT department made a disgusting sexual proposition (involving both him and his wife) to me. It was on a Saturday, our own time, a friendly lunch. I blew it off.

    THEN, on the following Monday, he started lurking around my desk at odd times and showed up at 5:01 pm, while I was training a new employee, and said he was leaving and wanted to walk me out. I told I would be awhile. He said he’d wait. I told him not to. I called him on my way home hoping to quell his behavior. That did not work. Apparently before the proposition I had given him my AOL account name (I know, AOL, it was a while ago). He then started stalking me on AOL and stating he missed seeing me and asking if I missed him, etc. He then started leering at me in the office and becoming more hostile. This was several weeks later.

    When I had had enough and started to fear this was getting out of hand, I finally told one of the female attorneys who was a friend. She made me go to my boss immediately, another attorney. He advised me to march right to HR to address it. I figured since it started on our own time, off the worksite, the original incident didn’t warrant a report.

    When I went to HR to state that I had an issue with a male employee, she asked if it was X. I was surprised. Turns out she had just had an issue reported from another employee, who worked in HR, about this same guy. He had the audacity and stupidity to suggest to the HR employee that she, ummm, do something to him in the closet in the room they were in.

    How stupid and lascivious does one have to be? I know he attended sexual harassment training, because we were in the same class for managers.

    Long story short…HR jumped all over it and he was let go within a day or so. Nice to work for a professional organization when there are problem issues that arise.

    1. ThatHRGirl

      THIS. This is why I will only ever work in an HR department in a large company where there’s a legal department to partner with, where the business leaders LISTEN to the legal dept and HR partners because there’s too much at stake not to.

    2. A

      I have a question for an IT person,i made a horrible mistake when i sent an email from my company phone thinking it was my personal phone ,it included an image that was not precisely pg 13…this was like a year ago and nothing has happenened…it was a regretfull indiscretion,i still worry it might come up…anybody have a helpfull insight on this?

  32. FreeThinkerTX

    Haven’t read the comments yet, but wanted to say that something similar to this happened to me once. I shared a big cube with a guy who was hired away from the competition (we were in inside sales for an IBM distributor, and everyone worked in 2-person teams) and he did a thousand inappropriate things: Tell me each day what color/kind of underwear he had on – and try to show it to me; stand behind me and lean over my shoulder to point at something on my computer screen – while draping his chest & stomach on my back; reaching for things on my side of the cube desk – and “accidentally” brushing my chest; saying vile and disgusting things about our clients – while he had himself on mute on the phone with them, and making a “jerk off” motion with his hand; surfed porn on the only internet-enable computer we had in the whole office; tried to engage me in conversations comparing the bust sizes of all the women in the office, etc.

    To maintain my physical space, every morning I put stacks of books and binders in a semi-circle around me, so he couldn’t roll his chair next to mine (another favorite of his). When I complained to HR and our manager, I was told that they’d spent a ton of money recruiting “Craig” and that if I was a true professional, I’d figure out a way to work amicably with him; and that they didn’t want to hear any more whining from me.

    I was in my 20s, but not fresh off the turnip truck, so I immediately started a job search. The economy was rocking back then, so I got a new job (with better pay) within just a few weeks. My exit interview was the only one in company history attended by HR, my manager, the owner of the company… and a tape recorder. I have no idea what they wanted me to say or why they thought they needed to record it. When they asked why I was quitting, I just told them that I’d found a better opportunity with better pay and nicer working conditions.

    1. EM

      Go you! That’s the best way to handle exit interviews is to pretty much say nothing. My last boss was let’s say less than optimal, but he had dated the owner in college, so he was untouchable. I left the exit interview form completely blank when I left.

  33. Cassie

    Years ago, I needed to find a picture file on my boss’s computer (w/ his permission) so I ran a search for files w/ the extension .jpg. There was a bunch of inappropriate images on his computer (I can’t remember now, but some of the females in the pictures may have been teenagers?). It was disturbing. I didn’t say anything though – he’s the kind of scatterbrained person who clicks on links without caution so there’s a really good possibility he didn’t even know that kind of material was on his computer. But I kept wondering what if cops show up one day and arrest him for being involved in some child porn thing?!

    He upgraded computers soon thereafter. I haven’t done a search on it (at least, not a blanket one) so I don’t know if there’s anything like that on there. I hope not. Plus, our IT guy installed some adware-detection programs and stuff like that; hopefully the boss has gotten smarter about not clicking on any old link (he sometimes almost falls for those phishing emails from time to time, but thankfully he checks with me first before responding).

  34. Anonymous_J

    The blame-the-victim tack they’ve taken is very worrisome to me, OP. I definitely think you are not safe there and that getting out is your best and only option.

    Good luck to you. Please do update us!

    If this was me, I’d probably not have handled it as gracefully as you have. I find that kind of behavior intolerable!

    1. ARS

      I definitely want an update from this poster. Gross, gross, gross. The coworker’s behavior, the company’s response, the whole thing.

  35. Cimorene

    The fact that they gave you a final warning for “spreading false allegations” is crazy, when it’s clear that the allegations were not, in fact, false. They are trying to protect him (themselves?) and are going to use every possible thing they can do to get rid of you. Prepare yourself for this possibility. And document EVERYTHING, and keep a hard copy of this document away from your workplace.

    The fact that they told you to keep acting normally while this man was in the middle of harassing you is inconceivable. Your reaction–to leave your office and tell people–wasn’t unwise. The guy is unhinged, and if I remember my Gavin de Becker correctly, you were probably freaked out and communicating with your coworkers because you were afraid–and rightly so.

    His behavior has escalated. At first, it was watching porn. Then, it was touching himself in front of you. What’s next? Flashing, probably, and then assault. This is how sexual assault works. Study after study after study shows that men who engage in “low-level” sexual harassment/sexual predatory behavior (flashing, exhibitionism, etc) escalate into more physically violent behavior if left unchecked. Your safety and wellbeing trump this man’s right to not have his harassment aired in public, and they also trump your company’s right to not have your coworkers know that he was harassing you. I would understand if they wanted it kept quiet while they escorted him out of the office while they checked the computer, but to leave you in the same room with him? That’s just flipping insane.

    Who are these people who think that this behavior is acceptable? I mean, not just the creeper–he’s obviously ill or something—but the people who allow his horrible behavior to go unchecked?

    I mean, honestly. I’ve had a number of recent discussions about stay-at-home-moms and the relative infrequency of stay-at-home-dads, and the wage gap, and the power gap, when it comes to gender. Then I read stuff like this, and read about the reactions of the management to blatant and obvious harassment, and the inexplicable decision to give the victim of harassment a final warning while ignoring all the evidence about the harasser’s behavior, and it’s like–gee, I wonder why women are more likely to give up their careers than men?! Could it be because we so frequently have to deal with this kind of terrible work environment, this kind of hostility from the creepers and the people defending the creepers?!

  36. LSomeone

    Boy, oh boy, I really wish I could shove this page in front of my boss’s eyes.

    The OWNER is backing the pervert. The pervert is the HR department.

Comments are closed.