my coworker is covertly taking photos of me and mocking my appearance on Facebook

A reader writes:

About a month after I started a new job, my boss informed me that a coworker had taken photos of me my first two days on the job and posted them to Facebook and had made very nasty comments about me and my physical appearance. And he self-admits in the Facebook posts that he had to be “sneaky” about how he captured the images. I have dwarfism, and stand 4’4″ tall (but that seems like it shouldn’t matter in this story). When a fellow coworker had notified my boss about the photos, she went straight to HR about it to report him for harassment and bullying.

HR then told my boss she could not tell me about the images, as she would then be causing a hostile work environment for me. She wasn’t happy with that response, but respected their orders. But, she also wasn’t going to let the issue go. She wanted them to take some sort of disciplinary action against the guy who took the photos. Eventually HR said that she could tell me about the photos, but she could not do so as a representative of our workplace, only as a friend, on her own time.

So, that’s what she did. I then filed my own complaint, looking at the workplace harassment policy and defining areas under which I felt this action qualified as harassment. I met with the office that handles such claims, and they basically said they couldn’t do anything about it. That by my boss telling me about the situation, she was the one creating a hostile work environment. If she hadn’t told me, apparently I would never have been affected by this. I responded by suggesting that other coworkers who I have to work with now have to deal with this as well. I was told that the guy who took the photos was talked to about this situation. But for privacy reasons that’s all they could tell me. Also, since this happened on Facebook, and not in a physical space (even though I was at work, in my office, and he was at work, in a company building on company time) that company policy didn’t cover what happened on social media. And that was the end of that situation.

It is now two years later, and in that time this guy has moved to another part of the company and works in another building. But just last week I saw him again, and walked past him. He was holding his phone low and at his waist.. and kept looking at it, then looking up, then down again at his phone. I’m 99% sure he was taking a photo of me. Later, when I looked him up on Facebook, I can’t see most of his profile, but I could see that he uploaded a mobile photo (timestamp) just about the time I passed him on the sidewalk. Again, I can’t prove anything … that he was taking a photo of me. But I feel extremely uncomfortable when I’m around him.

I am generally secure in myself, and in my size and disability/ability issues. However, the posts on Facebook are different than the general stares I’m used to getting, and name calling and fingerpointing. The fact that it was done in writing, with comments from other coworkers, in my place of work, makes me feel like something was done to me that I had no say over.

It’s extra-troubling because I really do think there’s nothing that can be done here. It’s not illegal to take photos of people in a public place. It’s not illegal to talk bad about people in social media. However, how far out can the line be drawn when the harassment policy defines some forms of harassment as:

“Other Forms of Harassment
• Physical threats
• Intimidation, ridicule or mockery
• Insulting words or slogans
• Offensive objects or pictures”

What are your thoughts about this situation? What can I do as a worker when I pass this guy again? Can I say anything to him?

Friends of mine want to take his photo and post it all over social media and say bad things about him. But I don’t play that way. Besides, that’d be considered “retaliation” and our harassment policy says a LOT about retaliation.

Whoa. Your HR department is incredibly bad.

Saying that your manager created a hostile workplace by alerting you to this guy’s behavior? What the hell?!  That’s like saying that someone caused a hostile workplace by alerting you that a coworker was taking photos looking up your skirt. It seems pretty obvious that the whistleblower wouldn’t be at fault in the second situation, and your manager isn’t at fault in the first either. So your HR department is incredibly incompetent.

Moving on to the next way they’ve messed this up, of course they can take action against this guy, and if they’ve made you feel that they can’t, that’s another huge mistake on their part. They absolutely can take action against anyone whose behavior they object to for any reason, whether there’s a policy on it or not, as long as it’s not based on that person’s race, religion, disability, or other protected class, and as long as it’s not retaliation for engaging in legally protected activity, as well as a small number of other legally protected things. So it doesn’t even matter if their harassment policy includes this kind of behavior … but as it so happens, the policy actually does cover this kind of thing, based on what you quoted here. And it doesn’t matter if the behavior was at work or outside of it; they’re allowed to address this, including firing the guy if they want to.

That said, it sounds like they did take action against him last time — it sounds like they did talk to him, and it wasn’t crazy to not give you details about that conversation; it’s actually pretty normal not to share details of disciplinary conversations with other employees. But I can certainly see why you don’t have confidence in them, given the rest of the way they responded to this, and the fact that it sounds like they’ve given you the impression that their hands are tied to some extent, when that’s BS.

As for what to do now, I’d say you should go back and formally report this again. It might be a little tricky if no one can prove he actually took the photo, but even if they ultimately can’t conclude anything definitive, I think it’s worth having a record of complaints against this guy if his behavior is continuing.

And as for saying something to him, hell yes, I think you should. If you feel safe doing it, I’d call him out in the moment if you see anything that looks like it might be him photographing you. I’d even follow him back to his desk and talk to his manager about it right in front of him, if you’re willing.

Aside from all that, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this jerk. He sounds like an utter ass, and your employer should have been more proactive in putting a stop to this crap.

{ 159 comments… read them below }

    1. CEMgr*

      The OP already has a job and I hesitate to advise someone to leave a situation that is otherwise a good fit because of the undoubted issues raised here. No need for OP to sacrifice her seniority, recognition, and status because of someone else’s bizarrely bad behavior. OP is doing a great job sticking up for herself, so let’s support her to continue to do so and not be chased out of a job.

      1. fposte*

        Additionally, it sounds like the OP has good coworkers who have been behind her on this. That’s not nuthin’.

        Too bad they’re not getting the HR they deserve, though.

        1. VintageLydia*

          I’d still consider it. You can have the best boss in the world, but if the hierarchy above her is so terrible that they rather ignore harassing behavior, especially something this blatant and inappropriate, then deal with it, I question whether it’s a good fit overall. They obviously don’t give a hoot about retaining her so she doesn’t owe them any loyalty. If this complaint results in nothing being done, she should at minimum put some feelers out.
          If its one thing I learned from this blog is shitty employers will be shitty, no matter how unfair. You can’t change them, but you can leave them.

          1. fposte*

            HR isn’t necessarily “above,” though; that’s one of its weirdnesses. It can matter more how you fit with the surrounding pieces than with the office you have only occasional contact with (and of course this all depends on the OP’s region and field, since other jobs aren’t always easy to come by).

            That being said, I think the manager could have pushed back more, and I hope she does this time. (I also think Hannah’s point about his possibly harassing other people is an excellent one, and I hope management considers that too.)

          2. Limon*

            No, it doesn’t make sense to look for another job. There is no ‘magical’ best job out there and thinking there is can just bring angst. Seems better to stay and deal with the situation and make the best of it.

            There are weird people everywhere, why let that get in the way of being the best you can be and accomplishing what you need to accomplish?

      2. annie*

        Also, unfortunately, people with disabilities have a much harder time finding a job than people without, so I think the OP should definitely continue try to change the culture of the company first as she is doing, rather than attempting a job search that might take a very long time.

        That said, clearly this company’s HR is really screwed up, I wouldn’t cry a whole lot of tears over leaving this company if the OP happens to find another job elsewhere. That’s the consequence of bad management – you loose great employees.

        1. Elle-em-en-oh-pee*

          It really is too bad that many disabled people are looked at to “make a difference.” She shouldn’t have to. I am not objecting to your comment, if the OP wants to stay at this job she should stay. I am just sad that in addition to the difficulties faced by disabled citizens in every day situations, many are expected to crusaders. No one should have to fight to be treated respect at their jobs.

          I am a firm believer in “it is up to you to make a difference” and “if you don’t like it, change it,” but most disabled folk I know have so many other things on their plate without the additional responsibility keeping society honest. Making the world a better place is not a requisite for most people conducting everyday lives, why does it need to be for the disabled?

          I say this in a philosophical spirit, not to discount your point.

  1. LisaLyn*

    That person is disgusting and pathetic. That’s the only thought in my head right now. What a gross excuse for a human.

    1. OliviaNOPE*

      Seriously. I am sorry that OP has had to deal with this. This dude sounds so juvenile and awful.

  2. Hannah*

    I wonder who else at your workplace this guy is harassing. I would put money on that it’s not just you. I bet he has done similar acts with other co-workers as jerks like these are usually jerks to everyone even if it feels like he’s singling you out for your appearance. Shame on him and even more shame on the co-workers who go along with it.

    1. Andrea*

      This—-I came here to point out that I’d be surprised if you were the only one. And OP, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. This might be the most incompetent HR department I’ve ever heard of.

    2. Anonicorn*

      This is a good point. Someone who would do this has probably already done or will do other jerky things. Not that it’s any excuse.

      On a side note, what is wrong with people?!

    3. Jessa*

      This also, and also I would post a complaint to Facebook. As FB does have policies against harassment. If you have a friend who has access have them screencap those pages for you. Get copies of whatever you can. For the record and PRINT them out.

      1. WorkingMom*

        This is a great idea. If your HR department is not willing to do anything, perhaps FB can at least prohibit him from posting pictures for a set time period. Then every time he does it, report him again, and keep doing it. Eventually, I would hope, he will tire of the FB restrictions and move on. Or maybe not, but at least it’s another avenue to try. Good luck, OP! I’m sorry you have to deal with this complete idiot!

  3. EM*

    I am totally floored than an adult would be so immature and awful as to post photos of a coworker on Facebook in order to make fun of their appearance. It’s hard to believe this jerk has anyone willing to be “friends” with him on Facebook. OP, so sorry you have to deal with this creep; I hope your HR department takes action and cans him.

    1. Sallie Ann*

      Sadly, it happens all the time, and not just on Facebook, or online in general. Once a man nearly hit a parked car because he was so busy yelling “UGLY!” at me out of his car window.

      1. Tina*

        People can be so awful sometimes! I’m sorry about what that jerk said to you and what the jerk in the letter did to OP.

  4. Katie the Fed*

    What. The. Everloving.Eff?

    Sounds like you have a bunch of morons in HR. Good for your boss for reporting this and telling you.

    I don’t have any advice beyond what AAM said, except a big FU to this guy, and my hopes that karma takes care of him. What a miserable little butthole he must be to behave this way.

    1. anon*

      Great idea. They should also take screenshots first as evidence in case HR ever gets their heads out of their asses and does something.

  5. HR Gorilla*

    Posting a quick comment just to tell OP: your HR department….ugh. I’m in HR and neither I nor anyone in my dept would allow this to keep happening. Sending you some anonymous internet warm fuzzies because what a frustrating situation!!

    1. KJ*

      I will second that — I am also in HR and am frankly embarrassed that your HR department is so awful. What a terrible response!!

  6. Sally*

    This really sucks. I am so sorry that you work with such a douchebag, and that your HR department is behaving with such idiocy. I’m glad your boss at least did the right thing.

  7. Goosey Lucy*

    If you ever see him being suspicious with his phone again, I would just ask politely, “Taking another picture to mock me on facebook?” and see how he responds.

    I’m sorry you have to deal with his idiocy, immaturity and an awful HR department on top of all that.

    1. Limon*

      You could also just say, ‘what are you doing?’ keep it simple, so to speak.

      Agree that just asking a simple question can really shame people who are doing shameful things. That’s they whole point, tho. Put the shame back on them.

      1. Limon*

        ps – don’t mean to be negative about what you said Goosey. I just know that when I am in those situations and probably angry, I have a hard time not letting some anger seep through. I don’t think I could say the ‘facebook part,’ without it somehow being an invitation to the other person to jump on me. If I keep it simple, there is less for them to latch on to.

    2. Jen*

      YES! This is the kind of guy who if you point blank said “Hi, I heard that you had posted a photo and mocked me on facebook, are you doing it again? Because if so, I’d like to smile so you get my good side.” and then stare at him right in the face and don’t blink. This is the kind of jerk who would just have no idea what to say.

      I once saw an insult about me in a work e-mail chain and I called the person who wrote it and said “Hi, I don’t think I was supposed to see this message because you said ____ about me.” and I just paused and the silence went on for so long and then finally stammering and an apology and blah blah blah, I’m so sorry, blah blah blah.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s going to impair the point if you want to make a complaint, though. It doesn’t matter if you leave him speechless if what you want is to leave him pictureless.

        1. Anonymous*

          I agree. Do not to pretend it doesn’t bother you. it does, and it should. At some point, your employer may become legally responsible for not controlling the situation. You may want to find out more about when that happens and how to file a formal Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint (or whatever is the equivalent workplace discrimination complaint if you are outside the USA).

    3. Mary*

      I agree this person is a first class jerk – being we all know this; would it really be a good idea to talk to him about him taking another picture? Unless concrete evidence was found that he actually took the picture, my concern is he could go back (with what we know about him, I would have no doubt) to HR and say that the OP was harassing him and making sarcastic comments; no matter how nice it was phrased.

      I am very sorry about this OP. This is the first story I have read here that bought tears to my eyes.

  8. Tiff*

    I’m sorry, this guy sounds like an enormous ass. Something tells me that his sense of humor is not appreciated by your co-workers either. And the next time he pulls out his phone I would ask him point blank if he was taking pictures. Jerk.

  9. Brittany*

    WOW. This is just horrendous.

    I say go to the media. A newspaper would easily pick this up and shame not only this guy for being a total *ssclown, but your company as well for not supporting you and taking the necessary disciplinary action.

    Maybe not the highest road, but if this guy is doing it to the OP, you can bet he’s probably doing it to others too. Jerk.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed with the others that this is a bad idea and, as someone who has worked as a newspaper reporter, I can say that a newspaper would not easily pick this up. This is a private business matter and newspapers don’t typically pick those up as stories. Now, if the OP sued the business or the guy, then yes that would likely make the news. But the fact that an HR department isn’t doing what they should be doing? Happens all the time. It’s not news.

  10. KimmieSue*

    OP – Along with everyone else, I’m appalled by your experience. I’m terribly sorry that there are such low life people in the world AND crappy HR.
    I’m curious about mentioned that you talked to the office who handles the harassment complaint…what “office are you referring too? Was it in internal HR team? Or did you file a complaint with the EEOC? If not, that might be another tact you can try.

    1. ShortOP*

      All of this was done through the EEOC office, a copy of my original complaint was filed with HR as well.

        1. KimmieSue*

          Okay, so fposte is on the right track…any findings? I’d understand if you were reluctant to go back to EEOC, but it might be worth the time. Perhaps a possible repeat event, might get the appropriate reaction?
          I reserve this final recommendation as a LAST resort, but if you like the company and are invested in the job…it might be time to consult an attorney?

          1. ShortOP*

            I also consulted an attorney before I filed my first complaint. I’m curious about law, especially in terms of social media. Unfortunately the employers policies are vaguely written, and this social media space is huge and grey. The 2 attorney’s I talked to expressed that going up against my employer would be a long, lengthly, expensive and possibly damaging process. Apparently in local legal circles my employer plays dirty. It wasn’t worth it to me, I (sadly?) didn’t want to be a martyr on that hill.

            As far as ‘findings’, I was never given a written report after my meeting with EEOC (should I have been?). I was pretty much told that he was talked to and that was that.

            1. Joey*

              Yes. EEOC should issue you a right to sue letter. Go back to EeOC and tell them you’re being harassed because of your disability- that someone is taking pictures of you at work, then mocking you on FB because of your disability.

            2. Judy*

              Was that your company’s EEOC office/program or the government’s EEOC office you spoke to?

                1. Lindsay J*

                  Go to the government EEOC office.

                  I was going to suggest a consultation with an attorney, but I see above that you’ve already tried that route.

  11. Joey*

    Your HR Dept thinks of it this way: we can’t control what people do (ie. Facebook posts) outside of work and taking a rated G picture of someone at work isn’t by itself that bad.

    Probably what they are listening for is behavior that is unacceptable at work. So yes, focus on the picture taking, but also tell them that you believe he’s taking pictures of you solely because of your disability. And that you feel like you’re being harassed specifically because of it.

    1. Joey*

      Another thing. You don’t have to “prove” he did it. They’re obligated to make a reasonable effort to determine that. So yes, while it helps to give them proof of him taking the pictures don’t let it stop you from filing a complaint, especially since you saw him pointing his phone at you and later saw a picture on his Facebook page that confirmed he took the picture.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, this is a good point. If they’re focusing on the social media aspect of this and that’s making it cloudier (even though it shouldn’t), then take the focus off of that, and instead focus on the piece that’s happening at work — that this guy is taking photos of you because of your height.

      1. Joey*

        I’d stick with saying because of your disability. I’m not sure a weak HR department would link height/ dwarfism with a disability so I’d use the key words harrassment and disability- even incompetent HR folks know these words mean action needs to be taken.

      2. Jessa*

        That and I can’t believe that in most work places it’s not considered wrong to take pictures of anyone during work.

        Work is not a public place where people have a right to take any picture they want to. I have a reasonable expectation of privacy at work unless it’s my EMPLOYER doing the picture taking, and even then I can make a case that unless they have permission to publish it that they can’t use it for advertising where my face can be seen.

        Every single job I’ve ever had that did external advertising got individual permission for every campaign. They didn’t for an internal newsletter, but for the financial report for instance that would go to stockholders? The professional pictures of the officers were specific to purpose of course but they were officers, the STAFF had to give an okay in order for them to put those general pics of the office scenes in the thing, if you could ID them from the photos.

        A fellow employee can’t just go around doing this whether I’m in a protected class or NOT. If the company does not have SPECIFIC policies to deal with this, then now is the time to PUT THEM IN PLACE. If they have general policies that would cover this, now is the time to USE them.

  12. SJ*

    Who DOES things like this? Seriously, adults behave like this? And at WORK, no less? I’m stunned.

  13. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    Um yeah as an HR Manager, I would have to say that I would have advised his manager to let him go when the first incident occurred. We have a zero tolerance policy for harassment and this is exactly what it is. The harasser is the one causing the hostile work environment and not you. How incredibly sad that your HR Department allowed this to go on without addressing it.

  14. BCW*

    Its horrible that this has happened. But my question, in general, is where does the line get drawn. I mean I get that the pictures and comments about your appearance seem to cross a line. But where is it really.

    I mean if I write a FB post about the stupid, bitchy, young girl at work, but I’m not friends with her on FB, and I’m civil to her at work is that harassment? Does it depend on how easily identifiable they are? (And sure you can say I’m immature for doing it all you want, but its venting, and thats not what I’m asking about). I’m really curious where the social media lines actually are, because I’m of the thought that, while its completely vile to take the pictures and post them without knowledge of someones diability, aside from that I kind of don’t know if the behavior of trash talking/mocking/complaining about a co-worker on social media is really something work can/should dictate.

    1. Amanda H*

      Just a thought aside from whether workplaces can/should dictate social media or venting: future employers can see anything you post on the Internet. Employers can and do vet candidates by checking out social media. Regardless of whether the coworker in question is truly annoying, some employers may view venting as unprofessional–even when it’s outside the workplace–and decide against interviewing/hiring you.

      1. BCW*

        Fair enough, and I know I take that risk of future employers seeing whats online For what its worth, my facebook is damn near impossible to get to unless you know someone who knows me (which they may), and even then you can’t see everything. But I get your point, and thats fine if they consider that a reason to not hire me. But I’m just curious about what a current employers duty is, especially if I’m an otherwise good employee.

        1. annie*

          But, you’re not an “otherwise good employee” if you’re complaining about your coworkers on social media. It is unprofessional and presents a bad image of the company to outsiders, even if it just people on your friends list.

          Complaining about coworkers/customers on social media has happened at my company and the boss has seen it and people did get in trouble. It’s good to remember your privacy settings may not always be correct, and even if they are, you never know what your Facebook “friends” may show to other people you are not friends with – nothing is truly private.

        2. Brett*

          Graph search can get to far more than you think you have exposed, especially if you have given rights to other applications. Once had an issue locally with a facebook group that was organizing opposition to a development project, backed by some very racist rhetoric. The group had anonymous moderators.
          Unfortunately for those moderators, Graph search quickly revealed the identifies of all four moderators (including a real estate agent and an insurance moderator).

    2. Joey*

      Depends on the company. Some employers won’t do anything about that type of behavior that’s done away from work. Interestingly, Id bet if an employer fired you for harassing someone away from work you’d probably qualify for UE since the behavior didnt happen at work. And i know most govt jobs wouldnt fire you for this type of stuff in most positions. But, there are ways around this. All you have to do is link the effects of the behavior to the workplace and boom- you’re a legitimate work problem.

      1. Brett*

        Our public agency states in their acceptable use policies and general orders that you are representing the department at all times, and as such are responsible for any personal social media posts that reflect poorly on the department regardless of when and how they were made. (Or really -any- behavior outside of work hours.) There are first amendment protections, because it is a public agency, but the first amendment does not protect you for consequences where the agency has a compelling interest (e.g. protecting their image and reputation).

        1. Joey*

          That’s a PR nightmare waiting to happen. What happens when I moan about my crappy boss and company to other employees on a public forum? Are you prohibiting employees from taking about wages in a public forum? Or its spun in public as big brother dictating what you do in your off hours? When its govt the public perception of it I would argue is probably one of the most important factors to consider.

        2. Brett*

          “What happens when I moan about my crappy boss and company to other employees on a public forum? Are you prohibiting employees from taking about wages in a public forum?”

          There are fairly strict definitions of what constitutes reflecting poorly on the department (#1 on the list is engaging in criminal behavior). There are circumstances in which the first type of circumstance could get you in trouble (e.g. purposely slandering coworkers or revealing specific details of an investigation), but the second case would clearly have little to do with the policy. We gripe in public all the time about wages (like, in front of TV cameras public).

          The most common way people get in trouble is by making racially and sexually discriminatory and harassing remarks.

          Each employee individually signs off in writing and digitally on this list separately from other policies, as well as digitally signing off on each change in the list.

    3. AnonyMouse28*

      If you’re wondering about the line legally speaking: only a very narrow set of circumstances protects speech posted on social media/blogs (for example, the right for workers to organize, whistleblower protections, etc). Otherwise, your employer can look up and do what they want with any social media data (including hire/fire) they dig up. If I’m recalling the caselaw correctly, I also don’t think it matters if it’s publicly available or limited in its availability (i.e. “private”/”friends only”), it’s still data posted on a privately owned website and accessed by a private entity and so is not covered by anything other than that social media website’s terms and services (if that).

      Basically–if you don’t want to be fired for it, don’t post it.

      1. BCW*

        I get the legalities of it. Most jobs can not hire or fire you for anything they want. Schools have fired teachers for having bikini pictures of them on vacation. So I get it. Its more though what is a reasonable expectation of what you can do without a company meddling in what you say away from work? I understand if you are criticizing your company in a public forum, that makes sense. I think other stuff is more grey though.

        1. some1*

          Before Facebook, people got fired for mocking their co-workers in the break room or in the parking lot where they didn’t think they would be overheard. Why is this different?

    4. Anon*

      There are a couple of differences:
      1) Bitchy co-worker *chooses* to be bitchy. OP does not choose to have dwarfism.
      2) Venting about irritating behavior is on a WHOLE different level than mocking someone for a medical condition. “Joan put the coffee pot back on the burner with two tablespoons of coffee left and didn’t make more!” is so entirely different from “Haha doesn’t this chick look funy?” that I can’t even begin to see the comparison.
      3) Straight-up venting about a co-worker isn’t the same as posting a picture of the co-worker. And I would go so far as to say that posting a picture of an inappropriately-dressed co-worker would also be inappropriate.

      Furthermore, on Facebook, people are frequently representing their company (especially if they have their workplace listed!). The company has every right to expect its employees to act professionally. This includes using judgment with respect to social media. It is not smart to put anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t want the subject to hear, full stop. When you post rants about co-workers, pictures with mocking commentary about co-workers (any co-worker, but ESPECIALLY one with a disability), you are saying that your company hires people who have bad social-media judgment. The company absolutely can and should limit that behavior. You want to rant, do it to a friend in person.

      (And now would be a good time to gently remind people that First Amendment violations require government action. A private employer cannot violate your First Amendment rights.)

      1. AnonyMouse28*

        lol, I feel like I have to remind people of your parenthetical at least once a day.

      2. Pussyfooter*

        per Anon @ 3:45 ‘s post,
        #3 reminds me of discussions I’ve had about the legalities of photographing people without their permission.
        If this is happening on work property, does OP have a legal right to privacy? Does she need to give her consent for these photos to publicly displayed? Art Law gets confusing fast…am wondering if this pertains?

    5. Anonymous*

      If you limit yourself to positive posts and thoughts, you shouldn’t have any problem. If it’s something you wouldn’t say publicly about your best friend, then it’s not positive.

      In other words, vent privately, not online. Work cannot dicate it unless there is a written policy, but are you planning to stay at your current employer until you retire? If not, then think carefully how you present yourself online. And yes, we have rejected applicatants who “overshare” and will continue to do so.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      BCW, the thing that makes this very clear cut is that he’s mocking someone because of a disability. That’s different than complaining about a coworker. That said, your company can certainly decide that it’s not okay with you complaining about coworkers (because it reveals something about your attitude or will make it harder for people to work with you or whatever) and take action against that.

      1. BCW*

        I get the disability aspect. And let me be clear since people don’t seem to understand this, I think what happened was wrong. I also think snapping pictures and posting them is completely wrong, disability or not. I’m just saying whether a company “can” discipline you for complaining about a co-worker and whether they “should” is debatable. So Allison, you as a manger, what would your line be?

        1. Xay*

          I think that when you take pictures of your coworkers and post them on the internet to be mocked, you cross a line. At some point or another, most people complain about their jobs and/or coworkers. Even then, most people avoid naming names. But taking a picture and posting it online, even to what you think is a select group of coworkers, is an attempt to humiliate and embarass someone to peers. And it doesn’t matter how select the group of people is – the OP found out about the post from her boss. Her boss. Not even just another coworker. Even workplaces where people just gossip behind each other’s backs can become hostile, how can one where you literally hold someone up for ridicule be healthy?

          1. Lindsay J*

            Yes. I’m pretty sure that if this was happening to a child in school it would qualify as cyberbullying under most cyberbullying laws. Since she is an adult she doesn’t get the protection under these laws, but I feel there is a definite line being crossed here.

        2. Joey*

          You do what you believe is right and is consistent with what you would do if it happened again with different players. If the FB posting was bad enough I would fire the guy. If it wasn’t terrible you wag a heavy finger at him.

        3. Forrest*

          I’m pretty sure there’s an obvious line between venting once about an anonymous person and posting (repeatedly) pictures and comments regarding someone’s appearance.

          I’m not sure why you’re even trying to start this debate. Its pretty obvious that there’s no blurred lines here and most logical people would see the difference.

          Additionally, this post about a company that’s not doing much of anything even in the most extreme of situation. Its not like her HR department is leaping over this dude’s civil rights to punish him.

          1. BCW*

            Where do you get that I’m trying to start a debate? I’m clearly just asking where people think the line is on where management should have a say in what you are doing online while not at work. In fact, I didn’t give an opinion either way on where it was, I said its debatable, but I never offered a side to even make it an actual debate.

            1. VintageLydia*

              Probably because your tone is very “Devil’s Advocate”-y, even though your hypothetical has nothing to do with the OP to the point of wondering why you even brought it up.

              1. BCW*

                I’m glad that you know what tone I was trying to portray. See problem with internet message boards, emails, and text is that you DON’T know the tone, so being accusatory isn’t really solving anything.

                1. VintageLydia*

                  Fine, ignoring tone, asking a question and then replying to everyone who responds with an answer with some sort of arguement or caveat may lead people to believe you are trying to start a debate and/or drawing comparisons between the OP and your hypothetical.
                  This is why I assumed your tone. Your content is very argumentative. I honestly cannot see how it can be interpreted differently, to be honest.

              2. Ellie H.*

                I actually don’t think BCW was trying to start a debate about the problem the OP is having. I understood BCW’s question and subsequent comments as saying “This problem made me curious about broader issues about how employees use social media to discuss the workplace,” and commenting on those broader issues. I didn’t perceive any devil’s advocate type tone regarding this specific situation of the OP, at all.

            2. Forrest*

              “I’m clearly just asking where people think the line is on where management should have a say in what you are doing online while not at work.”

              I don’t mean to be rude but you’re arguing that you’re not trying to start a debate by saying this? Which sounds like a debate starting point?

    7. My 2 Cents*

      Actually, this has recently been taken up by the NLRB to determine what qualifies as protected speech and what is a fireable offense when it comes to Facebook posts. Essentially, it comes down to whether you are bad mouthing the company (fireable) or complaining about your work conditions (protected).

      You can Google more on the subject, and I am not an expert or attorney, but here is what I think the NLRB said:

      “My boss is a tyrant, I hate him!” Fireable.

      “My boss is a tyrant, I hate him, he made me do X, Y Z, today even though it’s not in my job description” Protected.

      In the second example, you are complaining about working conditions, which are generally protected speech. In the first example, you are just complaining and bad mouthing, which is not protected.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m 97% sure that ruling also said that it needed to be a conversation with others. Make a post that no coworker “likes” or comments on? Unprotected. Post about working conditions that includes interaction with coworkers? Protected.

        But double check that before listening to me.

        1. Another Evil HR Director*

          You are correct, Allison. Protected activity, whether on social media or not, includes talk of wages, hours and conditions of work. Furthermore, it needs to be between two or more employees and normally needs to include a “call to action” (“This is horrible and unfair! We need to do something about it!”) Other employees simply sympathizing with a poster’s comments (“Yeah, I’m sorry that happened to you”) will not usually afford protection. Truly disparaging remarks thrown out by someone against a company or manager are not necessarily protected. The NLRB has ruled hundreds, if not thousands of times on this subject in the last several years. They have given examples of “approved” social media policies, including Walmart’s, I believe, that give specific examples of what is, or is not, protected.

    8. Jessa*

      Part of where the line gets drawn is that work is not a public place. You can pretty much take my picture on a public street and as long as you don’t use it for a purpose of profit or true defamation you can probably get away with it. You can probably take my picture in a public venue like a store or a restaurant or bar and same thing. As long as you’re not profiting or committing a civil offence (actively defaming me by altering the picture to show me committing a crime or lying about me in a really really harmful way that I could sue for damages,) you’re probably in the clear. And even then I still have to sue you for damages.

      The key though is public place. Everyone at least in the US has what they call a right to privacy. There’s a kind of bubble around us. Where that bubble STOPS is subject to a lot of very conflicting law and craziness. However. It’s pretty clear that an office where the public is not welcome and only employees are allowed in (as in an office that is not a retail store for instance,) is pretty much a PRIVATE PLACE and people within it do not give up their rights to privacy just by being there, except in certain manners to their EMPLOYER (IE you can be searched, your desk doesn’t belong to you etc.)

      If you openly point a camera in my direction and I don’t object, you’ve pretty much got consent. If you’re surreptitiously filming, I can pretty much make a fast case that you know darned well you DO NOT HAVE consent and would NOT have it if I knew you were filming. If you’re not representing the COMPANY, you’re pretty much out of luck then. Because my being there didn’t give you any sort of permission to film me. And the mere ownership of a camera doesn’t trump ALL my rights. I’m not standing in the middle of Grand Central Station here.

    9. KellyK*

      I think that if it’s visible from that same social media profile *where* you work, then it becomes the company’s business, because you’re not just trashing “random unnamed coworker,” but dragging the employer’s name down a little bit as well.

      I also think it becomes their business if it spills over into work. For example, if you’re posting on FB about what an incompetent dope “that girl who sits across from me” is where a bunch of coworkers can see it and know full well who you’re talking about, that affects her work relationship with them. In that case, I think it would be completely reasonable of your company to tell you to knock it off.

      Generic, reasonably anonymous venting shouldn’t be your employer’s concern. (But if it *becomes* their concern, it probably wasn’t as anonymous as it should’ve been.)

    10. Melissa*

      It’s probably a case by case thing. Personally, I wouldn’t want to hire anyone who’s trash talking other employees on Facebook because to me that indicates a lack of discretion. I’ve also had to have conversations with employees based on their use of Facebook when posting negative things about the job or that affect the job. It’s just a bad idea. Keep a journal instead.

  15. Yup*

    Without knowing the specifics of how your workplace is structured, is it worth pushing this up the chain outside HR? For example, to your boss’s boss (with your boss’s involvement)? Frankly, it sounds like the HR office is a bunch of cowards hiding behind “well, we can’t be sure…” and “it’s not our place to monitor that” hedging. So I’m wondering if there are right-thinking executives higher up the chain who would be rightfully appalled by the total lack of professionalism and fair treatment that you’re encountering. If you feel like there are competent influential senior people in your workplace, I’d consider asking your boss to set up a meeting with them for advice. “OP was subjected to this behavior by a coworker. Here was the result. We have reason to believe that it’s still continuing, but HR is treating this a grey area. What is your advice for how OP (and Boss) should proceed when these concerning interactions take place that don’t meet the standard for a formal complaint?” Because it might be worth it to conduct a quiet fact-finding exercise with the tone of “I am a professional seeking your advice, with Boss’s approval, for handling an interpersonal situation not covered in the handbook.” My hope is that there is someone up the chain who will hear your experience and become an ally by correctly concluding that this is not how people at your workplace are expected to treat their colleagues.

    1. HRAnon*

      I second this suggestion, and add the possibility of complaining higher up in HR… unless you have a tiny HR department, the response you got to your first complaint was so bad that it makes me wonder if it was one individual idiot. Suggesting that your manager was creating a hostile work environment for you… actually reinforces and affirms the liability of the company. Check your policies for complaint procedures- if you do not receive a satisfactory response, there is often a procedure for escalating it. I also second the idea of complaining to the actual EEOC, at the very least, this requires a (written and official) response from your comapny, and may make them take this more seriously.

      1. Jessa*

        Exactly. I mean how the heck is it creating a hostile environment to let someone know that something is happening so someone does something to protect themselves? If someone was stalking me and the company knew but didn’t tell me? And I got hurt in the parking lot? Where do they draw the line? How is it NOT the job of someone who knows someone is out to hurt me to NOT let me know this? What if this person is more than stupid online? What if this person is malicious and I invite them to my house for tea? How would I know to be wary of this person?

  16. Tiffany In Houston*

    OP – Have you thought about reporting this co-worker directly to FB as spam or as harassment?? At least this might get the pictures taken down off the page so they won’t be searchable on the internet.

  17. Amy*

    If only “general kindness” could be made an official condition of employment. People who choose to vent in public (i.e post mean things on facebook instead of on the phone to their best non-work friend or significant other) are then doing so at their own risk. It’s possible (maybe less satisfying at the moment) to vent/’gossip’ about someone while still respecting their dignity as a person and maintaining compassion.

    “This woman at work made me feel really irritated today. Some of her little habits just happen to also be my pet peeves, and it can really bug me”
    “One of my employee’s outfits was really innapropriate for the workplace today. I wonder if no-one told him that chocolate-teapot print shirts are only allowed at the yearly party. Everyone was staring, and he looked a little silly. I’ll drop him a note about it tomorrow as a heads-up”

  18. Another Emily*

    Good on ya OP for sticking up for yourself. I have no advice, but I thought this story of a photo-taking jerk getting what he deserved might be encouraging.

    This jerk posted photos of people at his gym on Facebook and made fun of them. This behaviour resulted in him getting kicked out of the gym, and being publicly (if anonymously) shamed on the internet. Probably the best possible outcome.

    If one of your coworkers could friend him on Facebook you might be able to get the proof you need to get your sad-sack HR department to do something.

  19. Anonymous*

    For me, the bottom line is something terrible happened to the OP at work and her company did a astonishingly terrible job of handling. Sure you don’t want to leave a job, they are hard to come by. But I think at least looking for a new job would be a good idea. Someone mentioned about not leaving a job where everything else is good but this..well “THIS” is a fricking big deal. That’s a little “Otherwise how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”: My job is great except for the disturbed co-worker who takes pictures of me and posts them on FB with cruel comments and my company absolutely blew it in responding to it. I’m going on the assumption that the HR response we DO know about is so bad that whatever kind of talking-to they gave the guy who do this was as lame.

    I wouldn’t confront the guy but that’s based on my belief that it would do as much good as talking to a wall.

  20. PPK*

    “It’s extra-troubling because I really do think there’s nothing that can be done here. It’s not illegal to take photos of people in a public place. It’s not illegal to talk bad about people in social media. ”

    Is the OP’s place of work really public? My workplace is definitely not public. I think the OP should focus on what is happening at work — that a coworker is taking photos without permission and it makes the OP uncomfortable. The OP should bring it up again — that after an incident investigated by her boss, things were okay. But recently, the behavior occurred again. I know the OP probably feels paranoid at this point and wants “proof” a photo was taken, but I think their assumption was likely correct.

    And I agree with others, this guy is probably taking photos of other people as well.

    1. Andrea*

      Yeah, I was wondering about this, too. Chances are that the OP’s workplace is private property, so not really the same as just being in public, right? But I’m not sure if that distinction matters here.

      1. ShortOP*

        I’ve wondered too if the type of workplace matters… I’ve tried to stay vague about my workplace because I didn’t think it mattered. But does it matter if it was in a government building, on a public university campus, a private building contractor, architect firm, hospital, or ad agency?

        1. fposte*

          I think it would matter more if you were arguing about your legal right to control your image with Jackass, not about your workplace rights with Jackass HR. If you guys didn’t work together the photography rights issue would be the main avenue. And if Jackass loses his job, that might be something to look into.

        2. FreeThinkerTX*

          I learned last Friday when I took my boyfriend to the VA hospital’s ER that it is illegal to take pictures of any kind on federal government property. I just wanted to snap a pic of him in a hospital gown, and I almost got thrown out.

  21. srmanager*

    Do you have an inside corporate counsel? If they are any good, they’ll see that the harasser is a huge potential liability to the company. The OP is in a protected class and this behavior probably extends to other employees, who might also be in a protected class.

  22. Works in HR*

    OP, I am so sorry this happened to you. Others have made some great suggestions. I just wanted to echo AAM’s (and others’) suggestions to bring up this new incident to your boss/HR. It’s possible that the guy was given a strong warning that if this stuff ever happened again he’d be let go. And while it’s not exactly the same thing that happened, it’s very related. I’d almost put what he did (this recent time) in the category of taunting you – even if he didn’t actually take a photo, he certainly was hinting/pretending that he was, and there could be no other reason (? that I could think of) for him to do that other than taunting you — possibly taunting you in retaliation for you making the complaint 2 years ago.

    Anyway, my point is that this *might* give the company the “ammunition” they thought they needed before they could let him go. (As AAM said, they didn’t need to wait for that ammunition, but maybe they thought they did.)

    I just hope they don’t try to claim that 2 years is too much time in between the two offenses…

    Also, another thought: is it possible that his being moved to another location was part of the “solution” for preventing him from harassing you any longer? Like AAM said, you wouldn’t necessarily be informed that that was the reason, but it occurred to me as a possibility.

      1. Joey*

        That’s really irrelevant in the eyes of the law. As long as they take steps to stop it that’s all that matters. And surely they can spin the move as part of the solution.

        1. fposte*

          I think ShOP’s point is that the move couldn’t have been conceived as part of the solution, regardless of how it gets spun (and it’s not working so great anyway).

  23. Hooptie*

    This may be unwise but it’s right off the top of my head…

    I don’t know about your state, but this is clearly harrassment in my opinion (maybe work related, maybe not). If it were me, and my HR department won’t take action, I would pursue it through other means.

    You may want to look into getting a restraining order against this guy that includes taking pictures. I can’t imagine any judge not granting it. If he’s sneakily following you around to take pictures, that may be borderline stalking as well?

    Maybe the threat of a restraining order would get HR to take action against this guy? Yes, it would be inconvenient because if they wanted to keep him they may have to do some shuffling to avoid contact. And yes, they may try to come back against the OP (but that further cements a discrimination case, I would think).

  24. pidgeonpenelope*

    Oh my gawd, OP! I have no good advice but I just feel horrid that you’re being bullied and harassed like this. I really hope he gets his just desserts.

  25. POF*

    This would be cause for immediate termination in our organization. We had a really proficient paraprofessional who was escorted out by security becasue she posted unflattering comments about her boss on line. Basically stuff you would say to a friend in a bar…. but ou policy is if you post something negative or derogatory on social media we will terminate you. She was young and had a career ahead of her.

  26. Brton3*

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Many bullies just don’t ever mature past 10th grade. There is something uncanny and pathetic about meeting a 40 year old high-school bully. Yet somehow, there are still people out there (mainly other bullies and the people who are pathologically attracted to bullies) who will still give them the attention and validation they need.

    1. Windchime*

      Yeah, this is really true, isn’t it? Bullying of this type (any type, really) is just so pathetically immature. People can be so thoughtless and cruel.

  27. snickus*

    OP, I second the rec to go above HR to your boss’s boss if you have reason to believe that person is more effective. I had to do that when my HR department ignored harassment. The top boss ordered HR to properly investigate. In the end , HR told the harasser to stay away from me or he’d be fired. I wish I’d immediately gone to that person instead of trying to make the best of a bad situation for months.

  28. Not So NewReader*

    This make me so mad- I don’t know where to begin.

    OP, go outside the company. Or tell them you plan on going outside the company.
    One post mentions a restraining order- I was thinking that calling the police would be good. Being followed around work and photographed is NOT acceptable. Being subject to harassment because of a physical issue is double jeopardy. Don’t call the local police. Call the state police.
    You can say point blank that you have tried to talk to people inside the company but they cannot do anything about it because what happens on the net is not under their rule.

    Keep a log of all the times you cross paths with this person. What is he doing each time? Write it down. It will be handy later.

    If you don’t like that idea how about talking to a reporter? You see how your situation sparked a lot of comments here, and brought other issues along with it. Sometimes the very word “reporter” makes companies rethink their position.

    OR how about printing out this blog here. You can say we are all wanting to know the name of the company so that we never accidentally apply there, nor buy their products/services. (How sad, we have some seriously brainy people writing in here….. they would be mighty fine employees.)

    Since it is happening on the net and not under their control then they should have no problem with you publishing their name here. (DON’T DO THIS- am just making a point that is all.)

    In a nutshell, OP, yeah, you have a corrupt employer. I kind of figured that before you said anything. See, a corrupt employer has that distorted logic that you described in your question. In their minds, your problem is small compared to other problems going on in your company. That is why they are giving you fluff answers. They covertly feel that they have bigger fish to fry. (Been there, seen this.)

    I tend to agree with the posters that suggested getting your resume out there. Consider what you are seeing is the tip of the iceberg and you may not want to be working at that company when the truth comes out. These people are way too preoccupied with other matters and I am not sure you want to find out what those matters are.

    1. Rayner*

      It’s a poor idea to threaten the company with the media at this point. As AAM stated, there could have been a reprimand issued by the company but the OP wouldn’t know about it, and she’s not able to prove that photo was taken this time.

      Far more would be accomplished by using the official complaints procedure, documenting rigorously, and by making sure that the company is a place that the OP wants to be, or putting out feelers for a new job. If that’s what the OP wants.

      HR did cock up, badly. But No respectable journalist will take this on in it’s current state, because there’s nothing especially scandalous/intriguing. Sucky and incredibly bad HR yes, newsworthy as it stands, no. and the OP will look over reactive if she goes into HR and says “If you don’t do something, I’ll tell the press”.

      Not sure what to think of the police comments, though. Half of me says, waaaaaaay overreactive, the other half of me says, ‘creepy can escalate faaaast, and so can trolldom’.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You might be right.
        In such a case, this narrrows OP’s options down to “leave the company”. Make a plan and move on. The company is showing OP that “This is the best we can do”.

  29. Brett*

    I completely forgot about this resource.
    You should contact your nearest chapter of Little People of America.

    I learned about this organization when I went to school with their former IT director. They have a wide range of support and resources and would probably be able to provide all sorts of useful assistance with this situation. (And they define little people as anyone under 4’10”, regardless of genetic or health condition that leads to their stature.)

  30. Rayner*

    I think this is also a very good idea to remind people that the Internet is forever, and nothing you do on there is truly private, especially on social networks like Facebook.

    If you wouldn’t be okay with your mother, your current boss, your significant other, and your potential future employer finding it, write it in a notebook under the mattress.

    Better security and control.

    OP, I agree with AAM. Tell your manager, document, and complain right up the procedural rank. If anyone has half a brain, they’ll do something quickly.

    Also, I suggest locking your social media as much as you can. If this guy will take pictures of you at work, there’s nothing stopping him finding your snaps and making fun of you through those too.

    What a d*uchewafflecanoebutt.

    1. Limon*

      I might just take the high road and let it go, be the better person. Yes, he was a jerk but you can’t change a jerk. It’s not your job. Let his behavior be his own and he can take the responsibility for that.

      Your job is to be the best you can be at what you are doing, and to be successful – however you define that. You spoke up, said what needed to be said and I would let it go. Eventually, you will move on and on your own terms. Fighting this might just make others angry; if they wanted to fix it they would have. Sometimes, letting things go is a way of taking good care of ourselves. Also, people respect us more when we are the better person in a crappy situation, when we act well and are respectful despite weirdness. This might serve you in the long, and short-term. People will reward you for not fighting – weird as that sounds.

      I keep thinking of Mia Farrow’s quote: “I decided to take the high road, because the low one was already so crowded.” Did I read that here? can’t remember where I read it, and I do spend alot of time here.

      1. VintageLydia*

        You do realize that part of him taking responsibility for his behavior is by alerting TPTB that he’s continuing to harass the LW despite whatever discipline he’s had, right? Taking the low road is retaliating (posting *his* picture and mocking his appearance would be the low road.) Bringing up a legitimate complaint is not. Just letting it go gives this jerk tacit approval to continue doing what he’s doing. Shutting up and taking it does nothing to help the LW.

        1. Rayner*

          It’s so beyond wrong to suggest that someone sit down and be quiet about how someone else at work is harassing them, and taking pictures without OP’s consent to post on social media and mock. The OP needs to use her company’s procedures set up for precisely this reason and insist on it stopping.

          It’s not about taking the high or low road at this point. It’s about insisting on a right to a workplace without bullying or harassment, and being treated as an equal, not an object of derision.

  31. Ruffingit*

    I have nothing to add to Alison’s advice, I just want to say…WHAT THE EFF??? Seriously, what is wrong with this man? He has some kind of major problem and I can only hope the karma bus is actually a fleet that runs over him repeatedly and then drags him down the street by his d!ck. I know, I am bitter. But nothing makes me angrier than people who make fun of others. GROW UP!

  32. AB*

    OP, I think someone mentioned something in those lines, but it’s worth repeating:

    Can’t you ask the coworker that first notified your boss of the Facebook incident to check if the person’s Facebook does have a new picture of you on the date you saw him using his cellphone?

    If it’s there, he/she could take a snapshot and send to you, and then you would have proof of a new offense.

    I would think that HR would be much more inclined to provide more serious consequences for this behavior if it was presented with proof that the harassment continues.

    Like others, I’m appalled that you had to deal with this sort of unacceptable behavior at work.

  33. Elizabeth West*

    I am just…I have no words. This is probably one of the creepiest, most jaw-dropping things I’ve ever seen on here. Even the magic curse lady can’t top this one.


    Good luck with this, OP. I hope they fire him. They’re idiots if they don’t. Complete fools.

  34. Best Left Unsent*

    This is horrifying and I am appalled for you, LW. This guy seems like an utter jackass, and if he’s using company time and company money to post mocking pictures of anyone he works with, he deserves to be blacklisted.

    Collect as much evidence as you can, and see if you can contact the ACLU or something, because this is not at all okay. And if you catch him again, try to give him the finger while he’s taking the picture.

  35. jesicka309*

    Ughhhhhh I hate this so much. Why, oh why don’t they fire people for this??

    I once had some douchenozzle call me ‘plump’ at work whilst browsing pictures of the Christmas party. He was looking at my deskmate’s computer screen, said ‘who’s that?’ My desk mate responded with ‘That’s jesicka309!!’ *eyeroll* Douche responded with ‘She’s looking a bit plump in that picture.’ !!! WHILE I WAS SITTING THERE. My deskmate said ‘DUDE you can not say that about people!’ and douche replied with ‘But she does!’

    A few random comments later (‘Hey jesicka, you look like that character from movie!’ – the fat comedic relief grr) and I sent an email to our manager just letting him know what had been happening, in case he’d been making similar comments to other people, and for documenting purposes. The guy continued to work for us for another 1.5 years! I lost a bit of respect for my work over time. How can they continue to employ such an awful person? Where is their judgement? :(

    I hope the OP finds a way to figure this out gracefully, and in a way that leaves her satisfied. Don’t need to know punishment details, but it would be nice to know if your employer had taken some sort of action, or if they just don’t care.

  36. Rana*

    OP, I have no advice that hasn’t been offered already, but I just wanted you to know that you have all my sympathy. That guy? I am so angry at him on your behalf! And at your HR too!

  37. Anony1234*

    At my retail job, there is a coworker who fiddles with her cell phone all the time, even though it is against company policy to use it during work hours – with the exception of expecting a family emergency with the permission of the manager.

    I’m not friends with her on Facebook, but I did find her profile once. I saw that she had taken photos of customers. I remember to specific photos. One was of a young girl (teenage), and it was questioning her wardrobe choice. At least the girl was covered up. That photo, the girl didn’t know her photo was taken. The other photo was of an elderly woman who shops at that store frequently. The woman, unfortunately, has a notorious physical feature, and people know her because of it. The coworker took her picture, and the woman was looking right at the phone. I don’t think she knew what she was looking at. The photo was posted right on Facebook, and the coworker’s friends were commenting on it, making fun of it, and, in her mother’s case, telling her to knock it off before she would get in trouble.

    I never reported it because this girl can also be a workplace bully, and I found these just when she started to finally leave me alone. She doesn’t seek me out of nowhere, but she would scream at me or others in front of customers if she felt we were doing something wrong. I didn’t need to create waves when the storm was subsiding. Plus, I didn’t learn until just recently how to report things anonymously. Too late now because she has shuttered her Facebook from public view.

  38. Laura*

    I don’t have any advice to offer here. I just want to say that this is just awful, and I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. What a colossal pr*ck that guy is!

  39. Elle-em-en-oh-pee*

    Late to the game again and probably a repeat, but what that man is doing sounds like stalking to me. And workplace is not a public place, HR could make a rule about photographing people without awareness or permission, (I am pretty sure some states have laws against this, just not sure which ones) or disciplined him even without anything on the books, the fact they didn’t, just says they didn’t want to handle this.

    What else don’t they want to handle?

    I am convinced if he does it again and the OP confronts him, she will be casting the die, and possibly not in her favor. HR sounds lazy and would likely brand her the troublemaker or harasser.

    OP blow this popsicle stand, the sooner the better.

    I really wish I knew the name of the company that allowed this to happen. I would boycott them and tell everyone in my family to do the same.

    1. Jamie*

      I think it’s ridiculous behavior and it’s a shame that the pic taker hasn’t been held accountable, thus far, but I wouldn’t consider it stalking.

      To me stalking is going out of one’s way to follow someone, run into them, keep tabs on them and it wasn’t mentioned that this is happening…he’s being a total jag when he runs into the OP and taking the pics, but that’s being an opportunistic jerk and not stalking, imo.

      1. Elle-em-en-oh-pee*

        Good Day Jamie, says Wikipedia on “Stalking”:

        “Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. The word stalking is used, with some differing meanings, in psychology and psychiatry and also in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offense.

        According to a 2002 report by the National Center for Victims of Crime, “Virtually any unwanted contact between two people [that intends] to directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can be considered stalking”[1] although in practice the legal standard is usually somewhat stricter.”

        This man is also treading on “hate crime” territory (Wikipedia):

        “In both crime and law, hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes, or race hate) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group. Examples of such groups include but are not limited to: racial group, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender identity.[1]”

        Neither have a precise definition, but again neither say anything about it having to happen as a series or more than once either.

        People who have no compunction about engaging in such behavior to begin with, perhaps are lacking in other areas as well of the brain as well. The OP said she had no idea this was happening until it was brought to her attention, this man has proven he can operate under the radar, this letter was very alarming to me, I mean what else has he been doing that he hasn’t yet been busted for?

        The OP is very brave, if I found out someone was doing this to me I would be very afraid, and pursuing all channels before something else happened. “Wait-and-see, he might be harmless” attitude doesn’t fly after getting caught doing something like that (not that I think that is what you or anyone else is suggesting here, btw), and we already know the company who has a legal obligation to protect its workers, at the very least has a skewed view about this affair.

        Sorry but you read about these types escalating to violence all the time, and there is always “the signs were all there, but nobody did anything about it” laments on the news after the fact.

        My point is this company needs to wake up. This isn’t just their in house policy that they can write, enforce, or ignore as they see fit. The OP VERY LIKELY has legal recourse against the man and the company, and she needs to continue looking into it for her own safety, and use what she can to protect herself.

  40. KellyK*

    I don’t have any advice beyond what’s already been offered, but I did want to say that it’s horrible that this jerk is doing this and getting away with it, and I hope your company deals with it appropriately.

  41. Joshua*

    In the spirit of completely demolishing this jerk , if he took the photos with his mobile phone and uploaded them straight to facebook, without editing them in any way between… He’s likely done for. The photos will be clearly marked in the eXIF data. If you know the FB address and can locate one of he photos, or download the original and then upload it to the link below, you can see the eXIF on the file(s).

    Happy hunting.

  42. Joshua*

    Just to clarify the above, eXIF should give you date, time, make and model of phone, various settings, and sometimes “Author” depending on the phone model.

    If you know the guy was at work, has that model of phone, and has demonstrated intent, tot he point that HR has spoken to him about it, that’s “corpus delecti” in my book.

  43. drjaime*

    I’m feeling sick to my stomach and totally revolted by the outrageously egregious, disrespectful, sociopathic, traumatic situation that you have been experiencing. I’m a pretty laid back, mindfulness-oriented person (and a psychologist) and I want to punch this guy in the face. Not really. But I also would love to have a few words with this HR dept nonsense. On the positive side, your boss sounds terrific and you have been a serious champ throughout this situation – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’d also like to request that you send in an update to AAM about how this all shakes out. Good luck. Keep your head held high.

  44. Nancy*

    Why hasn’t anyone asked why the guy is on his personal cell phone during work hours? Really? Shouldn’t he be spending his work time doing what they are paying him for, ie; doing his job, working, instead of posting on a social media with his personal cell phone or worse is he posting using a company device, or company reimbursed device?
    And the HR Dept condones this? Really?

  45. Steve*

    This is close to the worst HR dept Ive ever heard of but not #1! I was talking to the HR dept at a local hospital near where I live, seeking some sexual harrassment training materials I could borrow. They were unaware that this training is now required and when I mentioned the EEOC, she actually asked what that was!

  46. Deanna*

    Your response: Additionally, it sounds like the OP has good coworkers who have been behind her on this. That’s not nuthin’.
    Could you have given ANY hint that anyone was behind me? I think you were trying to break me. Did you enjoy my stomach being stressed out and listening to me fart? Oh that had to be fun. thanks for having Paul Hauck tell me it was okay to fart in that room prior to my colonoscopy – always good to know that it’s okay to let her rip. Yes, the looking up the skirt that my husband tried to complain about that Kurt did when we went for drinks after golfing – no pictures though or “share-sies” on that one – thank God! Some visuals a girl doesn’t need – like up the skirt of another girl. Well, some sexual harassment training would be nice for some too goofy to know better. Seriously that mobile medical unit that comes by – I’ve often wondered if a few of them who wander out there go in and get partial lobotomies and come back to work. Criminy! Maybe they lure them out to the mothership with candy and then zappo laser beams take part of the brain away – the part that holds common sense or is that in the mind? Let’s conscience, superconcious – how about just conscious or alert? Yes, egregious, sociopathic, traumatic, asshole-ish……that’s it – all of that like a big fat sundae with a cherry on top. well at least I have the peace of mind to know a few were talked to or otherwise. Got it. I also was unaware that I alone can scare women, children and men – man I should be utilizing that skill – never knew I had it until the past few years. Thanks for bringing that to light and to my awareness. Mmm-hmmm.

  47. Phill*

    I suggest you use you height as an advantage and “accidentally” smack him in the……. Well you get the idea. Make it sneeky and make sure to use your height as an advantage so people have to question if they saw anything.

    Theeeeeeeeeeeeen when he makes a complaint about this, simply state it was not you, then when he brings up the fact that you did it and got away with it because of your size I would then sight that as discrimination and deal with it that way.

    People like the one you describe deserve none of your sympathy . Take him down!

  48. Sam Coen*

    I would find an attorney and personally sue the individual and your company for sexual harassment. A male employee taking pictures of a female employee at waste level looking up is definitely construed to imply both a sexual interest, in which you have explicitly and implicitly expressed your discomfort, and therefore sexual harassment. Furthermore, this individual is taking pictures of you without your permission and posting them on a public forum, at the place of your employer, and resulting in a mocking fashion of yourself – this is libel and also could be easily seen as sexual harassment.

  49. Diana*

    I think it should be a law to post pictures of you with out your permission. Try to sue face book. That’s invasion of privacy .harassment do they have your permission to put your picture at your job on there web sight. Stop social media . Harassment.

  50. Lynda*

    Sorry to hear this has happened Op. How are you now feeling and anything further happened or been resolved?
    I have just come across this website tonight after being told today that a coworker has videoed me then posted it on snapchat.
    I am in Australia, so I am not sure what rights I have but can I tell you I am so disappointed and upset that someone would do this to me at my work place then ridicule me on snapchat!
    I have read all the comments above and I have thought long and hard about my plan of action. I have decided to diarise this and as someone said above “take the high road”. My workplace always has a drama, and I need to hold my head high, keep being professional and sadly start looking for another role.

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