I walked in on employees having sex — and I think there’s a sex club in my office

A reader writes:

I am the manager of a customer service team of about 10-12 members. Most of the team members are right out of school and this is their first professional job and their ages range from 22-24. I am about 10 years older than all of my employees. We have a great team and great working relationships. They all do great work and we have established a great team culture.

Well, a couple of months ago, I noticed something odd that my team (and other employees in the building) started doing. They would see each other in the hallways or break room and say “quack quack” like a duck. I assumed this was an inside joke and thought nothing of it and wrote it off as playful silliness or thought I perhaps missed a moment in a recent movie or TV show to which the quacks were referring.

Fast forward a few months. I needed to do some printing and our printer is in a room that can be locked by anyone when it is in use (our team often has large volumes of printing they need to do and it helps to be able to sort things in there by yourself, as multiple people can get their pages mixed up and it turns into a mess). The door had been locked the entire day and this was around noon, and as the manager I have the key to the door in case someone forgot to unlock it when they left. I walked in, and there were two of my employees on the couch in the copier room having sex. I immediately closed the door and left.

This was last week and as you can imagine things are very awkward between the three of us. I haven’t addressed the situation yet because of a few factors: This was during both of their lunch hours. They were not doing this on the clock (they had both clocked out, I immediately checked). We have an understanding that you can go or do anything on your lunch that you want, as long as you’re back after an hour. Also, as you mentioned in your answer last week to the person who overheard their coworker involved in “adult activities,” these people are adults and old enough to make their own choices.

But that’s not the end of the story. That same day, after my team had left, I was wrapping up and putting a meeting agenda on each of their desks for our meeting the next day. Out in broad daylight on the guys desk (one of the employees I had caught in the printing room) was a piece of paper at the top that said “Duck Club.” Underneath it, it had a list of locations of places in and around the office followed by “points.” 25 points – president’s desk, 10 points – car in the parking lot, 20 points – copier room, etc.

So here is my theory about what is going on (and I think I am right). This “Duck Club” is a club people at work where people get “points” for having sex in these locations around the office. I think that is also where the quacking comes into play. Perhaps this is some weird mating call between members to let them know they want to get some “points” with the other person, and if they quack back, they meet up somewhere to “score.” The two I caught in the copier room I have heard “quacking” before.

I know this is all extremely weird. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to write you because of how weird this seems (plus I was a little embarrassed). I have no idea what to do. As I mentioned above, they weren’t on the clock when this happened, they’re all adults, and technically I broke a rule by entering the copier room when it was locked, and would have never caught them if I had obeyed that rule. The only company rule I can think of that these two broke is using the copier room for other purposes, preventing someone else from using it.

I would love to know your opinion on this. I tend to want to sweep it under the rug because I’m kind of a shy person and would be extremely embarrassed to bring it up.


The bad news is that I think you’re really, really off-base in how you’re looking at this.

This is not at all like last week’s letter about the coworker who had sex in a private hotel room after work hours. This is people having sex in the office while people around them are working. It’s not okay. It doesn’t matter if they were on a break or that the door was locked and you weren’t supposed to walk in. It’s totally, utterly unacceptable, and you absolutely cannot sweep it under the rug.

You don’t need to be able to point to a specific rule in order to be able to say a particular behavior isn’t acceptable. You’ll never be able to think of everything you need a rule for, and you definitely don’t want to work somewhere that attempts that. It’s enough to say that you expect people to behave professionally and exercise common sense. And it’s perfectly acceptable to take people to task — or you know, fire them — for having sex in the office during work hours. (Or outside of work hours, for that matter, but it’s particularly egregious that it was during work hours, with people around.)

You’ve got to talk to them, and very soon. By putting it off, you’re signaling that you’re okay with it. You need to tell them in no uncertain terms that what you saw was unacceptable and never to happen again, and you need to take that sheet you found at the printer and find out what on earth is going on with that — and put a clear and direct stop to it too.

I would call them both into your office and say this: “I should have addressed this with you the day it happened, but I’ve been so shocked that this would happen in our office that I’ve been trying to think about what I can possibly say to you. What I walked in on the other day is unacceptable. You cannot under any circumstances engage in sexual behavior in this office. Doing that during that work day when coworkers are around — regardless of whether or not you were clocked in — is wildly unprofessional, and gives me serious pause about your judgment and professionalism.”

You also need to talk to your other team members, since you have reason to think that people are having sex all over your office. For points.

For points.

But before doing that — and in fact, possibly before talking to the two employees who you caught in the act — you need to talk to your own manager about all of this. This is messed up enough that any good manager would want to know about it and have input into how it’s being handled (or at least be in the loop about how it’s being handled).

I get that you’re embarrassed to have to talk to people about this at all. But you have to. It’s going to be far, far more embarrassing if your manager finds out at some point that you knew about this and said nothing. You will look complicit and you will look like you shared in your staff’s bad judgment.

You also probably need to take a look at who’s on your team, whether they belong there, and what kind of culture is in place that has allowed them to think this is (a) reasonable and (b) something that you wouldn’t notice. It is absolutely true that when you have a team of 10+ people who are all in their first professional job, weird pack behavior can develop. But part of your job as a manager is to shape your culture and your team’s understanding of professionalism. If it’s turned into a sex club, that’s a sign that you need to revisit all of this.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 941 comments… read them below }

  1. TheExchequer*

    I love this blog for so many reasons and stories like these just puts the icing on the cake.

    Yeah, OP, you have to deal with this. A duck sex club. I just can’t even.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yes! Another great (ie outrageously true) letter.

      But also is also so right. LW you desperately need to confront the two you found having sex immediately. I know you want to avoid the embarrassment, but you are completely undermining your authority by not doing anything about it. Sex in the office (even off the clock) is 100% completely firing behavior and for you to pretend it never happened makes you a total pushover.

      I know why you are embarrassed, but remember the embarrassment/awkwardness is caused by the employees and not you. You did nothing wrong except to not confront them immediately.

      Also I think you need to spend some time evaluating your own management style. Are you managing professionally or focused on being their friends or simply avoiding confrontation/embarrassment by only saying nice things and not giving negative feedback? Because trying to blame yourself instead of them as an excuse to avoid the confrontation and not dealing with this immediately is egregious management failure.

      1. NickelandDime*

        I read the letter, and then went back and keyed in on the phrases: “We have a great work culture,” “We’re a great team,” “We have great working relationships.” There’s nothing wrong with that – but I wonder if it has slipped into something very dysfunctional and unprofessional. You can’t be buddy buddy with people you manage. Now these fools, because this went on for so long without it being addressed, think they’ve gotten away with something. And the OP may look bad to their managers for waiting so long to speak up about this. I know they were embarrassed, but there is a lot more at stake than just embarrassment. I wonder if their managers will start to see them as weak and ineffectual, allowing an environment like this to fester.

        1. RMRIC0*

          Dollars to donuts says that our dear leader here is just a little bit older than the team and really, really wants to be the “cool mom” kind of boss. That’s why the first part is so into “culture” and dear leader is hemming and hawing about calling people out for blatantly bad behavior.

          1. Liane*

            “… their ages range from 22-24. I am about 10 years older than all of my employees.”

          2. Rose*

            That’s pretty harsh. Not every person over 30 is trying to act 22. She wrote that they had s great team and all do great work. Talking about “quacking” with people you manage is incredibly awkward and not normally part of a managerial role. This is so outside of the realm of what managers should need to do. Of course she froze.

      2. The IT Manager*

        Also remove the locks from all semi-public office doors immediately!

        There’s no reason that your copier room door needs a lock. If someone needs to sort, they can sort and tell someone who walks in that now’s not a good time. The locking door is entirely unnecesary.

        1. NickelandDime*

          It makes me wonder who suggested that door lock – when and why. The reason for the lock seems contrived.

          1. fposte*

            And why the OP isn’t allowed to enter if it’s locked.

            (My guess is that it that neither the lock on the door nor the sofa on the room were part of a copy-room plan, but rather these are just the way things happened.)

            1. Sadsack*

              Yeah, who has a sofa in a copy room? I have never seen a set up like this in 25 years of working. Typically, a copy room has tables or counter tops, not seating!

          2. Lontra Canadensis*

            Agreed – I can understand (or imagine) issues with sorting print jobs, especially if there’s multiple files involved; but the solutions should be things like a post-it on the printer if you need to step away while a job is printing, signing out printer time, software lockout of the print queue, etc. If printer noise is a problem, then get a glass door or at least one with a window in it. I just can’t come up with scenario where a locked no-window door is appropriate for a typical business, even if confidential information is involved.

            1. Laufey*

              I can think of one. At companies of certain sizes, there needs to be a private room for nursing/pumping females, at least in certain US states. If the copy room doubles as there, it would explain both the sofa and the lock.

                1. Kassy*

                  I got thrown into various supervisors’ offices before we finally moved to a new building with an empty room for that purpose. I agree a joint copy room/lactation room is a bad plan, but it would still be better than that.

              1. Observer*

                That would be a REALLY bad idea, although I can see a lot of companies doing that. However, that’s not what the official reason was about – it was supposedly put there to allow people to sort large jobs.

              2. Witty Nickname*

                That would explain the rule about never unlocking the door if you know someone is in there as well. My company has dedicated pumping/medical needs rooms (it’s mainly for pumping, but if you have a bad headache and need to sit in the dark until your advil kicks in, you could use the room for that for example), but in our old location, the only available space was in a file room. There were a lot of times that I needed to grab a file so I could help a customer I was on a call with, but couldn’t because someone was in there pumping. (This was before everything was paperless, so while there would be some minimum notes in our systems, I needed the actual hard copies of contracts, info, etc).

                I knew if the door was locked, I’d just have to wait. Nobody would ever EVER unlock the door.

                1. Cassie*

                  We have a student who needed a room to pump – originally she was going to use the staff lounge (HR sent out an email to staff saying that the lounge would be unavailable at these times) but some staff complained. So she ended up using an empty office. She puts up a sign that says “room unavailable” when she’s in there (other staff members sometimes go in there to get files).

            2. Emily*

              I’ve been in a lot of copy rooms without any windows and with doors that lock, not by deliberate plan or design, but because the space used to be used for something else, like storage or supplies, or maybe whoever built the building just happened to have a bunch of locking doorknobs and nobody ever thought, “we should change this knob to discourage employees from having sex in here for duck points.” Because nobody ever plans for that!

              1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                And, as Alison said, you do not want to work for a company that does plan for that.

                1. Emily*

                  Good point!

                  All I’m saying is, let’s not fault the door’s hardware. It sounds like these people would find a place to have sex whether or not the copy room door has a lock on it. It shouldn’t fall to the OP or upper management or facilities management to pick up this much slack in employee’ judgement/decorum/ethics.

              2. Rose*

                “We should change this knob to discourage employees from having sex for duck pounts”


          3. dawbs*

            I read it as possibly running printings of something confidential.

            For example, if I were to run copies of the departmental final for a certain class, at my workplace, I could easily be printing them for an hour or 2, to have enough for all the classes. There is no way in heck I’d print them/copy them someplace without a lock–especially not one that is within reach of students or even student workers. If I trusted all my co-workers 100% (I don’t, but pretend I did), there’s the whole ‘appearance of impropriety” that can happen if people have reason to think this was visible to all of the staff.

            I can picture something like that requiring a secured copy room in business as well

            1. Judy*

              Well, we use “private printing” where the printer doesn’t start printing our job until we log in to the printer. Of course, I’ve never worked where we make 100 copies of a 20 page document, it’s usually just my one copy of a document.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                We have one by the window. You’d have to wait until the middle of the night to have sex on it, but I wouldn’t even dare, because what if someone were working late? Anyone could come around the corner and see you.

          1. blushingflower*

            This is a stretch, but I can envision a situation where one is routinely printing large batches and wants to be near the machine (to deal with any jams or issues or for confidentiality reasons) but wants somewhere to sit.
            But I would not at ALL be surprised to learn that other employees are abusing that couch. Even if they’re not using it for sex, I am sure that there are folks who nip in there and lock the door and take a nap.
            (and it might be fine for folks to take naps while they are clocked out, but if you are tying up a company resource that other people might need in order to do so, that is unprofessional and inappropriate)

        2. brownblack*

          This is the detail that makes me suspect, very strongly, that this letter is a fake. “I broke the rule against going into the copy room?” What is that? It’s a “rule” to lock the copy room just because people tend to do big jobs and need to concentrate? That’s off the wall.

      3. Vicki*

        My thoughts exactly.

        It doesn’t matter that they “clocked out”. They were in the COPY ROOM. At Work. During working hours.


        Also, take the lock off that door – now. A copy room does not need a lock. If someone is in the middle of making a bunch of copies, they can put up a notice and go back to their desk and work. Or stand and watch the copier. (Although that doesn’t sound productive). But a LOCK? To prevent multiple people from making copies?

      4. RFM*

        I cannot even believe that the LW hasn’t acted on this. Your subordinates are having sex on the workfloor and engaging in “sex for points” type of activities. Your career at this company will be over if HR finds out you didn’t report this the instant you found out. Also, the sexual activities for points thing is not all that rare (with teenagers, not adults), but there are always people pushed to do things they don’t want to.

        My friend went on an exchange trip to Brazil and her host family’s daughter tried to force her to do something like this. When she refused, the daughter and her friends left the party they’d taken her to and didn’t bring her along, so she had to find her own way to the host house without money. And then she ended up being sexually assaulted by a taxi driver.

        (There’s a comment way down on this page from a guy that would respect his friends and “consider them legends” if they did what the LW’s team is doing and got away with it. Apparently there are adults out there who do not realise how terrible this is. It’s not a matter of sex in the office, it’s a matter of showing you’re not fit to have a professional job. It shows you’re not mature enough for even an entry-level job. It shows you should still be in high school and get that stuff punished out of you.)

    2. INTP*

      I love this blog for stories like this. I hate it for making me lol at my desk like a crazy woman.

      I think Alison covered everything except that I would also stop allowing people to lock themselves in rooms for privacy. Instead ask them to respect each other’s requests to have the space to themselves when necessary.

      1. DMented Kitty*

        Or if they absolutely have to have a lock — change the door to one of those that have a peep-through window. Or an entirely glass door (and if the contents of the copier is somewhat confidential, maybe frost the glass somewhat)?

        We have “highly confidential” work areas in our building, but the windows to these offices have a frosted design such that I can see people working in the area but won’t see much of their work exposed.

        That said, I’m not really pointing fingers at having locked rooms because if these people want to do their “deed”, the place won’t matter (except for the stupid points). If you remove the locks to the printer room what’s to say they’re not going to do it somewhere else instead? Best to nip it in the bud.

        1. Average Joe*

          Yeah, I’d say that since the president’s desk was listed as a location, and not really worth all that many points(would most likely have to be done sometime late at night), that they are regularly doing it there as well. I mean, 25 points for the president’s desk, 20 for the couch in a locking room? They have to be considering both of them near the same challenge to do and not get caught to be worth nearly the same points

          That said, this really needs to be nipped in the bud now. Imagine that the president had to come into the office some night and found some of your staff doing the deed on his desk, and he found out that you knew about it and didn’t do anything. You would bounce for how quickly and how far they would throw you out as well probably.

    3. RFM*

      I know this happens a lot with teenagers, but at work? What are they thinking? And they’re not even being subtle about it – quacking in the halls and having a list with places and points in the broad daylight?

      I’m sorry, LW, but you need to fire these people and get yourself a new team, stat. This is unacceptable and they need to learn this before they find themselves in senior positions taking advantage of their subordinates.

    4. JHS313*

      If it works, then it is unconventionally a team building thing and as long as no one is offended or hurt by any of it..and the casual way sex is handled these days, people are rarely hurt in these ‘game’ situations. Then turn the other cheek except for the presidents desk..thats what brings me here..an employee I specifically told could not bring his girlfriends into my office after hours and have sex with them, did and after installing a camera (legal in my site) pretty much have a porn of the two in action. He’s being called in on Sunday and fired..for one he doesn’t do shit around the office but the big one – he disrespected me. I should sell his ‘porn’ to help pay for his unemployment and other termination benefits.

      1. JustAnotherTeapot*

        Wow JHS313..everything about your answer is so wrong! Line. by. line. So wrong! Except the firing.. although ‘disrespecting’ you by having sex isn’t the main issue. If you’ve been keeping a person around who ‘doesn’t do shit’ around the office then that’s not just an employee issue, it’s a bad manager issue (you).

        Bottom line, fire him and get some management training for yourself. God, you sound like a nightmare to work for.

  2. Carrie in Scotland*

    Wow. Colour me surprised…and all the other colours of the rainbow.

    Please, please may we have an update on this?

    1. SJP*

      Seconded, I’d frickin’ LOVE an update on this and what, if anything, they have to say in their defence because it might be a classic with what they come out with.

      Just, holy moly!

        1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

          I thought AMG meant: Purify it all with fire.

          Both work. And are valid.

      1. Traveler*

        For sure – anyone part of this “duck list nonsense”. The sex in the office aside, what sort of immaturity does it take to create a duck club, list points, and quack at each other?? I just… mind blown. I want this letter to be fake, though I assume its not since it sounds like a regular reader, because I can’t wrap my mind around the idea that there are enough people at one office place that thought this was a good idea and are willing to participate.

        1. Carrie*

          Yes, that’s what I was thinking. This is just nuts. I can’t even understand…..but yes, to echo everyone else, fire them and please send updates.

        2. TrainerGirl*

          If I hadn’t worked at a Fortune 100 company back in college and seen things exactly like this, I might believe the letter was fake. Because I was 19 and that was my first corporate experience, I thought all companies operated like that. From the manager (married) dating a supervisor who had the supervisor’s car (which the manager was paying for) repossessed in the company parking lot after they broke up, to the (married) manager dating two different supervisors (one married, one with a BF) and the BF coming into the office to beat the manager up on company time, that group was a soap opera on steroids. After I graduated and got a job in a more normal environment, it was almost a letdown not to have that kind of daily workplace drama.

      2. Armchair Analyst*

        Yes, you need to fire EVERYONE, soon, because if not the story will become a legend and part of the culture – “Oh, man, you should have seen it back in the day when the manager was cool and people just had sex everywhere… now they’d never stand for that because 8 out of the 10 of us are gone but you’re here, new hire, so PASS IT ON!”

        Just, fire everyone ASAP.

      3. arjumand*

        LOL at number 1. That was definitely the first thing to come to my mind.

        In fact, I was composing a little ditty to accompany said firing: “Fired, you’re so fired . . .” That’s when I ran out of ideas.

    2. Jenster*

      Agree with everyone else here….it’s just so incredibly ridiculous. Definitely need an update on this.

    1. grasshopper*

      But seriously, there is no reason to have the printer/copy room door lock, nor for any meeting rooms to lock. It is possible to sort papers without locking people out of a room.

      1. AnonymousaurusRex*

        +1 I’d take the lock off that door immediately, or turn it into one where you need a key on either side. I can’t think of any reason this should be a door that is lockable from the inside.

          1. Cautionary tail*

            Taking the door off is easiest. The hinges can be popped with a screwdriver in under a minute.

        1. Mike B.*

          A key on either side, so it’s possible to lock people in? I don’t think that’s viable in an office.

          1. sstabeler*

            I’m 99% sure there are locks that only lock the door one way- that is, it’s locked if you want to go in, but if you want to leave, you can. if the door HAD to have a lock, that could work.

      2. Caroline*

        I’ve heard of places where a meeting room gets temporarily assigned as a lactation room when an employee needs one, in which case I can see putting a lock on it. But yes, other than places where people are supposed to be vulnerably undressed (the bathroom, a lactation room and nowhere else! Okay, maybe a locker room or showers if you have a gym but since that’s shared you wouldn’t lock it), I can’t see why a room needs to lock in an office.

        1. Caroline*

          Okay, maybe some higher ups’ offices too. I can see locking the president’s door, say, but that should be so employees don’t have access when they aren’t invited, not so they can have sex there.

        2. CharonPDX*

          At our work, we have a “privacy room” – but it is right off the lobby, and only the receptionist/guard has the key, that you need to check out from him/her.

          Yeah, a lock on a copier room – and a couch in a copier room! – makes no sense. We have all sorts of nice “informal” meeting rooms, break rooms, even a video game room with a couch. But not the copier room. And the lock?

          Even lawyers offices and accountants offices don’t have locks on copier rooms – and they have every reason to need privacy for documents. You’re just expected to get your private documents quickly and take care of them quickly.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I can’t help but think that maybe they put the sofa in there because there was nowhere else to put it. It’s possible–the one(s) we have on our floor came from a room they had been stored in that was needed for something else. So they put them in our space.

        3. Boop*

          I work in an HR office, and our file room has a lock. Personnel files contain very sensitive information! We also lock our desk cabinets every night, and put all files away before we leave. So I understand why some doors need to be locked in an office. However, it is a little weird to lock a copy room.

        4. blushingflower*

          I work at an organization that handles a LOT of confidential information. Most of it is digital, but it is occasionally hard copy. We all have locks on our office doors for that reason. I mostly use mine if I am changing in my office and don’t want anyone to accidentally walk in (some people are confused about knocking, or if it is late enough housekeeping may not know I’m in there). I also have coworkers who keep their doors locked because they keep a stash of their prescription medication in their desk, and that medication has a high street value (I keep a stash of my meds in my desk too, but they have no street value, so I am less concerned). Bottom line, if you have offices instead of cubicles, there can be a lot of valuable information or objects that need to be secured. Yes, you can secure them in locking file cabinets or other ways without locking the door, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have locking office doors (having said that, I don’t think any of our conference or meeting rooms have locking doors).

  3. Anoners*

    Wowsers. That’s intense. Also, if you change the first letter of Duck in “Duck Club” it all makes sense.

        1. Anoners*

          I am Canadian so that would be appropriate. Maybe the LW is in Canada and misinterpreted what those two kooky kids were up to!

    1. Kelly L.*

      Yup. Duck is autocorrect for F*ck. Not saying this is a literal autocorrect, but it became a common joke because of autocorrect.

      1. Althea*

        That was my thought, too – since smart phones became popular, a lot more people are “ducking” and exclaiming “duck!” than ever used to.

        1. Zillah*

          It’s an autocorrect that never made sense to me. I’d bet a lot of money that people use “f*ck” and “f*cking” a lot more than they use “duck” and “ducking.” WTH is ducking, anyway?

      2. Panda Bandit*

        Using duck in place of the other word was pretty common before autocorrect existed.

    2. AyBeeCee*

      Buck club, they’re all into investing and making wise financial decisions. The quacking just helps them be mindful of their spending habits and support each other.

    3. Laufey*

      Muck Club. For all the mud aficionados. They quack because they have to go out in the rain to study it.

    4. Jon in the Nati*

      Ruck Club. Fan club of actor Alan Ruck, best known for playing Cameron in the classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

    5. Jennifer*

      There are a lot of ducks by my office and we periodically see duck gang rapes on the lawn.

      So my idea of “duck club” is probably even worse, actually.

      1. Jamie*

        There is a reason they don’t use ducks to teach sex ed…I was thinking this through the whole thread. Real ducks have pretty horrifying sex lives.

  4. Apollo Warbucks*

    What the duck Wednesday!

    I can’t even get my head around the OP thinking they don’t need to address this and in fact thinking they did something wrong by entering the print room.

    1. Elysian*

      Right? I know that AAM says she doesn’t like WTF Wednesdays… but when you put a letter like this on Wednesday morning… oh my.

        1. einahpets*

          I actually made it to here in the comments (a day behind on my blogs) before getting water up my nose. Thanks a lot.

      1. neverjaunty*

        It’s time for AAM to just give up and realize that the universe has decreed that WDT Wednesdays are a thing ;)

    2. Apostrophina*

      As someone who recently ended up working on a holiday in part because I innocently inquired about things that had been in various versions of a document for *years*, resulting in my office’s version of an avalanche, at the moment I’m very familiar with the “If I’d just done what I always do, this never would have happened!” self-recrimination.

      The OP’s situation, though, still needs to be addressed in a hurry.

    3. TheLazyB*

      First post to make me LOL. My 3 yo asked me what I was laughing at. Hard to explain, son.

    4. Observer*

      I can’t even get my head around the OP thinking they don’t need to address this and in fact thinking they did something wrong by entering the print room.

      This. I mean really!? A manager is not “allowed” to interrupt someone who is supposedly sorting a print job?

      OP, Allison is absolutely right. You REALLY need to rethink your management style.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, start with who is in charge here. It is not your embarrassment to wear, OP. Stop wearing it. They put you in an awkward spot. It’s totally on them.

        1. JeanB*

          I know you probably won’t see this but I absolutely love “this is not your embarrassment to wear”!

    5. Traveler*

      I wondered if it wasn’t wishful thinking on the OP’s part. Who really wants to have this awkward conversation with 10 employees, two of which you’ve seen mid performance? Managers have to have tough conversations, but right now I’m thankful that I never had to have this conversation.

  5. The Office Admin*

    Ahhh, WTF Wednesday.
    Not that it exists, but if it did…
    I have nothing to add, I’m sorry OP, I’m still gaping at the quacking and the point systems.
    Where/how do people think of this?? This sort of thing isn’t even on my radar!

      1. TCO*

        If Alison really wants to squash the idea of WTF Wednesday, she needs to quit publishing these wild letters on Wednesdays!

        1. NYCRedhead*

          In her defense, there’s probably a letter every day that makes me say “WTF!?” (or now, WTD!?)

        2. Koko*

          When she publishes the crazy letters on other days, there’s always someone in the comments saying, “Wow, is it secretly Wednesday?” or something similar. Can’t win!

    1. Fuzzy*

      We had this sort of thing in my high school youth group.

      Places were worth certain points. People were worth certain points. “Activities” were worth certain points.

      It was a lot of fun (and super gross) for teenagers. Not adults, and certainly not in the work place!

      1. Chinook*

        “We had this sort of thing in my high school youth group.”

        I am glad to know I am not the only one who can from some ducked up place where that happenned. Though I still haven’t figured out which was worse – being someone you could make points with or never making the list in the first place.

    2. Courtney*

      Right. A points system? Now I want to ask more questions but also don’t want to ask questions. Do they share scores “Dawn has total of 50 points but Julie beat her with 65 points”?

      Sorry. My mind takes off sometimes in wild directions.

        1. Laufey*

          Can’t decide if it would be a penalty to failing to successfully complete the task, or if inadvertent voyeurism warrants a bonus.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I would think more points if you managed to complete the act after being caught. Interruptions where you have to stop would lose you points.

            If I were playing, that is. Not that I’m playing!

      1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

        Dawn has three times as many points as Julie, but Julie has accomplished twice the tasks that Dawn has accomplished. Using the points total for each Duck task, derive how many points Dawn and Julie have each earned for quacks. Show your work.

      2. Traveler*

        And how do they verify points? Couldn’t a couple of them just band together and lie about what they’ve done if they don’t have any witnesses?

        1. Person of Interest*

          Please, there’s an honor code for the sex in the office game. Lying about points would be disrespectful to everyone.

  6. Snarkus Aurelius*

    It’s official: you are now part of the problem. Your silence, discomfort, and avoidance allow them to do what they’re doing literally right under your nose.

    If you don’t get ahold of this now, like AAM suggests, your bosses are going to question your judgment and management skills.

    AAM was too nice. I’d have fired those two and confronted everyone else in that list.

    1. Artemesia*

      Me too. The two caught should have been fired on the spot. This is not a subtle nuanced situation; this is grotesque disrespect for the office and a giant duck you to the manager.

      And doing it late is better than never. At minimum the ‘I was shocked that you would do this plus clear outline of being essentially on probation’ is required. I’d make the probation status formal if you go that route. Believe me the rest of the ‘Duck Club’ is waiting for your decision on this and if you don’t get ahold of this office culture, you are the one who will be ducked.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        this is grotesque disrespect for the office and a giant duck you to the manager

        I see what you did there!

        Seriously, though, I’m shocked those two weren’t fired on the spot.

        Also, OP, bear in mind that not only will your manager likely question your judgment if you don’t address this, but you’ll probably be pretty ineffective as a manager in the future for this group. I mean, would you take any performance issues or other constructive criticism you received from a manager who completely ignored this seriously? If the manager isn’t going to fire you for having sex in the office, is there really any reason to think any other performance issues are going to get you kicked out?

        1. Snarkus Aurelius*

          I wouldn’t fire the OP, but I’d seriously rethink having this person in a management position. The first instinct was to check time sheets?!?! Self blame for waking in on them?

          I’d probably ask, “What would it take to get fired in your world?” No sarcasm. I swear.

          I’m honestly trying to think of s character that managed people but all the employees walked all over him/her. Sam Malone maybe?

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            I made this comment on the fly, but now I really do want to know: OP, what DO you consider a fireable/disciniplary action?

            I can’t stop wondering.

          2. Alma*

            I’m concerned about the OP in a management position as well. S/he has been just floating on the surface, assuming all of his/her ducks are in a row, when in fact THEY ARE. The OP has not a clue about this office’s “culture” and his/her supervisors are going to question how OP could not have delved a little deeper when odd behavior was noticed.

            Why didn’t OP knock on the copier room door when it had been locked all day??? Why didn’t OP stop someone and ask about “cluck cluck” behavior that is out of place in a work environment? Even in kindergarten, the teacher would’ve put a stop to the clucking immediately. OP may be duck out of luck.

            Holy Hannukah Balls!!

      2. Pineapple Incident*

        Definitely. Now is the time to make a statement that this is completely unacceptable in any context. Your private life is your own, despite how weird it is to have this kind of game going on with coworkers off company property/worksite AND off the clock. But when you’re on company property, this stuff should absolutely NEVER.happen.ever. Firing is the first and only step, and make sure to explain clearly all of the reasons why this is so inappropriate. Behavior even remotely this horrible is grounds for termination and should not be a secret- these people clearly have very poor judgement.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I would have axed them, too. Or considered telling them to take the rest of the day off and report for a meeting first thing in the morning.
        I think experience makes a difference. If you are not used to stumbling across “stuff” at work then you don’t have an automatic reaction. OP, will from here, forward!
        OP, just make up your mind right now that no one is ever going to catch you off guard again.
        A good multi-purpose statement to have available is “That is NOT appropriate in the workplace!” Keep that sentence with you, it’s fits a lot of situations. And it buys you a second or two to figure out what your next words/action.

        1. Womble*

          “Get out of the building, right now. No, you may not stop to pick up your clothes. Walk. NOW.”

    2. Shell*

      Hell yes. I’m pretty sure “having sex on the premises” is reasonable grounds to be fired immediately.

      1. Prismatic Professional*

        I will definitely do this if it ever comes up at my work! Now I’m prepared…

    3. Barney Stinson*

      If I had walked in on that, I wouldn’t have shut the door and left. I would have been all, “OH NO YOU DON’T” and given them one minute to collect themselves and march right to my office, where they could sit while I gathered up the HR people.

      And then we’d have walked in to find them collecting 20 points on my desk.

      And then I would have fired them.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I managed not to laugh until I got to the collecting points on your desk. I’m betting they’d have been too upset to do so, but I’m STILL laughing.

      2. DBAGirl*

        I don’t think a manager can do anything else (maybe fire them the next day?) and hope to maintain any credibility at all.

        This is a “club”. All the other members know what 2 of them “got away” with. Maybe even got bonus points for.

        OP, better late than never. And loop your manager in ASAP, I think you are are on very thin ice here. I hope you learn something from this.

      3. Liane*

        I strongly suggest that you loop in building maintenance, to make sure your entire office, especially the desk, is sterilized after the manager/co-ducks/HR meeting.

  7. Dani X*

    wow… and I feel weird changing into my gym clothes in my private office with the door closed! I can’t even….

  8. Cleopatra Jones*

    Wow, I thought the ‘CEO’s & hoes’ letter from last year was pretty bad but this…

    Yeah, this needs to stop now. It would be bad enough if it were just one couple having sex in random places around the office but this is a whole group of people doing this. Shut this down NOW!

  9. matcha123*

    Well, I hope that you at least took out the couch and burned it. I wouldn’t want to work in an office where I had to wonder about whether or not people’s fluids were in places they shouldn’t be. You might want to burn your office to the ground to be safe.

    But seriously, isn’t this something that would get you fired? There’s no excuse for that kind of behavior.

    1. Paige Turner*

      Burning the office to the ground sounds totally reasonable given the circumstances.
      Seriously, though, there is not enough brain bleach to get over this or to have a normal working relationship with these people again.

    2. Jaune Desprez*

      I worked in one office where a very pregnant employee had gone into labor at her desk. The upholstered chair she’d been sitting in when her water broke was subsequently inflicted on whoever the newest person in the department was for several years afterward.

      1. Nashira*

        Oh god no. It should have been destroyed. Not because I’m afraid of girl cooties but dang, that’s a whole lot of icky fluids.

        1. Jaune Desprez*

          It was a state agency, and management was very big on Responsible Stewardship of Taxpayer Resources, as well as Not Diverting Funds from Our Core Mission.

          They swore the chair had been cleaned, but the seat was one huge, mottled stain…

            1. LJL*

              Not really. If the local media had gotten ahold of that “gross misuse of taxpayer dollars,” someone would have been canned. I’m not kidding. It would have played as “your taxes are going to reupholster office furniture. Local News Team, working for you to uncover wasteful spending of YOUR money.”

      2. BananaPants*

        Good lord, that’s awful. OSHA considers amniotic fluid (among a variety of other non-blood bodily fluids) as potentially-infectious and requiring precautions similar to those taken to protect against bloodborne pathogens. The chair should have been professionally cleaned, if not destroyed.

        Amniotic fluid has a distinct smell that lingers in soaked fabric (I know this firsthand from a TMI experience during my induction with my first baby). Ugh, I’m cringing just thinking about it.

      3. Bend & Snap*

        My mom worked for a government agency for years, and someone she was counseling brought Her kid, who pulled down his pants and pooped in an office chair. My mom ended up removing it with a slotted spoon from the kitchen.

        1. Jean*

          >With a slotted spoon from the kitchen?!
          Why slotted?! And was it returned to the kitchen after Mission Accomplished?
          I mean, like wow man, TOTAL barf.

          1. DMented Kitty*

            Mom didn’t bring Son’s litter box, you see… And she does need to scoop the litter.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    It’s letters like this that make me really thankful for my only-slightly-dysfunctional office.

    OP – you’ve got to get a handle on this, NOW. Frankly, the two people you caught in the act should be fired, if not severely disciplined – that will set an example for anyone else involved in this. Anyone with the “duck club” list – fired. This is so far beyond appropriate – I’d have no qualms about immediately firing anyone involved. They’re clearly not respecting their jobs, the office, or you.

    Also, no more locking doors – there’s no need for that. Doors stay open. There’s no need for closed doors in copier rooms.

    Finally, Alison, I’m still going to believe WTF Wednesday is sort of a thing :D

    1. UKAnon*

      Just the sheer scale of upheaval alone, and particularly when combined with the OP’s reticence (which, by the way, I completely sympathise with OP; I would have been floored too!) makes me wonder if it’s the sort of office culture where OP can loop their manager in right now. I’ve known places which would go both ways – one where the extent of your job on your own is to report this and help plan to manage it, others where you’d be expected to deal with it solo – but if you’re getting rid of potentially up to 12 staff I would think management would have some questions… Having them on board now might help in all sorts of ways.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Not only that and I’m surprised nobody has mentioned it but the liability implications here are beyond huge. Can you imagine the day where a duckette accuses a ducker (hehe) of going over a line or giving her an std? Or how about when some ducky gets hurt when they fall off the couch and hit their head on the copier?

          1. Liane*

            Might depend on the country or (in USA) administrative judge hearing the appeal. I seem to remember reading about a case somewhere (New Zealand? Australia?) where it was ruled a woman was entitled to such benefits for injuries sustained in a hotel bed, after work hours, with a companion. The pair’s enthusiasm caused a reading lamp to fall of the wall & hit the worker.

            1. AnonAussieLawyer*

              T’was us in ‘Straya.

              She was in a work supplied hotel room during a work trip when a lighting fixture was pulled off the wall or otherwise fell and severely injured her face/head.

              Unfortunately the decision of the Federal Court to provide her with compensation was overturned by the High Court very recently. I can’t help but wonder whether the decision would have been different if she hadn’t been injured in flegrante delicto but say rather slipping over in the shower. But for being there for work, she wouldn’t have sustained the serious injury and I wish Kirby J was still on the bench, I would have thoroughly enjoyed reading his dissenting decision on this one!

              1. Liz*

                Agreed! /legal nerd

                A lot of the coverage was quite sensationalist, and overlooked the fact that she really was badly hurt and unable to work for some time. (And then further unable to work because of the stress of the media coverage.) As you say, it might have been different if she hadn’t been engaged in intercourse.

    2. Mike C.*

      No, keep the locked doors, just have them replaced with glass. Then go over to the points sheet and double the prize.

      1. Alma*

        In working environments (counseling professions, social services) where confidentiality or uninterrupted time may be needed, office doors have a clear pane of glass in them. Someone can take a look into the window before knocking on the door – ideally the office holder is visible, and not the other person. It is called a “safe workplace.” The office holder is seen alone, appropriately clothed, not touching anyone else…

        And I guess the OP didn’t notice any used “protective measures” so what if someone gets an STD or pregnant on the job? Line up the lawyers.

        1. Prismatic Professional*

          We cover up the glass panes with paper/translucent material due to privacy concerns of clients.

  11. BRR*

    This reminds me of camp in high school where you could get points but for making out.

    I agree with tell your manager before addressing it at all. I like how you have concern about respecting what your employees do in their personal time but nope…. just nope.

    1. Poohbear McGriddles*

      This one time, at band camp…

      I guess this is one way to get onto one of those “Best Places to Work” lists. To heck with paid leave and high salaries – we get to fornicate for points!

  12. NickelandDime*

    I get attributing SOME unprofessional behavior to inexperience, but getting your swerve on at work isn’t something a normal 20-something right out of college would do. I think the OP should let the powers that be know what they saw and just work on firing these two people immediately. I would not feel bad about it at all. I can’t even imagine what you could say to get through to someone that would pull a stunt like that.

    As for the others…I’d start looking at their work output and professionalism in general. Hard workers don’t engage in this type of behavior.

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, right!? I’m willing to give leeway for all kinds of different standards of morality and professionalism…but there cannot possibly be anyone who thinks sex in the office is acceptable. The fact that they made a points system for the riskiest places to do it leads me to believe they in fact do know that it’s unacceptable, otherwise it wouldn’t be a game.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        If they have time at work to come up with such a game, then firing the two that were caught would:
        1. Put an end to the Duck Club
        2. Give everyone more work to do so they had no more time to even think about Duck Club

        FWIW, OldJob didn’t have such a club, but there were an awful lot of people who were BF/GF or married to each other, so it wouldn’t surprise me if things went on I wouldn’t want to walk in on. One former coworker told a story one day about how she was on her knees giving her BF a BJ under his desk when someone else walked into the office and she had to freeze and hope they didn’t see she was there. Why anyone would tell such a story about themselves to coworkers still escapes me…

    2. Snafu Warrior*


      Also if they thought it was appropriate, there wouldn’t be a point system where you could get more points for *ahem* doing it in certain places.

    3. Anonsie*

      Yeah I don’t know if the ages are just there for context but I feel like they were thrown in as part of the LW’s rationalization about this just being different strokes, you know, young people can be spontaneous and whatever.

      Noooo no no no no.

      1. Gene*

        I was holding it together until “different strokes”.

        Good thing I’m in the office alone today.

      2. there's a hole in my neighborhood down which of late*

        I’m glad OP mentioned the ages. I mean, if this situation is happening, I’d much rather it be happening with young (and, I’d assume, reasonably good looking) people than people *my* age.

        Honestly: this is such an unusual situation that it could well make national news. Somebody needs to write a book about this; this is the kind of thing would almost certainly get optioned by some movie studio.

        1. Jamie*

          They didn’t even write a book about the AAM letter where the co-worker was working as a prostitute on the clock in her work places bathroom – and I’d have ordered an advanced copy of that one!

          1. there's a hole in my neighborhood down which of late*

            I’ve wondered about AAM fanfic. Not sure I’m brave enough to write it, though.

            This whole Duck Club thing would be a good book, though. There’s a (perhaps obvious) twist at the end where OP goes to upper management to turn them in – and discovers too late that everyone in upper management is already a member.

            Oh – or, what if the club rules were like “fuck, marry, kill” so there was a murder element to it, too?

    4. Can Do*

      I too am managing 22-24 year olds and am 10 years older. There is no way I would expect or condone (by inaction) what the OP’s staff have done. This isn’t just about professionalism, it’s about basic human decency. If they had done this in a public space outside of work, off the clock and been caught by the police, I would still have to address this as a manager because my organisation expects a standard of personal behaviour from staff both in and outside of work. I appreciate that the OP has not yet taken action through their own disbelief, but hopefully this thread will put it into perspective and empower him/her to take action. Please let us know how it plays out!

    5. Jake*

      It’s not, but when you put 10 to 12 of them together without an example to look at, things quickly spiral out of control.

      This stuff happens with teenagers and college students constantly, why would we expect it to stop in the early twenties unless they had examples to look at?

  13. Sigrid*

    Yes, OP, you really, really have to deal with this. Not just with the people you caught having sex, but with the group as a whole. Frankly, I’d sit down with each of your direct reports individually and have a private talk about professional behavior in the workplace, because it seems like they bed it. You’d be doing them a favor in the long term – think about what would happen if they switched jobs and tried that kind of thing in their new office.

    1. Prismatic Professional*

      it seems like they bed it.


      Excellent auto correct moment, and if it was on purpose…*applause*

    2. QAT Contractor*

      I do think I could care less about what would happen to them for trying this at a different job. If the OP fires them now, that would be a strong enough signal that they ducked up real bad and should reconsider their stance on how an office operates.

      If they continue to do this at another job then they clearly are not even remotely in line with standards in a work place. It wouldn’t be any of my concern because I would have fired them.

      What should have happened was the OP closes the door after seeing it, then stands there and waits for them to come out and repremands them on the spot for their actions (or fires them). Upon learning about the Duck Club and points sheet, take that to her boss and come up with a plan for addressing it with the whole staff pointing out the first 2 fired as examples.

    3. Alma*

      I think the situation is beyond professionalism in the workplace. It is time for Risk Management to present more than they ever wanted to know about sexual harassment.

  14. Bend & Snap*


    OP, why/how have you sat on this? You should have immediately told your boss and then pulled the offenders in. This is a fireable offense. Like, put your pants on, pack your stuff and get out kind of firing.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      In OP’s defense, some things are so shocking that you have no good response in the moment because you never in a million years expected to have to deal with them. I’m someone who always comes up with a great response a few hours later.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        True, but it sounds like a few days have gone by, not a few hours. It’s been so long that they think they’re in the clear.

      2. Sunshine*

        Yep. This would be me, as well. Any response I offered on the spot would likely involve high levels of screeching. I would need some time to come up with something appropriate.

      3. The IT Manager*

        Yes, but a good manager would take no longer than day to deal with this. Spend the afternoon, evening, and all night not sleeping figuring how to deal with it, looping the boss in, and calling them into the office the next morning and yes, firing, them.

        People get a day to recover from the shock and act appropriately – not weeks.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          This. I can cut the OP some slack for not reacting in the moment, mostly because I can see myself doing the same thing. But I would definitely be addressing it later that day or the next morning.

        2. DBAGirl*

          Precisely. I can see a day to sort through “Did I really see that?” and talking to MY boss and starting that conversation with “I need to fire both of them”.

          No more than that.

      4. cuppa*

        Very true. I think this is certainly one of those situations. However, I wouldn’t be making excuses for accepting this behavior, and that is what is concerning to me about the OP.

  15. fposte*

    This is the first letter where I’ve independently wondered if it’s fiction.

    However, assuming it’s not: “I walked in, and there were two of my employees on the couch in the copier room having sex. I immediately closed the door and left.” Dude. You caught people you manage having sex at work and your response was to pretend you didn’t, rather than a more appropriate response such as “What the hell are you doing? You’re fired!”

    I mean, I can’t think of anything closer to a literal fuck-you to their manager.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I can see being in so much shock that I’d immediately leave the room, in the moment. But I would definitely address it once I composed myself!

    2. Ann without an e*

      Agreed, and lets talk about all the people not participating in this that might have been invited……..this has the potential for a lawsuit.

      Get IT involved, go through their email, get IT to go spy tech on you if need be, round up all the work phones go through and gather all the evidence you need, round up all the participants, and fire them now. For cause, no unemployment this goes on their record. Or eliminate the department lay them all off if you feel like being nice.

      Curious: How many points is your desk worth?

        1. cuppa*

          Very good point. At the very least, appearing to condone this behavior is a sexual harrassment suit waiting to happen.

          1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

            Not to mention, when the CDC gets involved because there’s a syphillis outbreak in your office.

        2. V*

          IAAL. This is a massive sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen and the longer OP waits to address it, the more OP is exposing the company to liability. You may have people feeling pressured to have sex with their co-workers, and/or you may have people excluded from the club (whether by their own choice or because they are not “allowed” in by club members) who perceive they are being treated differently by their co-workers as a result. If management (including OP) is aware that this is going on, the company has even more exposure to liability.

          OP if your company has legal counsel, consult them immediately. If not, the company needs to find an employment lawyer to discuss this. I would do this before firing anyone in case one of the participants felt forced to have sex and then brings a suit for harassment and wrongful termination.

          To be clear, I’m not sure that an employee who sued the company for sexual harassment over this would win, but they definitely have enough to file the suit and drag the company into a legal (and PR) mess.

      1. Jamie*

        What did IT ever do to you? Leave us out of this.

        Seriously though, she’s right. And then make sure to thank IT for having to search for duck related sexual activity. No one is paid enough for this kind of crap.

          1. Jamie*

            You’d think so, but it’s really hard to erase the images from your head once you get the details. Think about all of your co-workers – do you really want those specific mental images popping into your mind unbidden? Trust me on this – strangers on AAM it’s funny. The annoying guy who chews with his mouth open during lunch meetings and the rude woman with too much makeup who always has this face like she’s sniffing something unpleasant from your real workplace…takes the humor right out of it.

            1. Revanche*

              Yeah, I’m still brain bleaching being exposed to something like that in passing by an IT friend 5 years ago. We were employed at different times but I knew the person ze told me about. *shivers*

      2. Jamie*

        In all seriousness here’s a PSA in case anyone reading is wondering what to do should this crazy weird thing happen in the future for them:

        1. Close the door so they can get dressed and have someone notify IT to change their passwords/lock down their access. (Don’t forget to kill remote access as well.)
        2. As soon as the door opens immediately escort them to a private office – no opportunity to go back to their desks/pcs – and importantly no opportunity to talk to their buddies and give them the heads up to start deleting emails, etc.
        3. Flag their personal emails, if known, names, etc for internal email – as once they leave often the first thing done before out of the parking lot is to email people still inside warning them to delete emails or giving them the scoop so everyone can stick to the same story.
        3. Call in whomever you need to deal with this per your policies/chain of command and document contemporaneously. At least HR if you have one.
        4. If you have security cameras pull the tapes and save the footage of them entering and exiting the copy room – handy for the unemployment hearing.
        5. While this is going on IT is digging through their computers for any objective evidence which needs to be saved – also for the unemployment hearings. And if there is evidence to the extent, other times, other people (like the list thing) make a list of what other computers need to be examined. This will take some time, but if others are involved their access needs to be disabled immediately as well.
        6. Escort them back to their desks to get their stuff – give them a box as a courtesy – and walk them to the door.
        7. Deal with any others involved appropriately per their level of involvement. Documenting everything.
        8. If it’s widespread and there is reason to believe this has affected uninvolved co-workers (people skeeved out but without enough proof to go to HR, whatever) find some super diplomatic way of emphasizing the company’s commitment to a good work environment and reiterating whatever reporting structure/whistleblowing policy you have. Do not mention names or specifics – this required tact and diplomacy so I’d personally hand this off to someone with crazy skills in that area.
        9. Call appropriate service to do through cleaning in areas it’s known/suspected to have happened which will assure employees that management cares about contamination. Even if you find out past the time where there is risk it’s a good pr move – because mentally it will weird people out.
        10. Have a well deserved drink for having had to do this.

        1. Observer*

          12. Get yourself to a management coach and figure out how you wound up with such an insane work group.

          1. Jamie*

            Not for the same situation – we don’t even have a copy room. Does make me glad I moved the couch out of my office, though. :)

    3. Paige Turner*

      “This is the first letter where I’ve independently wondered if it’s fiction.”

      I was also going to say this, it’s like a Dear Prudence letter!
      +1 to the rest of the comment, too. This is bananas.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        No, it’s not fiction. I have seen it in work places also. And I have heard some wild stories that were verified by separate people.
        There was a company near me that was famous for this.

        But, it’s no more shocking than the coworkers that smoke pot all day or the coworkers who leave their kids in the car outside all day. I have seen coworkers point their cars at pedestrians, too. My list goes on for a while.

        I have to thank you, Alison for providing a place where we can discuss this type of stuff opening. I have been through too many years of seeing stuff like this and not being able to say anything because the dominate culture ignored the problems. These are the same bewildered people that could not figure out what is wrong with their company. sigh.

        1. fposte*

          Are you talking about sex at work or the actual sex club? The former I’m very familiar with (office ina quiet and carpeted corner of a library for a long time) but the latter is new to me. Not incomprehensible, but new.

          1. I'm a Little Teapot*

            Sex in libraries isn’t uncommon. I’ve never run into it in person (as a patron or a library worker) but there was a remote, well-hidden nook in my college library covered in graffiti boasting about who got laid there, and the professional literature for librarians on dealing with patrons definitely addresses such incidents..

          2. Xarcady*

            The university library I worked in had small “group study rooms” on several floors. The security guards were required to open the door and check on the rooms every hour when they made their rounds.

            Their instructions on what to do if they found two people having sex in the group study room? Check with both people to make sure that a rape isn’t happening, then close the door.

            The rationale for this was that the students (or professors) were consenting adults and the library couldn’t stop them from having sex in the library.

    4. Anonsie*

      This is the first letter where I’ve independently wondered if it’s fiction.

      Same. But also, I guess I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it weren’t.

      1. AloeVera*

        This kind of stuff actually happens. A friend of mine in HR at my current company has had to deal with this (sex clubs) at two companies – her prior and her current (and my current) employer.

    5. Anon For This*

      I’m ditching my usual pseudonym for this comment.

      I had sex on the boss’ desk in my first real job in my early twenties. It wasn’t for points, or with a coworker, or even during regular working hours, but I did it. And I’ve worked in other places where the culture was loose enough that a Duck Club might have been well-received, although by then I would have been too smart to participate.

      I’m old and incredibly respectable now, and very grateful that I was never caught doing any of the ill-considered sh*t I got up to in my twenties.

      1. Also Anon*

        Yeah, I was as horrified by this letter as everyone else. Then I thought back to the days I was the only employee of an independent retail place. We were close friends of the owner and it was a very casual work/unprofessional environment (they would randomly not be able to afford my salary, the owners and our friends would stay after hours, hang out and get drunk etc). And one time when my Husband (then fiancee) was picking me up after I closed down for the night we tried to get some points in a storage closet. It didn’t work out and I am so horrified right now.

        1. Juli G.*

          Yes but these stories both sound like they happened after hours in relatively empty buildings, which is foolish. Not during lunch hour of a regular day which is just reckless and disrespectful.

          1. fposte*

            Or on somebody’s desk.

            I love my staff, and I can’t imagine them doing this. But if I’m wrong and they did and I caught them, I would fire them and cry while I did it.

      2. Traveler*

        Honestly, the sex part is the least concerning to me. It’s the club/points/organized nature of this that I find really crazy.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The club and points and quacking indicates it has been going on for a while and management has been ignoring it for awhile.

          1. Traveler*

            Yes this is not just one time youthful indiscretion or a heat of the moment mistake. There are underlying issues galore.

          2. Blurgle*

            I wonder if the people that didn’t want to be involved have been faced with a hostile work environment.

    6. A Bug*

      I’m not sure if the reference to last week’s hotel letter makes it more believable or less believable. Certainly there are plenty of people who take the wrong message away from a discussion. I could see this being a misapplication of the “what employees do on their own time” principle. But I can also see it as someone who disagreed with the advice on last week’s letter and wanted to prove some imagined hypocrisy by presenting a situation that they consider to be equivalent.

      Either way, the described situation is, unfortunately, a believable one to me. And the OP’s described reaction is understandable for me, as well. I’m a person who has struggled her whole life with figuring out appropriate interpersonal behavior. If I’m presented with a situation that’s sufficiently unexpected, then my first reaction is no reaction, because I haven’t had time to think about what the appropriate reaction would be.

      That said, I’m also fairly confident it wouldn’t take me much time to think about it to come to the conclusion that no, getting it on at work is not okay, break or no. Further, on finding out about Duck Club I’d be on the warpath.

    7. Jennifer*

      I would have burst out into loud cackles of laughter that everyone would have heard, myself.

  16. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Seriously, why would anyone think this is OK? This is like downloading tons of porn on your work computer and saving it on the company network during your lunch break — it’s still an inappropriate use of company resources, one that can interfere with legitimate work, and could result in a loss of business or a lawsuit when discovered. It’s not OK just because it didn’t happen on the clock.

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      As someone who reviews the computer files of people to prepare for litigation, you’d be surprised at how often that actually happens. In cases where that isn’t even the issue!

      1. Prismatic Professional*

        Wait, what? Really? I thought stories like that were the cautionary fairy tales of the work world.

        1. Marmoset*

          Yeah, no, I can second that people do this, and I just work in a run of the mill office… *shudder*

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I was working in a client’s office and didn’t have access to the internet, they didn’t have a guest account set up for random contractors. They told me to use ThatGuy’s computer — he was taking a personal day or something — to get the information I needed to continue my work. And when I went to save the document, it went straight to a folder that was full of nothing but porn. Ew. And, what the hell do you say to that? I saved it somewhere else and didn’t mention it to the person I was working for.

        2. Sydney Bristow*

          Yeah. Luckily I haven’t had to see too many of the actual files because they are weeded out before they get to me. But I’ve worked about 10 different cases and have personally seen it on 3 of those. It had absolutely nothing to do with the case I was working on.

          The worst was emails I had to read about getting the police involved to deal with an employee who had downloaded a ton of child p*rn onto his work computer. Thank goodness I didn’t have to see anything other than those discussions! And from what I could tell, the person was arrested and the company turned over all the files to the police.

          So no, not a cautionary work tale in my experience. I’m a huge advocate for using work computers and email solely for work purposes.

          1. Prismatic Professional*

            O_o Doing something illegal on a work computer? That’s even more idiotic than doing something, well, idiotic.

            1. Amanda*

              I worked a temp job where I inherited the computer from the summer intern who had just left. I found tons of emails on the server where he discussed going shoplifting with his friend. I’m hardly a wizard with computers too, they were just incredibly easy to find.

        3. bridget*

          Nope. I would say that for every document review project I get that has work emails in them, 50% or more has some level of workers emailing sexually explicit content to each other, and more than that show private viewing of sexually explicit material.

          1. A Non*

            Daaaaaamn. I have yet to stumble across porn in 6+ years of working in IT. I must be lucky. (I also have never had the job of going looking.)

        4. A Bug*

          Nope. Way, way more common than you’d think. Some people think it’s not a problem to begin with as long as they’re not doing it on the clock. Some people just don’t expect to be caught.

          It’s not just downloading porn onto work computers, either. People will use work resources for all sorts of non-work activities. Like me, right now.

        5. K.*

          I have several friends in IT who can attest that it does happen, and several more friends who have colleagues who were fired for looking at porn at work. And one more friend who told me via email that he was surfing leaked celeb nudes while on hold (on a work-related call).

          1. Windchime*

            Don’t any of these workplaces have a firewall? I can’t even get to Facebook at work, let alone a porn site. I had to ask permission to have AAM unblocked!

            1. K.*

              At my old job, the firewall was insane – as a marketing department we had to demand to be allowed to access social media because we needed it for work. I think the only non-work-related sites I ever accessed from my work computer were Google Maps and various restaurant websites – and those were frequently related to work (e.g. “we have a work dinner at Restaurant X, let me check out the menu and see how to get there”). We would try to watch work-related webinars and those would be blocked; we’d get attachments from clients and those would be too. It was really, really annoying. (You could shop though. My old colleague was always shopping.)

              The guy who told me he was surfing celeb nudes while on the phone owns a small business, so I’d guess there’s no firewall – and he owns it, so he’s obviously not going to fire himself for looking. (And I doubt he’d fire his employees for looking as long as the work was getting done. Most people there have offices, so I’d guess a fair amount of web-surfing goes on.) One of the others in question was my friend’s officemate – he was marched out while she was in there – and she works for a very large company so I would have thought their firewall would be pretty tight, but I guess not!

              1. Molly*

                I own a small business and our actual, stated IT policy is “don’t look at porn at work,” usually with “I don’t care if you’re on Tumblr as long as you’re completing your tasks” tacked onto the end. Because honestly: I don’t. And, le shock!, not micromanaging them gets me excellent productivity.

                (Plus our excellent, very efficient clerk is able to keep me up to date on the latest viral videos during her downtime, so. Win/win, really.)

        6. Anon Accountant*

          I was at an audit client and the marketing director was watching a porn film on his computer. During work hours and without a care that others could see it. Could use some brain bleach to this day over it.

        7. BananaPants*

          An EH&S coordinator in my office got busted for this around 9 years ago. He brought his company-issued laptop home and downloaded the porn onto it (avoiding the corporate firewall and site blocking), then burned it onto CD-Rs that he got from the supply cabinet. He kept the CD-Rs in a desk drawer and then would close his office door to “view” his collection during the work day. The really sick part is that it was child pornography. :-( Fortunately he was caught and convicted.

      2. class factotum*

        I did a lot of temping as a secretary at the World Bank years ago. I temped for one secretary who was on vacation and who undoubtedly knew that there would be a temp using her computer and she still had a ton of porn sites bookmarked on. her. work. computer. At work.

        1. Abradee*

          I’ve been watching this unfold (and now commenting) on my phone so that there is never a trace of my having been to a web page with a title that includes “having sex” on my work computer ever. I consider AAM work appropriate and am probably being overly diligent, but for entries like this I keep a paranoid mindset. Hearing how others can be so cavalier with their porn habits at work will never cease to surprise and amaze me.

          1. Prismatic Professional*

            I didn’t even think about this! AAM is a valid work-related website for me. O_o I hope people follow links if I’m ever investigated!

    2. some1*

      “It’s not OK just because it didn’t happen on the clock.”

      So true! If your coworker stole your purse, is it okay if it’s off the clock?

    3. AW*

      It’s not OK just because it didn’t happen on the clock.

      I literally had to stop reading when I reached that part of the letter. The idea that a manager thought they couldn’t step in when people are doing this at work because it was lunch time was so mindblowing I had to stop.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Anything that happens in the building is the responsibility of the manager. Time of day is irrelevant- lunch time does not matter.

  17. HRish Dude*

    Sometimes I read these letters and am like, that’s not real, someone is seeing the craziest thing they can write and have Alison respond to.

    Today is one of those days.

    1. Ann without an e*

      I always wondered how Alison would reply to the Zoosk commercial. Now I know. But this is Zoosk copier room plus some……..

      Could be fake, but lets pretend its not.

  18. KT*

    So I was one of the biggest supporters of the “sex in your own hotel room is okay” club.


    You caught people having sex in the copier room of your office, and you didn’t say anything because it was their lunch hour? Are you serious?

    This is so massively inappropriate I’m struggling to wrap my head around it.

    They are having sex in the workplace. Not their own private rooms off of property, but in your office. That is both disgusting, unsanitary, BEYOND unprofessional, and disrespectful.

    In any company I’ve ever worked for, they would be fired instantly. Then there would be a meeting with everyone part of the suspected club with HR and your boss, where they would be warned this would result in firing–talking about it, participating it, or using company equipment to write about it.

    1. KT*

      Also, you’re worried YOU broke a rule because you entered the copier room? This sounds like the most dysfunctional workplace ever.

    2. TCO*

      I’m really concerned that OP saw the hotel-sex question as similar and relevant to this question. She seems very caught up in black-and-white rules (“There’s no rule against sex in the office, so I can’t do anything about this.”). OP, you either need to strengthen your ability to understand nuances and gray areas or you need to strengthen your self-confidence about your ability to confront such egregious behavior.

      Yes, your employees were the ones wildly out of line, but your (lack of) response to the issue shows that you have some skill-building to do, as well. If I were your manager I’d be quite concerned about how you’ve (not) handled the issue so far. If I were you, I’d seek out a couple of sessions of professional coaching (maybe through your EAP?) to explore how you can strengthen your management skills. Seeing the world as so black-and-white, and failing to understand the differences between hotel sex and office sex, will not serve you well in management.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s a really good point; I was thinking the same thing about her sorting through why she had to allow the sex in the copier room.

        But some of the most important rules don’t get written down in policy because it’s assumed everybody knows not to break them. No nakedness in the hallways. No driving your car down the stairway. No sex in the copy room.

        1. Prismatic Professional*

          What about cars in the elevator? They did that on Top Gear (U.K.) a while back…it was awesome.

      2. KT*

        ^This. You verbalized what I w as struggling with–her rationalizations and very black and white point of view is odd to me.

        1. Public employee temp anon*

          In my early 20s, I would have seen things the way the manager did. Consenting adults and all that.
          I also think the manager isn’t at her analytical best right now because she is scared. Hell, I would be scared if I encountered that today-someone that impulsive is the same kind of person to key your car, or vandalize your house or steal your pets. Or beat you up after work. When you get involved in any way in the sex life of a crazy person, they will try to infect you with the crazy, too. I would be contacting all of my superiors so we could present a unified front re firing them.

      3. some1*

        Yeah, that’s why I questioned the veracity of the letter. Did someone read that letter and think that the coworker who had a guest in her room was totally in the wrong, and is using hyperbole or the slippery slope argument to make a point?

        1. teclatwig*

          The rationalization for the locked copy room is what planted a seed of doubt, followed by the weird rationale for why this is probably not something LW could discipline for (plus the general helplessness). I am choosing to accept it as a real letter, in which case this manager needs some rapid skills training and possibly some additional mentoring.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I went the opposite way from seeing the world as black and white. I thought it was mushy logic- they are on their lunch break, really? They are on company property that is all that matters.
        Using the logic here, it would be okay to sell drugs during lunch, it would be okay to have fist fights and so on. No. This is a work place and particular rules of conduct are in place at all times.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          I’m now imagining a Fistfight Club complete with points for fighting in various locations.

          My brain quickly turned it into a ’90s fighting video game with slightly blocky cartoon dudes karate-kicking each other in stages set in different office-related locations (the copy room, the break room, the corner office, the board room) and a big points score at the top of the screen. (Copier Kick Combo x5! 5000 points!)

  19. YandO*

    I have so many questions….

    1. Why do you have a couch in a copy room that can be locked?
    2. Why does a copy room lock in the first place?
    3. Why were you not supposed to enter a locked copy room as a manager who has the key?
    4. Why have you not addressed the quacking earlier? Even if it was not about sex, at the least it indicated some sort of “underground thing” going on, that you as a manager should be aware of.
    5. Holy molly, why do you feel embarrassed? These young (un)professional people are having sex in the copy room! The fact that they felt comfortable enough to run a whole sex scheme with quacking in front of me indicates three things: they don’t respect you, they don’t expect you to be in charge, and they have ZERO professionalism.

    Their jobs should be in jeopardy for gross professional misconduct and if you don’t change your ways, I would not be surprised your job might be in jeopardy too. Act fast and act bold.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      well as for point 5…it IS kind of embarrassing walking into that sort of situation.

      But I wholly and entirely agree on points 1-4, especially the quacking. I mean, what!?

      1. Ann without an e*

        To point 4, me and the guys in engineering have all sorts of inside jokes, that do come from mutually watched TV shows, past work jokes, we all have nicknames. Think Big Bang Theory where dude starts getting called fruit loops.

        But as for rooms with no windows that lock, that needs to change.
        Sofas, need to get burned.

        1. YandO*

          I think there is a line between internal joke and quacking at each other. A line that I can’t explain but I’ll know when I see it.

            1. Paul*

              To rephrase that, there’s usually little reason to think that quacking means anything inappropriate, like say, a sex club, is going on.

              1. Womble*

                Or, rather, there *was* little reason to think quacking means anything inappropriate, until we read this post…

                1. Chinook*

                  See, it is playoff season right now and if I heard quacking I would wonder about the sanity of someone vocally supporting the Anaheim Ducks in Flames territory.

                2. Cath in Canada*

                  I was watching the Anaheim-Winnipeg game last night, and I smirked the first few times the announcers said “Ducks”

                  (poor Winnipeg though. Hoping for a Canucks victory over the Flames tonight to cheer me up – a girl can dream!)

                3. Blurgle*

                  (sigh) Talk about one morose city. Is there anything worse than being swept in the first round?

              1. Another unnamed*

                If the copy speed is fast enough, you could make a flick-book to produce in court as evidence.

        2. AMG*

          Yeah, getting the sofa to the dump is on the list of Things That Need to be Done to clean this up. Item #1 is talking to HR and Exec Management about the list of people who just got themselves fired.

    2. Dana*

      I was just heading down to comment and ask whether most people’s copy rooms have couches… I am wracking my brain and can’t figure out how that makes any sense.

      1. tesyaa*

        One of our kitchen areas got repurposed and we now have a microwave and coffee machine in the copy room. I imagine the couch came from somewhere that it was no longer needed/wanted, and someone decided to store it in the copy room.

      2. JoJo*

        I can see having a place to sit down if you’re habitually doing giant copying jobs that need someone to watch the copier for jams or to load paper. That being said, there is no reason for a lock on the door.

      3. LAI*

        I used to work in an office that had an old couch in the file room. One of my coworkers would take a nap in there at lunchtime, with a hotel Do Not Disturb sign on the door.

      4. Traveler*

        Furniture gets shoved around a lot at offices. Especially government offices, thought I doubt that’s the case with LW, because anything purchased with taxpayer money, even if it is broken, requires a bureaucratic “getting rid of it” process. You can’t dump it in the trash without risking scandal and intrigue.

      5. Ellie H.*

        I highly doubt anyone sat down and said “Let’s put a couch in the copy room.” These things just mysteriously happen in offices. It doesn’t seem weird to me at all.

      6. Windchime*

        Ours doesn’t have a couch, but we do have a room with a huge, fancy printer in it. The kind that can print thousands of forms a day and you have to be specially trained to use. So yeah, that printer is behind a locked door, although it’s got a huge window in the door.

        We used to have a couch in an area that was between the break room and the restrooms. People would nap on that nasty old thing all the time; I can’t even imagine sleeping on it fully clothed, let alone having my nekkid backside touching it. Eeew.

    3. Heather*

      I can only offer something on #2 – in my old group, our copy room was locked because the machine was supposed to be used only by one department and members of another department kept coming in and using it. But it was one of those keypad locks where everyone in the department had the code. (And there was no couch in there.)

      The rest, I got nothing.

    4. Nea*

      I have to defend the OP on #4. OP said “or thought I perhaps missed a moment in a recent movie or TV show to which the quacks were referring” and there are a lot of subtle phrases and in-jokes that signal “I am of your tribe; let’s talk later” that can be dropped into casual conversation without disrupting the workplace (much less being a cover code for something like this!)

      Obligatory disclaimer: I’m a mystery and SF fan and can think of half a dozen things that make no sense to more than a couple of people where I work, but they don’t signal any kind of unprofessional “underground thing.”

        1. Book Person*

          I’m still not over his passing. Have been rereading so many Discworld novels in the past few weeks.

      1. nona*

        Yeah, I can think of some references like that at my job.

        And I’m a very specific type of nerd – haven’t run into my kind at work, but we do tend to spot each other that way.

      2. BananaPants*

        It’s probably showing my age here but a couple of my fellow 30-something coworkers and I will occasionally bring up “TPS reports” or a “jump to conclusions mat” as an in-joke. We also have a couple of in-jokes from within our company, even our team (we have a very stable and pretty small team). It doesn’t signal unprofessionalism or some kind of secret club of any kind.

    5. Sunflower*

      2. The copy room might just be an old or spare office that has a lock on the door. That’s all I can imagine

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Picking up on #5 about being embarrassed. That is a temporary thing, your embarrassment will pass, OP.
      Consider this- you are now in the position of having to deal with this, like you don’t have any real work to do or anything. Any embarrassment I had would quickly shift to anger. They have totally disrespected everyone in the company and the company itself. Their preoccupation with their sex club has detracted from company business. They have used company resources in whatever manner they felt like using those resources. They are not worth the pay they are receiving. Having a job is a privilege, not a right. And every day each employee must re-earn that privilege to have a job. Participating in the sex club at work means the employee is no longer interested in the job or the company.

      I’d make a list of anyone I heard quacking and they would be in the office for a serious meeting, also.

      1. Jamie*

        Just out of curiosity why do people get embarrassed over other people’s actions. (I’d get it if it were your spouse, or child…their actions reflecting on us and all that)

        The OP wasn’t seen having sex, I have no doubt she’s always been fully clothed at work. I get why the naked people might be embarrassed, but not the innocent bystander.

        And I’m not being snarky – I know this is totally a normal thing and people get embarrassed for others all the time I would just love to understand it.

        1. vox de causa*

          In my case it would not be the action so much as the sight of someone else naked. I think I would have been mortified and possibly paralyzed by embarrassment and disbelief if I had walked in on two employees (or even coworkers) ducking on the couch. I’ve flushed crimson when someone had a body part flop outside of their swimming suit. I’ve even been miserable when I had to tell someone their underwear was poking out of the leg of their pants. I think if two employees were earning duck club points fully covered under a blanket, I would be much more able to act swiftly and appropriately, but suddenly faced with private parts of people I work with, I can imagine I would be temporarily stunned and flustered.

          I can also see myself doing some “I surely did not see what I just thought I saw, right?” and second-guessing what was really happening, because it would be so out of line with reality.

        2. Sarahnova*

          I’d say it’s a form of social embarrassment – the sense that *you* have erred by witnessing something you should not have witnessed. We all get our sense of what’s “normal” and acceptable mostly from those around us, so if people are having sex in the copy room without seeming concerned… maybe that IS normal and acceptable, and *I* did the wrong thing by walking in? Or if my co-worker has a wardrobe malfunction, there’s still a sense of “I shouldn’t have seen that, that is a private thing, THEREFORE I did something wrong in seeing it”. It’s not rational.

          I think it’s particularly prevalent here in ye olde UK, land of the pathologically polite and reticent where it’s not at all uncommon for people to apologise when they get their foot stepped on.

        3. BeckyDaTechie*

          I feel a little uncomfortable even seeing others kiss– regardless of gender– and have since I was a small child at my first wedding. I think in my case it comes from not wanting to be seen as vulnerable or distracted myself and thus extending that (what I’d take to be) courtesy to others by default.

  20. kristinyc*

    Would any of this fall under sexual harassment?

    I’m assuming everyone involved is at the same level, so there wouldn’t likely be a power imbalance there, but I’m sure it’s making people who aren’t participating (but know about it) really uncomfortable.

        1. fposte*

          I think it may qualify, but it would depend; if all the co-workers were happy and willing participants, I don’t think it would rise to the standard. It has to be “unwanted.”

          However, in practice, it’s almost certain that one to more of the participants would state that pressure was involved, and it’s certainly possible that it was; that’s another reason why it’s completely unacceptable to allow this stuff in the workplace.

          1. Just Another Techie*

            Agreed. If the majority of your coworkers are in this “club” (*shudder*) and it’s a way the group bonds and forms rapport, if you don’t join, you could find yourself shut out of all kinds of conversations and projects. It’s like a way skeevier, grosser, horrible version of “all the guys go to the sports bar after work” or “all the male managers play golf on Saturdays.” And if any of your employees feel like they were pressured or coerced into having sex with a coworker. . .ugh.

            1. cuppa*

              I would think that if someone knew about it but wasn’t participating, it would also qualify (I couldn’t use the copy room all morning because my co-workers were all having sex in there for points and that makes me uncomfortable; my co-workers quack at each other to ask for sex and it makes me uncomfortable, etc).

              Also, I’m thinking (but not 100% sure) that if the OP saw this and didn’t report this as a supervisor, they could be held liable. I know we’re thinking it’s consensual at this point, but if a complaint was made and it was discovered that OP knew about it, she could end up in some serious hot water.

              1. bridget*

                If by “they could be held liable” you mean the company, yes, probably. If it should have gone up the chain of command but didn’t for some reason, knowledge could potentially be imputed on the company. Even if the company didn’t “know,” it “should have known.” Individual employees are almost never personally liable for employment law violations.

                1. cuppa*

                  But it is my understanding that you can be for sexual harassment claims if you are a supervisor.

                2. cuppa*

                  Upon further review, you cannot be personally liable under Title VII, but under my state’s laws and my state’s Supreme Court’s interpretations of those laws, a supervisor may be personally liable. I am not a lawyer, but it is a possibility.

                3. bridget*

                  Yes, I was generally referring to Title VII. State laws may be more protective.

                  That isn’t to say that an individual supervisor couldn’t get held liable for related conduct, like battery if it involved unwanted touching, they are just almost never liable under federal employment laws.

            2. mel*

              Plus, they’re literally quacking at each other which is just code for sexual harrassment they can perform in front of anyone.

          2. bearing*

            And any one of them who wasn’t the instigator might plausibly claim it was unwanted to try to save their job by positioning themself as a victim of harassment.

            (Sorry for using androgynous “them”)

        2. Traveler*

          That’s what I was thinking. Isn’t another employee watching porn at work something that qualifies as sexual harassment? I seem to remember that being in some bureaucratic sexual harassment quiz I took at a job once. So, if that qualifies, so would live porn, no? At least for the manager who had to witness this?

        3. vox de causa*

          I agree. Because the manager was subjected to an unwanted sexual encounter. It was obviously a shock.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      For anyone who has to work around it, it would almost certainly comprise a hostile work environment.

      1. DarcyPennell*

        Oh my god. Imagine how this is for coworkers who aren’t participating. “My coworkers made a contest out of having sex all over the office in the middle of the day, and our boss knew and did nothing.” Any employee worth keeping would quit as fast as they could and tell the story for the rest of their lives.

      2. Worker Bee (Germany)*

        Not just the people working around it. Imagine OP now goes and fires the two of them and one of the two claims it was rape? S/he might say this to save his/her job. I know it is word against words.. But just having this sitting out there with nothing being done… So many potential law suits…

    2. variety*

      Even if it isn’t technically sexual harassment what happens when 2 coworkers who are having sex don’t like each other any more? Or one gets a promotion? Some people will complain after the fact if they are now unhappy. Now you will have a hostile work environment. Even if there was nothing illegal or hostile at the time you will still have to investigate and deal with it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what I was thinking. Or if some kind of rivalry should develop; maybe someone likes their duck partner and the duck partner likes someone else, that could be problematic as well.

    3. Val*

      This technically falls under “hostile workplace” – a situation in which a bystander could be made to feel uncomfortable, pressured, or threatened.

  21. Todapod*

    Even you do not “need a rule” to address professional misconduct, if you are really seeking one— sexual harassment should cover it pretty well. Imaging receiving an invitation to this “duck” club but not wanting to be a part of it and having to work in that environment? This could create a really terrible work condition for employees and obviously has for you— which is valid, even as a manager, you are entitled to use and enter work spaces without the risk of stumbling on people bumping uglies.

    1. Elliott*

      That’s what I was thinking. Having sex at work should certainly qualify as exposing coworkers to unwanted sexual behaviour!

    2. mel*

      ugh, imagine being a non-member and yet aware of why you’re being quacked at everyday. First it’s just quiet “kissy sounds” and now it’s LOUD QUACKING that everyone in the office can hear.

  22. Amber Rose*

    Euuuw. Euuuw. Euuuw.

    How unsanitary. How could you touch anything without like, welding gloves? Can you imagine… do you have an issue with illness spreading around? I don’t care if it’s ok to do as they like off the clock, there are limits. These people are sick in the head if they think this is in any way acceptable. You wouldn’t let them have a meth lab, for example.

    The ones who should be embarrassed are them. Your appropriate response here needs to be anger. They are abusing your good will and defiling the place you do business.

    1. TL -*

      While it’s gross to think about, it’s not actually a health hazard.
      (And hopefully the club doesn’t have bonus points for ducking while sick. Most people aren’t feeling fun and adventurous when they have a cold.)

        1. TL -*

          It’s not, actually. A disease causing agent is not likely to be viable after a few minutes outside of the body and the bodily fluid you’re most likely to get everywhere is sweat, which is pretty harmless.

          So – unless you’re planning on scooping up the fluids right after the, er, event, and ingesting them via mouth or open wound, and in fairly large amounts, you’re not taking on any more risk than you would be existing in a place where other people sneeze and cough and sweat.

        2. Traveler*

          Do you go to bars? Restaurants? Public bathrooms? Stay at a hotel? Your friends house? Then you’ve probably touched things that people have had sex on. You couldn’t label all those things “health hazards”.

      1. The Strand*

        No, it is a health hazard. Probably won’t kill you… But those fluids could carry things that would not be pleasant to catch. The big one would be E.Coli from somebody’s bum. But also, imagine you put your hand on the couch while waiting out a copy run, touched some secretions on the couch, and then absently rubbed your hands on your face or in your eyes. Imagine getting a cold sore-type infection in your eyes.

        There is a reason people who work in medicine – even if they never see patients themselves – have hand sanitizer everywhere.

        1. TL -*

          Most of those diseases are things that aren’t going to last at room temperature, and even if they do, you’re not at any more risk than touching the doorhandle after someone who doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Gross, but not super hazardous.

          And herpes virus has no evidence of being transmissible through contact with inanimate objects – it degrades fairly quickly at room temperature.

          1. The Strand*

            Like I said TL, the big one to worry about would be E.coli… which yes, exists on people’s phones and keyboards, and so on, but also in people’s rear ends and on their skin, which might be sweatily slapping all over various work surfaces. E.coli can be sexually transmitted from one partner to another, and it lives for days on surfaces. For some of us, E. coli means a bout of “stomach flu”, but to others foodborne illness is more dangerous due to underlying conditions. I know someone who suffered terribly after getting Hepatitis A on the job (not because of teenage sex fiends; it was foodborne).

            Herpes does degrade quick, yes, and it’s unlikely that you’ll catch it from a toilet seat, but if someone’s shedding I would prefer they not do it on my desk, on the off chance that I absently rub my face or eyes before the virus dies. Unlikely, sure – but that’s my right. Other secretions from diseases like Hepatitis A and B have the misfortune of hanging around a lot longer.

            I’m not a health provider – my thing is “soft” science – but my medical employer expects us to take steps to prevent transmission of bacteria and viruses; even the “doorhandle risk” is taken seriously. We are expected to take steps to prevent others from picking up the flu or cold viruses and to maintain cleanliness.

            Epidemically speaking, no, there’s probably not a lot of danger of everyone turning into salivating sex zombies, but this is “gross” precisely because there is an outside chance of spreading an illness this way. (Well, that and the intrusion of someone’s sex life and intimacy into our professional world.) Or put another way, cleaning the area and throwing out the couch might not save anyone’s life but will probably provide a psychological boost to their sense of security.

            1. TL -*

              …thus, gross but not actually a significant health risk.
              Immunocompromised populations would be at a higher risk, but they’re at a higher risk anyways and would hopefully be the recipient of more careful sanitary practices from those around them.

            2. TL -*

              And I don’t know how to put this delicately but as long as you have generally good hygenic practices and are practicing fairly vanilla ducking, E. coli shouldn’t be a significant risk – it’s not at higher concentrations on the outside area. To culture E. coli from your body, you can’t just swab the surrounding areas; you have to reach the area of interest, which is not anything that should come into contact with couch cushions, even naked.
              (I know. I’ve done this.)

              1. The Strand*

                I think the issue is that we disagree on defining hazard, as Amber Rose said, and elsewhere people have talked more about the psychological impact.

                I’m not a neat freak either (definitely on the sloppy side) but I do wash my and my beloved’s uh, underwear separately now. What changed my mind was reading comments by Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at U-Arizona, who noted how much of that stuff stays on our clothes.
                I also assume that some of them, to rack up points, aren’t having vanilla ducking. I’m really curious about the update!

          2. Oh no, not again*

            Cliff. Those spores can live on surfaces for WEEKS. People, wash your hands after toileting.

      2. TheLazyB*

        If they’re not using condoms then there is a huge health risk for the participants – STDs, HIV, unwanted pregnancies……

      3. Alma*

        Oh yeah, it is a health hazard. It is probably something that a professional bio-hazard cleanup crew should address, as apparently they were ducking like crazy anywhere and everywhere with everyone, and not cleaning up the bodily fluids. Yuck! And then touching everything in the office!!

        I worked in a non-medical role in a medical related business, and still got the personal protective gear training. Hand sanitizer doesn’t kill all the wicked germs. Neither does soap. Or chlorine bleach. Or especially the tub of wipes we use to clean our desks, phones, and computer keyboards.

        I’m going to take a shower…

        1. TL -*

          Just to clarify, I am a biologist and am currently taking a medical microbiology class for kicks and giggles. It’s really not an increased risk to exist in a place where other people are having or have had sex.

          1. BeckyDaTechie*

            But imagine, if you will, walking around this office with the Ducking List and a black light.

      4. Amber Rose*

        Not in a serious sense. More like, a hazard the same way working with people who never wash their hands is a hazard. More skin/fluids in touch with more surfaces would arguably make the passing of colds/flu more prevalent.

        The safety officer teaching our course told a story of a cleaning lady who only used on pair of gloves in a day. When they made her use a new set for each task, incidences of colds, flu and other bugs dropped very noticeably.

  23. Elkay*

    I wonder how much power the OP actually has here, although she’s a manager the comment that she broke the rules by entering a room that she has a key to makes me think that she may not have hiring/firing/discipline powers. I totally agree that this needs to be reported upwards, the whole thing (and get a copy of the list if you didn’t think to at the time).

    I completely understand not addressing the quacking, although it stinks of high school, I think it’s a pick your battles thing. I work with youth groups (I know adults in the workplace is a different kettle of ducks) and sometimes you just need to let them have their thing because addressing it makes it a bigger thing than it needs to be. Would you be calling them on saying “Go Land Crabs” everytime they passed each other in the hall (Better Call Saul)?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Yeah, the issue here is sex in the workplace. If they wanna have a Duck Club on their own time in an appropriate place such as a house or hotel, whatever.

      1. TCO*

        Sure, but it would still be completely inappropriate use company time/resources to discuss the club, send e-mails about the club, or print anything about the club.

        1. tesyaa*

          Even if the club was something innocuous, solicitation would fall afoul of many companies’ IT rules.

      2. Ann without an e*

        No becasue it could still involve peer pressure to drum up office partcipation. Its not OK or professional to hook up with co-workers.
        1. Peer pressure to be one of the cool kids
        2. Break up drama
        3. Promotions and payraises will create power dynamic issues
        4. getting shunned for not participating

        It causes to many problems for everyone else that works there. If you want to be a member of a duck club that doesn’t involve your co-workers EVER then fine do that. But now co-workers.

        Its not part of your personal life once you involve a co-worker.

        1. Amber Rose*

          I don’t agree at all. I’ve worked in plenty of places where coworkers date and/or sleep together. Managers can’t, or shouldn’t, be involved in that kind of thing, but what consenting adults do in their own time, off company time and property, is nobody else’s business unless it affects work.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            If you happen to meet the love of your life on a job, these things happen. But several months or years later when that person doesn’t turn out to be the love of your life and you both still work there, coworkers should not be subjected to your breakup drama any more than they should be subjected to your snooky-ookums. For some people, this is easy to do and they make plans that one of them should look for a new job, for others, not so much. And when it’s your manager dating their reports, don’t get me started.

        2. tesyaa*

          We’re not allowed to drum up participation for something completely clean (think ice bucket challenge) because of solicitation rules – the idea that someone might feel pressured to participate. People occasionally do it, but it’s strictly speaking prohibited.

      3. Ann without an e*

        No becasue it could still involve peer pressure to drum up office partcipation. Its not OK or professional to hook up with co-workers.
        1. Peer pressure to be one of the cool kids
        2. Break up drama
        3. Promotions and pay raises will create power dynamic issues
        4. getting shunned for not participating

        It causes to many problems for everyone else that works there. If you want to be a member of a duck club that doesn’t involve your co-workers EVER then fine do that. But now co-workers.

        Its not part of your personal life once you involve a co-worker.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah, I can’t imagine “cracking down on quacking”. When people spend all day together, silly inside jokes develop. That’s just how it is. We had one for months where you sing the Everything Is Awesome song from the Lego movie. “Everything is awesome, when you’re shipping on time!” or whatever you’re doing. There used to be a guy where everything was “Git ‘er done!” I don’t think any useful purpose would be served by trying to stifle that kind of thing.

  24. Macedon*

    …what the duck.

    Uhhhh. Wow. Well, then.

    My single rec would be: unless you have additional information about the nature of the Duck Club, be sure to report to your supervisor that it’s POSSIBLE it relates to sexual activity, but that you are not 110% sure. Because you don’t want an entire team ganging up against you and covering their tracks, then making you seem like the absurd paranoid manager. They’ve unfortunately got numbers against you, and I wouldn’t expect much by way of professional ethics from individuals who make me me cringe at the quality of my own puns as I question whether they work hard for their money.

    ( And don’t go light with the hand sanitizer after touching anything in that office. )

      1. sstabeler*

        yup. it would be investigating an issue of misconduct at work. Where it gets morally murky is when you are merely a snoop.

    1. Artemesia*

      except the list shows the various spots and their points —

      but first fire the two in the copy room.
      stop locking the copy room. (the excuse for this is pathetic — and with a couch in the room. even if sex was not happening there, cooping on the job would be happening there.)

      You don’t need to openly acknowledge the duck club per se as a sex club– just hold up the list (or better yet make a power point of it) and let them know, no evidence of this better be seen or heard in the office again. The fact that the first two caught got fired should make the message clear to all.

      1. Macedon*

        The list shows spots and points, but they can say that the activity involved was hiding Easter eggs. Paper scraps. Puzzle pieces.

        Based on the information the OP has given us, you can’t prove that the copy room incident and the Duck Club aren’t more than coincidentally linked.

        1. Ann without an e*

          Company email, skype chat during work hours, and company cell phones can. This needs to involve your manager, IT, and HR. Fire them all for sexual harassment hostile work environment, this isn’t about them its about everyone else that works there, the company’s reputation with clients……

        2. Just Another Techie*

          Luckily, a manager with hiring/firing authority doesn’t actually need to meet the standard of proof a criminal trial would require. OP doesn’t need to “prove” anything — the evidence points in that direction strongly enough for her to act.

          1. Macedon*

            I hate to be harsh about it, but OP… clearly doesn’t have that much authority, or s/he’s very insecure about exercising it and is counting on back-up from an immediate supervisor. That person will probably want more evidence than, ” I found two people having sex in the copy room” and “these two individuals happen to be part of a workplace-wide club that awards points for undertaking an anonymous activity in various office areas.”

              1. AW*

                Ha, yeah!

                In fact, their desk probably IS on that list, if it’s in a room and not an open office area.

            1. Observer*

              If the OP’s boss has any sense, he probably will not need more “proof”. And if he does, he can easily ask IT for it.

        3. fposte*

          You don’t have to prove it. This isn’t a court of law, and Artemesia’s only talking about using it as a device anyway. I don’t know that I would fire the whole team without finding out a little more, but I’d be legally able to if I wished to.

          1. fposte*

            And you know, if there were employees who weren’t actively involved, choosing not to report this is a problem in its own right. As it is for the OP, if she doesn’t get moving.

            1. Macedon*

              No, I agree completely – it needs to be reported. Just with the caveat of, “I have no direct evidence that the copy room incident and the Duck Club are linked, but it is my very strong belief that they are.”

              To be perfectly honest, I think the two caught in the copy room should have been fired, both as a disciplinary measure commensurate with their offence and as an example for the rest of the team. Though, obviously, one of the bigger issues at hand is that they don’t respect OP in the slightest, and that is a can of worms on its own.

        4. Artemesia*

          You don’t need to PROVE things in an office. I am not suggesting firing everyone on the list; but certainly fire the two caught. And then make it clear that any further behavior like this will involve firing on the spot. If you don’t want to assume the list means what it means, you can still make it clear that you have it, know what it means and will not tolerate it. Period. Without explicitly describing what it means. This kind of wussy managing is disastrous for a workplace. The OP needs to step up now and hard. And if there is any doubt of management backup of course take it to the manager above him or her (perhaps noting how many points this person’s desk is worth) and recommend a course of action including firing.

          I am just floored that a copy room with a couch would be lockable and that a manager would ever feel wrong about unlocking that door. An open door policy is obviously in order.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        just hold up the list (or better yet make a power point of it)

        Oh! Oh! Me! Me! I’ll do it!

        All kidding aside… this is the sort of thing that becomes company legend and is passed on as cautionary tales by the employees that remain, because there is no way that this is going to remain a secret.
        “I know this goes without saying, but we had an incident a few years ago where we had to let a lot of employees go for abusing company property…”
        “Really, what happened?” (new hire thinking of theft, vandalism)
        “Well… I really shouldn’t say but… a group of hires fresh out of college decided to set up a sex club in the office and when they were found out, they were immediately terminated.”

    2. EngineerGirl*

      IT forensics should help you out.
      Emails, copy jobs to the printer, all are going over the internet, right?

        1. A Non*

          Yes, almost always. Just assume that anything that is in digital form or has been put through a copier is being saved somewhere that a tech can find it and you can’t delete it.

    3. RP*

      They’ve unfortunately got numbers against you

      That’s not really relevant though. The OP is higher up than them in the hierarchy and their supervisor/manager. There being more of them doesn’t mean that their word is more trusted, especially when two of them were caught in the act. That’s like believing a bunch of kindergarteners didn’t get paint on the walls just because it’s the word for 25 kids versus just 1 teacher.

      Heck, even without the piece of paper, just the fact that two employees were caught having sex in the office is enough reason to warn the other employees that this is completely unacceptable. The paper with the locations just confirms that it’s necessary and where they should focus the cleaning efforts.

  25. some1*

    Assuming this letter is true, I would actually consider disciplining the LW if she were my direct report for not handling this (by firing everyone involved) already. Or were you waiting for the president to catch someone on her desk?

    1. NickelandDime*

      I have to agree with you. After I fired these fools, I’d definitely want to have a heart to heart with the OP as to why they waited so long to say something. It hasn’t been one day – it’s been SEVERAL.

      1. some1*

        Oh, and btw, if another manager *does* catch these two or some other employees, you can bet that the first thing they will say is how you you knew it was going on and didn’t do anything. Get in front of the story, for the love of god!!

  26. fposte*

    Alison, you talk about how this should be dealt with but you don’t mention firing explicitly. Is there a reason why not? I get that it might be a problem to replace the whole team if they’re all involved, and that the OP doesn’t actually know who’s involved for sure anyway, but I’d be perfectly happy to fire the two I caught “pour encourager les autres” and make that part of the fire-and-brimstone meeting.

      1. Mike C.*

        This is pretty much in the “punching your producer for not delivering you a hot steak while on a PIP” category of firing.

    1. Beebs*

      I once worked in a place with a lot of young people and really bad behavior, and it was practically impossible for someone to get fired despite some really ridiculous offenses and unprofessional behavior. But there was a guy who was caught on the clock with a guest and his pants down. He got fired. Even our really bad management with terrible judgement saw that one as crossing a line.

      1. Bekx*

        I supervised student workers. One girl decided to show someone her new n*pple piercings and flashed half the lobby. It was on camera and by supervisor didn’t even warn her because “she’s a minority and that could open us up to discrimination.” What?????

      2. Windchime*

        We had a guy get caught masturbating in a wiring closet once. Pants literally down around his ankles, getting busy while watching a videotape of naughty things (he had borrowed the A/V equipment from another department). He didn’t get fired for that. He got fired later for lying on his timecard, but not for that. So strange.

  27. NonProfit Noelle*

    I am seriously floored that, if this actually happened, the OP sat on it a week before doing anything, and she still hasn’t addressed it within the company. There are some gray areas regarding what needs to be bumped up the ladder, but this is very clearly not one.

  28. Sunshine Brite*

    What? … WHAT? I’m 27 and I can tell you that at 22 I would’ve never done that at work. I might’ve done something stupidly after work hours but at work?!?

    I think I’m less surprised by the sex club and that you need a backbone so badly that you haven’t addressed this in a week. You’re making weak excuses like they were clocked out and you broke some inapplicable rule about locked doors. I can’t believe you’ve even considered sweeping it under the rug and have sat on this for over a week. I mean, I know I’m a social worker and talk about embarrassing things all the time.

    Go to HR, supervisor, whoever you need to to address this immediately! Firing the two you caught and setting expectations going forward. Don’t expect to manage this team long if you can’t handle clear cut employee issues because there’s a lot of actually gray area situations that you’re going to need to address. Going forward seek out personal development opportunities to increase confidence, managerial, and interpersonal skills.

    1. Elkay*

      Also the letter says the door was locked all morning so if it was a duck meeting place for the whole morning some of them must have been on the clock, or if they weren’t checking timecards will tell you who else is in the club (so to speak).

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      There’s a lot of stupid stuff I did when I was young – and even now – but something like this would just not be on my radar. I mean, who does this!? If the 2 people in the copy room are fired and aren’t the ‘leader’ of this ‘club’ then the person that came up with this idea should be too. I mean what were they thinking!? It’s almost like a…the thing with the keys in a bowl.

    3. Dana*

      I am also 27 and have to admit that my current relationship developed in the workplace…in the food industry. With my boss, the owner. But we NEVER did anything during work hours, while other people were there, on the clock, etc. I can sort of see after-hours at an office I guess, but during the day? I’m blown away.

  29. beachlover*

    Wait! Do you work at Grey Sloan Hospital in Seattle? I thought the only work place where this was acceptable behavior was in hospital on call rooms, or supply rooms! Seriously. There is absolutely no way this is acceptable behavior in any work place, unless you are in the adult entertainment industry. Having said that, there was a couple that were dating at one company I worked for, and they were known to go into the employee lounge and have “fun” on the pool table. Quite a game of pocket pool in my opinion. Also, my husband walked in on his boss and a admin going for it in the office supply room. What made it even worse, was the fact that they were both married to other people, and known in the office for espousing their “Christianity”.

    1. the_scientist*

      I just need to give you several internet high fives for use of the phrase “pocket pool” in this context. A++ would LOL again.

  30. Jenna*

    The people in this office sound really immature and they must think their jobs are for socializing (to an extreme degree). I would also fire them because obviously an example needs to be made so that everyone else understands that their behavior is not going to be tolerated.

  31. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    In general, an anything-goes lunch policy tends to refer to the fact that nobody cares if you go out or to the gym or go shopping or home to walk your hermit crab or whatever.

    Not “sex in the copy room” because, well, it’s lunch! It wouldn’t be okay to sell meth to kindergarteners because hey, you weren’t punched in at the time.

    1. Heather*

      It wouldn’t be okay to sell meth to kindergarteners because hey, you weren’t punched in at the time.

      Now you tell me.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Look at Patrick Swayze in Road House. Even he didn’t allow his bouncer to get some, even though said bouncer was on a break. He fired the guy immediately.

  32. jhhj*

    Given the number of students who I’d see having sex in university libraries, or in offices that WERE NOT THEIR OWN , or in study rooms, or — anyways, I can totally believe that a group of early 20s workers could convince themselves this is okay as long as they are off the clock. It isn’t, but I am not shocked by the existence of people who believe that.

    I hope you have a list of the point locations so you can start checking in on them regularly after you speak to the people you caught and also your manager. Maybe bring some bleach with you.

    1. Alistair*

      This is rather where my thoughts were heading. If some of these kids got thrills like that in school, of course they’d try it at work. And of course they could try to say “no one ever said we couldn’t!” This needs to be a teaching moment. A very harsh teaching moment.

      I think the only way to stop the Duck Club is to crack (quack?*) down on it, HARD. Fire those two. Locks off everything you can. Meeting/memo to say that this is not acceptable and that it IS a fireable offense with no appeals. Still have that list? Check those spots often!

      And maybe buy a super-soaker, put some foul (fowl?)* smelling water in it, and carry it with you on your rounds. Let loose at anyone you find who is trying to “earn points.”

      And look into getting rid of that couch (Three men in a bathtub? Ew, that’s unsanitary!). And possibly getting rid of every couch you can.

      *sorry, sorry!

    2. Sunflower*

      I’m with you on totally believing this. Esp if they are working in customer service which can sometimes be a drag. Obviously this is not at all okay but wow I am totally not shocked to hear this is happening!!!

    3. Anonsie*

      I’m thinking back on all the people who pulled stunts like this when I was in food service (ok is that as common as I just made it sound or did I just work in some whack kitchens?) and I don’t think it skewed younger, but it definitely skewed towards the people who in general gave the least fricks. People who would go on to get fired for no-call no-shows or stealing or something or, in one notable case, for repeatedly flashing people as a prank. I don’t think any of them thought it was flat out okay as much as they felt that everything’s okay as long as you don’t get busted.

      1. Kathlynn*

        Well I know of two people who worked in grocery stores or gas station who had sex while on the job. One of them even warned their coworker that if they disappeared that’s whats going on.

    4. jag*

      I’m many decades old and don’t think it’s OK —- BUT I doubt I’d fire someone if it was off hours and I was confident it would stop and wasn’t widespread. It’d be ” W T F! You two, come see me 9am tomorrow.” Then I’d have to make sure it never ever happened again. And if it seemed to have been widespread (Duck Club) I’d fire them. But desire for sex is normal and if it seemed it’d happened a few times and they were good employees otherwise, no immediate firing.

  33. Mena*

    Added advice, in additon to Alison’s input: remove all door locks and couches from the office.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I disagree people shouldn’t be fucking in the office period, regardless of anything that might assist them.

  34. some1*

    “(our team often has large volumes of printing they need to do and it helps to be able to sort things in there by yourself, as multiple people can get their pages mixed up and it turns into a mess)”

    Um, buy a secure printer where people need to sign in or scan their badge to print their job.

    1. YandO*

      that confuses me greatly

      how is locking the room going to help with mixed pages?

      people and and will still print to that printer regardless of the door being locked

      and if one is sorting through pages and the other person comes up to pick up their print job, how is locked door going to make that situation better?

      The fact that LW sees this as a reasonable thing makes me question her judgement all over again

      1. fposte*

        Or is this the explanation she was given when she asked–and did she perhaps ask one of her employees who had been there longer than she has?

    2. cuppa*

      In my old office, we just said, “hey, I’m working on a big job, can you come back later?” No lock needed.

      1. Nikki T*

        This is where my mind went. Why do we need to lock the door, or even CLOSE it? I walk in, someone’s there, I say “oh, when do you think you’ll be done?” I skip away merrily…

        Our copy room locks, but we don’t lock it until we all leave at night. If it was locked during the day and no one answered my knock, I’d have someone open it for me…because why would someone be in there doing something inappropriate!

    3. Sadsack*

      Yeah, I have worked in departments with 20+ people sharing a copier and never had to have a locked door, even in the legal department.

    4. BananaPants*

      I’m also confused by this. In my office roughly 30 employees print from the same network printer (one of those print/scan/fax machines). We’re engineers and a lot of us print LONG documents like test standards or operating manuals – we’re talking hundreds of pages. If someone’s print job gets mixed in with your long print job, you either drop it at their cube (if it has their name on it) or put it in the vertical file sorter right next to the printer so they’ll find it. Most of the time the print queue doesn’t interrupt long print jobs so someone might just need to wait a few minutes. If there’s already a finished print job when you arrive to pick up yours, you pop it into an open slot on the file sorter and then take yours. It’s REALLY not complicated or difficult to keep everyone’s print jobs sorted out.

      Unless they’re literally printing non-stop, 10 people printing to one office-grade printer should not pose such an insurmountable problem that the only solution is long periods of time behind a locked door. Why can’t they sort their mixed-up pages at a copy room table like the rest of us? (Actually, I really don’t want to know how many points one would get for quacking on the copy room table…)

  35. Prismatic Professional*

    Bwahahahaha!! Tears are streaming down my face and I can barely breathe! Wow. One of my co-workers thought I was having an asthma attack or something. Now we’re both trying not to end up on the floor laughing. I am so sorry you have to deal with this.

    If I had to guess, I’d think that “duck” was used since it rhymes with another activity (that was actually happening in the office!!). Good luck dear OP, and for the love of all that’s office etiquette please send an update!

      1. Prismatic Professional*

        Thanks. That made me burst out laughing while talking to a coworker on the phone. Fortunately, she’s already read this article and understood my mirth.

    1. beachlover*

      1st rule of Duck Club: What happens in Duck Club, stays in Duck Club or the copy room.

  36. Joey*

    Talk to them? Really Alison? About the extent of talking I would do would go like this: “what the hell were you thinking? And what the hell is this sheet with points? You know we can’t put up with that. You’re fired. Please pack your belongings and see yourself out.”

    1. Sadsack*

      I have to agree with this. I bet the employees who got caught are amazed at OP’s reaction. Closing the door and then never saying anything to them about it for a week? They are two lucky duckies.

  37. illini02*

    Wow. I did get a good chuckle reading this. While I mostly agree, I think the only real issue to be brought up is the sex in the office. Whether they are all screwing each other in a sex club, and are getting points for doing it in different places is a separate issue to me than the fact that they are doing it IN the office. If this paper was giving points for “In the park”, “in the movie theater”, that type of thing, to me, thats not a manager’s concern. I don’t know that I would even bring that part up except that it shouldn’t be happening in the office, not that it shouldn’t be happening among co-workers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Even that is a manager’s concern, since it’s the kind of thing that can create legal liability (in the sexual harassment sense) for the employer, if it makes employees uncomfortable (whether or not they speak up about it to their coworkers).

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Just from a team dynamic perspective, employees boffing each other is sure to create problems.

        I would love to know how this thing even got started.

        1. Lisa*

          This could easily include people who are superiors or somewhat in charge over another co-worker. How do you know if that someone doesn’t feel pressured to join in and accept a quack. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen when someone gets promoted and is still quacking at subordinates.

      2. illini02*

        I guess I can see that, but where do you draw the line? If there are 2 couples and they like to swap partners, is that a problem? I know some companies have those no fraternization policy (which I don’t like), but at some point when you start policing what people are doing outside of work (or who they are doing outside of work) it becomes too much of an invasion of privacy.

        1. Observer*

          True. But, if you don’t want your boss policing what you do, don’t bring it into the office. That includes printing lists about it.

          You all go to a bar after hours and set this up? That’s your business. You organize this in the office using office printers? That’s your boss’ business.

          1. Jamie*

            Right – if they kept it private (and the locations weren’t on site) the point would be moot as work wouldn’t know about it.

            The second you leave it on your desk at work it becomes the manager’s problem.

      3. AW*

        Any workplace harassment training I’ve taken has made it clear that it doesn’t matter if the harassment is occurring outside of work hours or off the premises.

        Honestly, it makes me wonder whether harassment training isn’t as common as I thought it was since so many people seem to think all behavior outside of work is off limits.

      4. HRChick*

        The “making employees uncomfortable” thing is the part that would most concern me. If an employee doesn’t want to participate but is receiving these fliers basically asking them to put out and telling them that their coworkers were having sex around the office or in public places (which is really something I would NOT want to know), that’s not fair to their sense of comfort and well-being in the workplace.

        Not only that, but these kinds of things can often create “cliques” that can get quite divisive, especially considering the nature of the “club”

  38. Cleopatra Jones*

    Also, the bravado of the guy who was caught.

    He boldly put the list on his desk where you could see it! That was not at all coincidental.

    I can imagine that he’s bragging to co-workers and friends that he was caught having sex in the copy room and nothing happened to him. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gained an actual 100 points for that one.

        1. Can Do*

          I’ve been wondering about this. If one of the founding members of Duck Club had thought about the cost of getting caught (-1 point, plus getting fired and having to explain firing to prospective employers for the next 10 years) I suspect Duck Club woukd have had trouble finding members. I agree with Alison that pack behaviour/group think is at play here.

    1. Ama*

      The only other explanation I can think of is he expects to get in trouble because he was caught and is passive aggressively trying to show the OP other people are involved without outright confessing. It definitely seems like someone immature enough to do this would also get all indignant about the rest of the club not getting in trouble.

      1. nona*

        This is a real stretch, but he could have made the whole thing up, using some joke about ducks to implicate everyone else. Or the duck joke involved everyone but Duck Club is two people.

  39. UK Alice*

    Something similar happened at an old office job of mine, but with only two people who were sneaking off to the bathrooms to have sex during the work day. (They were caught on CCTV going in to the ladies together.)

    I work in the UK which has strong employee protections and no-one blinked twice when all their emails were read by their managers, they were fired within a day for gross misconduct, and the entire staff got a Serious Talk on professionalism and bringing our company into disrepute.

    (This was also when they finally realised they REALLY needed HR people.)

    1. Womble*

      Why did they think they REALLY needed HR people to deal with people getting it on in the toilets? The line managers weren’t up to the job of managing their people?

      I don’t normally feel sorry for HR people, but when I see the lengthy list of crap that everyone else seems to expect HR to take care of, my heart softens towards them.

  40. Erin*

    How do you not fire ALL of the people you ever heard quack? This is beyond words and reprimands.

    1. fposte*

      I know, right? I feel like I’d be some devil version of Oprah. “You get fired! And you get fired! And you get fired!”

        1. Joey*

          Those two get fired immediately. Then comes the hard part–trying to find out if anyone else needs to be fired

          1. Jamie*

            Yep. Everyone quacking should be looked into (what a weird phrase) but if there is no proof it’s like slowing down because a cop pulled someone else over. You were speeding too, but you didn’t get caught. Seeing someone else busted should cause others who were doing the same thing to modify their behavior.

          2. Traveler*

            I’d be tempted to try to turn the two I caught on the others for information. Especially to nail the ring leader, assuming he wasn’t one of the two caught.

      1. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

        I have been holding it together this entire thread, and somehow the mental image of Oprah yelling “You get fired! And you get fired!” is what did me in.

      2. bkanon*

        I was reading this entire thing with a mix of awe and horror, but thaaaaaaaaat line is what made me snicker into my coffee. Hot drink splashing on the hand, totally worth it.

    2. Poohbear McGriddles*

      Yeah, but I’d hate to be the guy who wasn’t in on it but started quacking because he heard everyone else doing it.

      1. The Strand*

        Agreed! I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of those folks quacking weren’t also ducking.

  41. Anonnynonny*

    When I was a Freshman in College our floor RA made an announcement to everyone to stop having sex in the shower stalls. She put her foot down, and that was for 18 y/o COLLEGE kids. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t put their foot down for employees doing something like this.

    1. Traveler*

      To be fair, an RA generally expects to have to worry about that sort of thing with fresh adults (18) who are experiencing pure unadulterated freedom for the first time and live in the place they are having sex.

      Having to tell employees to stop having a sex club at a place of employment when they presumably have held jobs and been trained for adulthood through college (admittedly with some dubiousness), is a little bit more unexpected and not something you’d expect to have a canned response for.

  42. Leah*

    OP, you mentioned other employees in the building saying “Quack” not just yours. This sounds like it goes beyond your team. Who knows, maybe this is bigger than you realize. If so, you wouldn’t have confront the employees and generally deal with this alone, which will probably be helpful.

    But yeah, these employees should be on zero-tolerance levels or fired. Nope nope nope.

  43. TotesMaGoats*

    The first rule of duck club is you don’t talk about duck club.

    Good lord above. OP, whatever “things” you need to put on/get in order to handle this situation post haste and NOW, you better do. Letting this linger one second longer will not be a good thing for YOU. The heck with your employees and your company. Your handling (or non-handling) of this situation reflects poorly on you as the manager. Loop your boss in NOW. Come up with a plan of action NOW. Fire the duckers….NOW. Then have a come to Jesus conversation with everyone else. Although I’m on board with firing everyone in the club, I’d start with the two that were caught. You need to seriously evaluate your management style.

    And second to that. You need to lock a door to sort out printing? Seriously? That’s such a contrived reason for putting a lock on a door.

    Thirdly, you are the manager. You get to break whatever “rules” you need to break to be effective in your job. What exactly do you have to be afraid of for opening a locked door to a shared space room? Evidently, that answer is seeing people have sex but still.

    And Alison, good luck getting us to bury the WTF Wednesday tag. With stories like this, it’s not gonna happen.

  44. illini02*

    I will say I’m a bit surprised at the amount people who are shocked by this. I’m not saying whether they should or shouldn’t be fired (I’d lean toward no on the first offense, but thats just me and I can understand the reasoning the other way). However, I do think this happens in workplaces more than you think. I can think of at least 3 former places of employment that I know people had sex in various places. Now whether or not it was during work hours is questionable, but I know it happened.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think people are shocked that it happens, I think they’re shocked that it’s so widespread and accepted.

    2. LBK*

      Whether it’s common or not it’s still pretty jarring to see or hear about it play out. I’m pretty sure if you caught two coworkers getting busy on a conference room table you wouldn’t just casually stroll out and move on with life because hey, happens everywhere, right?

    3. Cleopatra Jones*

      I’m not shocked that some young adults were having sex in the workplace (hell, I’ve even known some older adults who were having sex in the workplace) but I am shocked that the manager walked in on them and did absolutely nothing.
      At the very least, she should have disciplined them but she didn’t do anything about the egregious offense. She walked out of the room, blamed herself for walking into a locked room, and then went on as if was just an awkward moment between them.
      This wasn’t an awkward moment, accidentally farting in front of your co-workers is awkward. Getting caught having sex by your boss is grounds for serious discipline if not firing.

    4. land of oaks*

      I have worked on political campaigns and for super-counter-culturey nonprofits where there was a lot of sleeping around among coworkers, and even managers (which is another issue), and I didn’t think there was really a problem with it 95% of the time.

      But even then, NO ONE was having sex on site during working hours, and there was definitely not some kind of organized points system. Those two things take this beyond the pale and well into Oh-Hell-No territory for me. Disgusting and creepy. Way over the line. Way.

    5. Jen S. 2.0*

      I’m not shocked that people have had sex at work. But if you’re dumb enough to get caught having sex at work, you deserve what you get.

      Note: you can fill in that blank with a number of actions. I speed. I’m annoyed when I get a speeding ticket…but I knew good and well that the speed limit wasn’t 79, and I knew what would happen if I got caught.

  45. Snork Maiden*

    If your office has a sex club, you can be sure you’ve reached the ‘duck eating quackers’ phase.

  46. nona*

    You also probably need to take a look at who’s on your team, whether they belong there, and what kind of culture is in place that has allowed them to think this is (a) reasonable and (b) something that you wouldn’t notice. It is absolutely true that when you have a team of 10+ people who are all in their first professional job, weird pack behavior can develop.

    Or flock behavior.

    1. Kathlynn*

      ” people who are all in their first professional job”

      I think this part is unnecessary. I’ve noticed this at work, and we only have 8 people (excluding management) and omg, the clicks that form. And my boss wonders why I told complain to her. (dysfunctional workplace)

  47. Elder Dog*

    There’s no rule in any office I’ve ever worked in against going round and spitting in other people’s cups, but it would be a fire-and-walk-them-out-right-then offense anyway.

    There are just some things we don’t need “rules” about.

    1. Lipton Tea For Me*

      “There’s no rule in any office I’ve ever worked in against going round and spitting in other people’s cups, but it would be a fire-and-walk-them-out-right-then offense anyway. There are just some things we don’t need “rules” about.”

      Yeah, I’ve noticed this lately as well. It’s like folks think if it isn’t listed somewhere in black and white in the company handbook or bylaws, it is permissible. I see this type of behavior or “thinking” pattern in Congress as well, especially with the bill Congress passed that government employees cannot watch porn on their computers at work. Seriously? Who thought this was an activity that would have ever been acceptable at work? And just because this activity wasn’t specifically addressed in the “Code of Conduct”, why then did Congress spend so much money and effort to enforce something that management should have been aware of?

      It is like “Common Sense” is more a rare commodity than common anymore. To me it feels more of a generational issue than class or cultural…still interesting none the less.

  48. Serin*

    How does any work get done anywhere?

    On the other hand, this may be only slightly more disruptive than fantasy football.

    1. Serin*

      No, I thought that was all I had to say about this, but it’s not.

      Imagine being the least popular person in the Duck Club.

      Imagine being a person who didn’t want to sleep with your co-workers, but found that all the office’s socio-professional interaction revolved around the Duck Club, so that not participating meant you were on the outside of the all-important unofficial lines of communication.

      Imagine new hires being analyzed based on their Duck Club potential, and offered better or worse peer training based on how eager their peers were to get them into the club.

      Imagine what happens when some of them have been there long enough to get promoted, placing them in direct supervisory roles over people who are their Duck Club partners or rivals.

      Imagine being a new hire who was gay and not out to your co-workers.

      1. So Very Anonymous*


        And imagine someone sidling up to you your first week or month of work and telling you about Duck Club. What do you say? Do you ask your supervisor about it? How do you contextualize this? Are you being pranked? What kind of office thinks that’s a funny prank to pull on a new employee? In this, and all of Serin’s cases, it seems like there’s all kinds of potential to isolate non-Duck Club members, especially those who know about it and don’t want to participate.

        1. BananaPants*

          I wouldn’t even know what to say – is this coworker propositioning me, or just telling me about this “club”? My husband and I were engaged 6 months out of college. I would have been extraordinarily uncomfortable to learn that my coworkers were in a sex club and either I was expected/invited to join them, or was excluded and therefore socially isolated in my new workplace.

          This is just badness.

          1. Amanda*

            How would being engaged be part of the awkwardness? I was single right out of college and I would NOT have appreciated this kind of game.

      2. Sarah*

        Or imagine the unfortunate person who’s not interested in “putting out” at work and becomes the one you get 1000 points for if you “score”?!

    1. Joey*

      Almost positively no. Some things are so far out there they are almost universally considered misconduct (usually the bar to deny unemployment). Although the longer she waits to do it the likelier it becomes that they would qualify.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Interestingly in the UK there’s no bar for seeking unemployment for getting sacked.

    3. Traveler*

      I wondered about this. Particularly if the two employees could claim that they were “pressured” or “harassed” into duck club or that because it was so ubiquitous they felt they had to participate to fit in. Admittedly shaky ground to stand on but would it be possible?

  49. LizNYC*

    That points system is way off if you get nearly as many points for a locked copier room romp as you do for the president’s desk. Please, you can lock the copier room. Now a random storage closet with no lock? There’s a challenge! /sarcasm/

    Seriously, OP, it’s understandable that you’re embarrassed by this, but you did NOTHING wrong. And your staff is seriously messed up. Where did they go to school, Animal House?

    1. Abradee*

      This, plus the Simpsons reference in a comments section last week, are one of the many, many reasons why I love the commenters on this site.

  50. Joie de Vivre*

    OP, having been in the situation of having to fire 2 employees for having sex at work (in the stairway no less…. not even behind a locked door!), I can appreciate how uncomfortable this is for you. However, as is so often the case in management, your comfort level with the action that needs to be taken is not the priority here. It is your responsibility to maintain standards of professionalism.
    These two need to be fired, immediately. The rest of the staff needs to be told in no uncertain terms that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. Will it be awkward? Absolutely, but it still needs to be done.

    1. JMegan*

      your comfort level … is not the priority here.

      This. I don’t want to pile on, OP, but you really need to act on this, yesterday. The longer you wait, the more it will seem like you’re condoning the activity – and you can bet that everyone else in the Duck Club knows what happened that day, and they’re all waiting to see what will happen. And it’s a safe bet that your manager will find out eventually as well, and that will result in an uncomfortable conversation too. The discomfort isn’t going to go away until the situation is properly dealt with.

      After all, which conversation would you rather have with your manager? The one where you go to her and say “I saw people having sex in the office, and I think we need to do X,Y,Z to resolve it;” or the one where she comes to you and says “I heard that you knew about people having sex in the office, why didn’t you do anything to resolve it?”

      1. Can Do*

        Yes, the only consolation I am getting from this is the thought that all members of Duck Club have not had a good night’s sleep for a week.

      2. Ethyl*

        ::nodding in vigorous agreement:: Yeah, as with many things, putting off one uncomfortable thing creates a situation where there’s way MORE uncomfortable things to deal with. Rip off that band aid, OP!

  51. voluptuousfire*

    I just want to know what makes this team think that bonking their co-workers at work is acceptable? Professional violations aside, to think of the shenanigans gotten around the office…is it clean? Were they practicing safe sex? Those would be my two main concerns outside of the gross unprofessionalism of the team. Knowing that two of my team members could have had sex on my desk and the possibility of STIs and other infections being passed around my team would make me very angry as a manager. Just to think of a normal office that’s already a breeding ground for bacteria and germs and bodily fluids on top of it…yuck is an understatement.

    Escalate this to your higher ups and see if they’ll bring in a team of industrial cleaners.

  52. OP/letter writer*

    Thanks for the helpful comments. My supervisor and I are in the process of handling the situation and I’ll definitely write Alison to give her an update once it’s resolved. There are some details that we need to tread lightly on, which we are discussing on how best to handle everything.

    However, I was afraid to write in originally because of my fear of being embarrassed but I was also afraid of being judged and I can’t help but feel like some of the comments on here were judgmental. The ones about my ability to manage my team or questioning how well I do my job were especially hurtful. I don’t guess you can understand, unless you were in my situation, about how confusing this situation was and how long it took to process the whole thing. I had so many questions like, do I tell HR? which of my supervisors should I tell? Should I let the CEO know? Do I confront the offenders together, or separately? If there is a Duck club and it is what I think it is, how does the company put a stop to it if there are no names attached to the list and only two people caught in the act? If the people in this club wanted to continue, they could team up against me and it could be their word against mine and turn it around on me and say I was the one caught in the act, or soliciting them. When something is this weird and off the wall, one tends to become paranoid and extremely confused. They don’t prepare you for this in business school.

    Let me also say, I stand behind my comments that my team has a great work ethic and culture. Having a severe lack in judgment doesn’t necessarily preclude one from being a great worker, no? This was out of left field and I am working on dealing with it. We do plan to severely discipline, or fire the employees caught in the act, but as for the club there really is only the evidence of quacking and the page I found; which did not contain names.

    1. Joey*

      Exactly how can they have a great work ethic when they’re spending time playing this game at work? I know you caught them on break, but do you really think theres no attention paid to it during work

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        I had a conversation not long ago with someone about the fact that HR violations will get you fired faster than anything else. A just-okay performer who shows up on time every day, never makes waves, and keeps his head down can coast until retirement. A rock star performer with the highest numbers in the place gets caught stealing one time and gets the boot immediately. An employee can be great at their job AND capable of committing an HR violation that deserves immediate firing.

        You still should fire that person. You can find a great performer who doesn’t steal.

    2. jhhj*

      I wish you had put some of these details in your letter, because I think people would have understood these concerns (which are all understandable concerns) a lot more than “well, they are adults and can have legal sex with whomever they choose”.

      That said, I’m happy to agree your team has a great work ethic and are good workers. I disagree that they have a good work culture; any work culture that includes a sex game that gets you points depending on where at work you have sex is, if not toxic, at the very least extremely screwed up.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. At this point, I am just hoping that OP can draw out the best in everyone there and get through this crisis.

    3. illini02*

      I agree, especially with your last paragraph. I’m sure some people on here will jump to the judgmental “fact” that their poor decision making choice makes them a bad worker. But I’m with you, they can be great at their actual job. If someone is in sales, and they are rocking their numbers, the fact that they are screwing someone in the copy room doesn’t negate that fact. Also, the quacking, doesn’t mean people are participating. It just means they are aware of it (which again, some people would say means they deserve to be fired). You can be a married person and still find the situation funny even though you would never participate. I could see a guy doing the quack quack thing to a buddy signifying he is going to score some points. That doesn’t mean the buddy should be fired.

      There is a lot of judgment on you on this thread, and I feel bad for you about that.

      1. Kelly L.*

        They’re doing it at work though, which makes it different from doing it in their private life.

        I have this weird feeling there’s a proxy argument about something else going on here, just under the surface, and can’t put my finger on it.

    4. YandO*

      While I understand and sympathize, I really wish you would see these comments as an opportunity to yourself and the situation from an outside perspective.

      The letter laid out a situation where your lack of repression was alarming. We responded to the letter in front of us.

    5. tesyaa*

      The lack of judgment totally trumps the great work ethic. Lack of judgment can affect every aspect of one’s work. I wouldn’t trust these people with clients, for sure. Nor would I trust them with sensitive information.

      I don’t really understand your management structure, if you have multiple supervisors and you aren’t sure who to tell. I’d always go one level up the chain of command and take my direction from that person. And if I had a relationship with my direct manager where he or she would doubt my word on an issue like this, that would be a big problem.

      1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow*

        agreed. I would like to understand the management structure better as well

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        The lack of judgment totally trumps the great work ethic. Lack of judgment can affect every aspect of one’s work. I wouldn’t trust these people with clients, for sure. Nor would I trust them with sensitive information.

        Totally agree. I’m sitting here trying to think of a scenario where I would not fire these people, and I’m coming up empty.

        Even if these are star performers, I think the challenge is just the appallingly bad judgment here: this is so much Not A Thing You Do At Work, so their choice to engage in said activity would give me serious reservations about their ability to show reasonable judgment and make better decisions when confronted with less black and white issues on the job. I mean, if they thought this was okay, who knows how they’ll handle other issues where the right answer isn’t already clearly defined by generally accepted workplace norms?

    6. cuppa*

      I do want to say, that, despite all the joking around and criticism, thank you for writing in, OP. I think your situation is an extreme situation, but the advice that Alison writes here (that you need to deal with this type of situation, no it’s not acceptable in the workplace, not addressing things like this is bad, etc.) is applicable to a lot of other situations and I guarantee you that someone else is reading this and learning how to apply it to their own situation in the workplace. Don’t feel embarrassed or judged by struggling with an extreme situation.

    7. TCO*

      Thanks for the update, OP. I’m glad to hear this situation is being handled.

      I think that everyone here can sympathize with how shocking and difficult this situation must be. Yes, it’s a delicate situation, and no, they don’t teach this in business school. But relying on those black-and-white principles like rules and school lessons is getting in the way of your ability to quickly handle the situation. And make no mistake about it–time is of the essence in this case. It’s worrying that you ruminated over this for at least a few days before reaching out for help. A good boss (and maybe yours isn’t) would want to coach you through this situation immediately, not demand that you come with a fully-prepared plan of action days later. I hope this situation helps you refine your understanding of when it’s important to reach out for support quickly even if you don’t have a plan of action yet.

      I think this unexpected and challenging incident has highlighted some areas in which you should look to grow your management skills. We all have those areas and they tend to reveal themselves at inconvenient times–but now you have an opportunity to do something about them before the next tough incident. Good luck.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “they don’t teach this in business school.

        I tried asking about similar outrageous situations in one of my undergrad courses. The prof said “oh that never happens.” I guess if it never happens there is no need to teach it.

    8. Somewhere Over the Rainbow*

      LOL — although I can appreciate that you were writing in for help, OP, I really am baffled by the fact that you felt that you did something wrong by walking into the copy room and that you just felt confused about what to do…
      I honestly would have told them to get dressed and come to your office immediately so that there was no chance for this long and awkward period of doing nothing. I would have told them that sex at work is inappropriate for obvious reasons.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Seeing somebody you work with in a situation like thiscan be totally jarring. I agree on a surface level, but I think a lot of people might need at least quick mental break after seeing something so totally and blatantly inappropriate. Maybe not you, but everybody’s different.

        1. Traveler*

          Yes, and hearing OP explain their concerns about it being turned around on them? I can understand where they are coming from.

    9. Joey*

      Fwiw. I applaud you for not giving into your thoughts about sweeping it under the rug.

      Think about it this way. If you were the owner of the business don’t you think you couldn’t let this go? And don’t you think this is something that jeopardizes the whole culture of the office if left unchecked? And don’t you think it’s highly disrespectful, brazen to think its okay to do this in the office.

      Frankly, I’d be more understanding if it was a one time in the heat of the moment thing. The part that would really chap my hide is that they made a game out of it. Which means they deliberately played this game for a period of time and had multiple opportunities to shut it down. Obviously they continued meaning either they consciously disregarded the seriousness and inappropriateness of it or worse, it never entered their minds. Either way those aren’t the kinds of folks that you want on your team.

    10. LBK*

      I hope this isn’t taken as more judgment, but I do see a trend in your letter and in this comment of not trusting your authority as a manager.

      If the people in this club wanted to continue, they could team up against me and it could be their word against mine and turn it around on me and say I was the one caught in the act, or soliciting them.

      You don’t have to worry about this as a manager (assuming your fellow managers are decent). Managers are trusted by default by other managers; you never have to prove your case or worry about he said/she said scenarios. Trust that your manager and your peers will believe you when you say things about employees. If every manager had to have empirical proof that every statement they made was true, you’d never get anything done.

      I had so many questions like, do I tell HR? which of my supervisors should I tell? Should I let the CEO know? Do I confront the offenders together, or separately? If there is a Duck club and it is what I think it is, how does the company put a stop to it if there are no names attached to the list and only two people caught in the act?

      None of those questions preclude addressing the situation entirely, which is kind of what it sounded like you did. Rather than taking any immediate steps to at least somewhat address those questions, you just kind of froze, for an entire week! Have confidence in your judgment; you could probably suss out that you needed to at least tell your immediate supervisor and then go from there. Even if you’re not sure about which of 10 paths to walk down, you have to choose one eventually, and it’s better to take the first steps ASAP especially when it comes to discipline.

      When something is this weird and off the wall, one tends to become paranoid and extremely confused. They don’t prepare you for this in business school.

      I’m going to tell you a secret of management that they probably didn’t teach you in business school either: managers are humans, too. There’s no huge directory of how to address each managerial problem. Managers make decisions based on their own moral and business compasses. You’ll have all kinds of situations thrown at your that you won’t directly have encountered before. One of the reasons you get promoted to being a manager is because your judgment is trusted; that means you can make choices on your own without having to know what the “right” answer is or what the business school-approve response is.

      Overall, I’d say there’s a hefty dose of Imposter Syndrome here. It sounds like you don’t believe you’ve got the authority to make decisions like this. Don’t think about trying to match up to some paradigm of Being A Manager; you’re a human, and your natural decision making abilities have been judged to be worthy of being wielded with authority over others. That doesn’t mean you’ll never misstep, sure, but it means you’re not restricted to the letter of some written code. You’re writing the code now.

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree with your first point. I sincerely doubt that anyone OP tells about this will not believe him/her or give any credence to employee claims that it didn’t happen the way OP says it did. Good luck, OP! I don’t think it is you who should be worried about what happened here.

      2. grasshopper*

        Yes! All of this.

        Thanks to the OP for providing more details about the follow up.

        With all due respect to the trauma that the OP might be feeling because of what was seen in the copy room, it sounds like you are really doubting your own confidence as a manager. And I’m guessing that this lack of confidence as a manager happened before you opened the door to the copy room. In no way do I mean to say that your behaviour as a manager led to this (bad judgement by the participants led to Duck Club), but the participants might have felt that they could get away with it.

        You can’t say that this kind of situation wasn’t covered by school/training/HR policy. This is a common sense situation – having sex at work is bad. If you don’t demonstrate common sense and confidence to your staff, then how can you expect them to reflect it back to you?

      3. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher*

        On your first point, also, OP, the paranoia about the rest of the group “teaming up against you” just doesn’t really jive, to me, with your representation that this is an otherwise-good group of people to work with/supervise. It almost feels to me like your employees have created an atmosphere where they feel/act like “the cool kids” and you’re feeling (and acting?) like the outsider who isn’t cool enough to hang with them. I totally agree with LBK’s (and others’) assessment that you need to work on developing more confidence in your authority. Your employees may like you, but if they’re ducking in the office behind your back for points, and your first concern upon catching them is that they’re going to turn on you and get you in trouble, that says to me that they don’t respect you.

        1. fposte*

          And plus, if they team up against you, you can manage the situation–or fire the people. The power rests with you, OP, not with your employees.

          1. Editor*

            I hope the OP has the power to hire and fire. I spent years being the person who was supposed to manage the performance of two employees that I could not hire, fire, or otherwise discipline — they regularly ran to the head of the department with their issues because they knew I couldn’t even approve their vacation requests (the department head didn’t want to be bothered dealing with those two employees, but the department head was also determined not to lose one iota of power over anyone and was a very bad manager). If OP is in this kind of awkward pseudo-management situation, it makes sense not to have fired them on the spot.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Power is mostly an illusion, in that it is verrrry easy to perceive the other party as having power. The truth is each one of us has way more power than we ever imagined.

            OP, do the bosses have a history of not taking you at your word? Start there, insist on looking at facts, don’t look at all the possible things that could go wrong. Just look at facts.

      4. some1*

        So much this! Especially about the fact that the LW did nothing because she didn’t know what to do or whom to tell.

        I am not a manager but I have been there through a similar situation where something completely off the wall happened at work and I didn’t know what to do. I told a peer and he suggested that I tell my boss immediately even just to cover my butt.

        It’s okay not to know what to do when something this batsh*t happens. It’s not okay to not find out.

        1. LBK*

          It’s okay not to know what to do when something this batsh*t happens. It’s not okay to not find out.


        2. jag*

          “It’s okay not to know what to do when something this batsh*t happens. It’s not okay to not find out.”


        1. frequentflyer*

          Agreed. I can understand OP needing some time to think about the consequences of the possible paths of action to be taken.

    11. Mike C.*

      Since you’re here, please scroll down to my comment about hygiene and biohazards. You could have a serious health issue on your hands that needs to be taken care of RIGHT NOW.

      1. Mike C.*

        And look, I get that this is a really, really extreme situation for a newish manager and one that few if any managers will ever deal with in their entire careers. You didn’t know what to do, and you asked for help, awesome. But as you can see, you need to act.

        Have you talked to HR yet? Have folks continued to have sex? Is there any concrete reason to believe that you won’t be trusted, or are your fears due to being thrown into a crazy situation?

      2. fposte*

        I really don’t buy this. People sleep in hotel beds and sit on hotel couches where people have had sex all the time, and it’s not considered a health hazard but a personal squick, which I think is appropriate. I also don’t think OSHA gives a damn.

        1. Jamie*

          This may be on low OSHA’s list of things to investigate, but it is in the standard and as such an employee who heard about it after the fact could file a legitimate report with them. Whether it would amount to anything or not who knows, but dealing with any kind of OSHA investigation is a total pita.

          From OSHA .gov standard 1910.1030

          “A1. The standard applies to all employees who have occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).

          Occupational exposure is defined as reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials that may result from the performance of an employee’s duties.

          Blood is defined as human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood.
          Other potentially infectious materials is defined as the following: saliva in dental procedures; semen; vaginal secretions; cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, pericardial, peritoneal, and amniotic fluids; body fluids visibly contaminated with blood; along with all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids; unfixed human tissues or organs (other than intact skin); HIV-containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV- or HBV-containing culture media or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV.

          Emphasis mine. A quick google shows it can go either way. They can rule that it contact with substances wasn’t anticipated in the normal duties or argue that if the risk of exposure was known it placed a burden to contain the contamination. Depends on the interpretation of the person taking the report.

          In manufacturing we’re under the blood borne pathogens standard (in case of accidents) but not every workplace is – depends on the risk. OHSA absolutely has rules for housekeeping in hotels handling linen due to risk of exposure of bodily fluids and nothing noting that the danger passes after a length of time. I was looking for an official chart from the CDC on how long this kind of thing can live on surfaces.

          I do get that sitting on the couch in the copy room is no different than sitting on a bedspread in a hotel room (for those who don’t strip those off immediately) or touching anything else in there and there’s not an epidemic of people contracting stuff. But as the risk is greater than zero (mucus membrane exposure, breaks in skin) it would still be a valid report to OSHA and cause a whole lot of headache to close out.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        At OldJob, someone else once commented that they had found a pubic hair on the boardroom table, I can’t remember if this was during or after a client meeting. Even if there aren’t any bodily fluids *shudders* there could be other things left behind like that or undies gone astray. Hell, a good non-firing punishment for suspected members of the Duck Club that were not caught ducking might be to clean the areas described on the points sheet, or to pay for extra thorough cleaning crews.

    12. LAI*

      Hey OP, thanks for the follow-up! I totally sympathize with you about not knowing how to handle this situation. I can’t imagine what I would have done if I had been in your shoes because you’re totally right – nothing prepares you for this. I think what most of the posters were responding to was your statement in your original letter that you wanted to sweep it under the rug. I spent a little time in a management position and one of the things I struggled with is that I really didn’t want to do some of the things I knew I had to do – I had to force myself to have difficult conversations and I had to take actions that were going to upset people. I did them anyway because that’s your job as a manager. I’m glad that you’re talking to your supervisor and dealing with the issues now!

    13. UK Alice*

      ” but as for the club there really is only the evidence of quacking and the page I found; which did not contain names.”

      If there was ever a good reason to search through employee emails / chat / IM history this is it. If they’ve been doing this for a while someone will have ducked up and sent something incriminating from work email or a work phone, if you have them. I don’t like the idea of a witch hunt, but this needs to be stamped out!

      1. Mike C.*

        Not to mention the fact that the two folks who were caught may be willing to offer up names – if I were in their shoes I wouldn’t want to be the only one fired.

        1. Elsajeni*

          Maybe, but I also wouldn’t want to rely on two people who I know for a fact have terrible professional judgment, and who know they’re about to be fired, to give me an accurate picture of the situation. If they offer up names, use them as a starting point for further investigation, but I wouldn’t take them as gospel.

    14. Dasha*

      OP you were in a really crazy situation and I know if I were you, I would have been in a major state of shock!

    15. Sunflower*

      I can see where you were coming from in the letter. You obviously sound like a manger who doesn’t want to get involved in co-workers personal lives and that’s a great thing. I know this blog strongly leans towards staying out of personal things that don’t affect work(and 9/10 that’s the right choice) so I can see where you were struggling a bit how to handle this. I think people were confused because you seemed to know and believe what they were doing was wrong but you were looking for excuses to stay out of it and that’s something that as a manager, you just can’t do. Managers have to have uncomfortable talks all the time and if you let your shyness get in the way, it’s not going to end well. I also hope you realize that they broke many rules and whatever strange rule you have in place about the copy room, is 1000% trumped by what you found when you got in there.

      There are a lot of things that make people good at their job but it doesn’t make them a good employee. Often times being brass or rude might make you good at parts of your job but it might make people hate you as well. There are limited roles where your lack of judgement will not affect your work in some way. I also think they showed you how much they DON’T value their jobs.

    16. Prismatic Professional*

      Thank you for writing in. It did take a great deal of courage to read through all the comments, so good job on that! :-) I hope this works out well. Don’t forget to take care of yourself too – do what ever rejuvenates you (for me, that is painting). This sounds like a situation that could linger for a while and you need to have all your emotional reserves available! :-)

    17. Isabelle*

      OP, what about the other employees who are not in your team that you witnessed quacking as well?
      Are you and your supervisor going to address this with their manager?
      At this point you should get IT involved and search everyone’s email, IM etc… for evidence of this duck club. This needs to be addressed at office level and not just team level.

      Make sure HR and your legal department are informed about this too. Imagine if even just one person claims that they were pressured to join in the duck club and they felt that the company condoned it.

    18. JMegan*

      Sorry, I wrote my reply above before I saw this. I know it’s a tricky situation, and I don’t doubt you were embarrassed. And I’m glad to hear you’re acting on it.

      One of the things about managing people – or about any job, really – is knowing what you don’t know, and knowing when it’s appropriate to ask for help. And something like this is so wildly outside the norm, that asking for help really is the most appropriate thing you could have done. Ideally, you would have taken some time (an hour or two, at most) to collect yourself, and gone to your boss the same day. Even if you didn’t have all the answers, or even if you didn’t have any of them. Like you said, there are some things you don’t learn in business school!

      Anyway, good luck getting this all sorted out, and please keep us posted on the outcome.

    19. Alma*

      It is time to call the IT folks to look for “non-work-related” messaging on phones and computers. Perhaps if the other participants admit their involvement before they are found out by the IT sleuths, the CEO would put them on triple-secret probation instead of firing them. If they don’t step up, and are found to be complicit, they are fired on the spot.

    20. HRChick*

      Well, I don’t think you can say that employees have a great work ethic if they’re playing sex games in the office. They might be hard (hehe) workers, but they are certainly aren’t ethical.

      And by participating in these games, they’re creating a bad work culture – one based on appearance, sexuality and disrespect to their employer and managers. So, I think you’re greatly mistaken on both those points.

      I think you also have to remember that responders here were reacting to your original letter – which erred on the side of doing nothing. Doing nothing is about the worst response you could possibly have done.

      As for your other points – when something like this happens, ALWAYS TELL HR! Reporting it immediately to HR will result in:
      – You getting advice on what to do
      – HR helping you get together and paperwork/letters you need for termination, etc
      – HR telling you who you need to report this to
      – HR being able to develop and send out a “work place behavior” policy so it WILL be in black and white that this is a fireable offense (and also letting the Duck Club know they are on to them and they are going to take action).
      – HR being able to vouch that you reported it immediately and were not a participant in the club

      By not immediately reporting it, you’ve put your participation and behavior into question. At the very least, it looks like you were well aware that this was happening and gave complacent approval. What if this person does get fired? Is he going to say, “letter writer know about it and didn’t do anything for weeks!”? That doesn’t look good for you.

    21. fposte*

      OP, I understand it’s tough to hear when people think you’re not doing what you should do, and I’m glad to hear that you’re moving forward on this.

      But I’m still concerned that in both your original post and this one, you seem really anxious about taking action and really uncertain about how to do it if there isn’t a preordained rule or path to follow. It could be that this is because your workplace or other workplaces you’ve been in are particularly punitive, but it sounds like you’re really afraid of drawing on your own judgment and considering that doing nothing is preferable to making a mistake.

      And those things are problems for a manager. Most of managing is you making your own decisions that don’t come from rules or guidelines; I’m at a hugely bureaucratic state institution and that’s *still* true for me. And sure, there are situations where a mistake is worse than doing nothing, but overall in management doing nothing is a bigger mistake than doing something slightly less than ideal, and it’s really important to be able to make mistakes and survive them. “Do I tell HR?” and “Which of my supervisors should I tell?” are not important enough questions to delay action for. Tell ’em all, tell the closest, whatever. But the longer it takes to tell anybody, the more the delay outweighs the issue of who gets told.

      I get it’s a lot easier for me to say from a distance and when I’m not dealing with employees screwing in my copy room, and it’s true that I haven’t encountered anything as horrific as this among my employees. But I think that there’s stuff to learn here about management from this experience that’s worth your thinking about, once you have a chance to breathe and the dust settles. I hope this mess gets cleared up, and good luck to you in future.

    22. Nea*

      it could be their word against mine and turn it around on me and say I was the one caught in the act, or soliciting them.

      There’s DNA on the couch and it isn’t yours…

  53. Stephanie*

    Two of my coworkers always yell “Caw!” each other. And we have a locked copy room…Gah.

    1. Stephanie*

      I’m at work now and the “Caw!” guys are doing their thing. I almost started giggling uncontrollably when one patted the other’s back.

      (I need more to do at work.)

  54. Scott*

    ugh… you’re so prude… let kids be kids…

    All joking aside, and though this is pretty damn funny, they’re doing this because they think they can get away with it. It needs to be stopped. If they want to “duck” each other, there’s nothing you can really do. They just can’t “duck” each other on company time.

    1. lowercase holly*

      ya, seriously, make them go pick other public places that aren’t in the office if that’s what gives them kicks.

  55. CNW*

    To echo what others have said – OP, you need to talk about this – this is not a “sweep under the rug scenario.” I’m not sure of what the organizational structure is there but if you feel that you are too embarassed to discuss this with the offenders on your own, tell your manager and then the two of you can discuss this with them. You’ll need to address the specific incident where you walked in on them having sex, AND the Duck Club. I think you could have the conversation with them separately, rather than together, but I would have your boss there (or another same level manager with you.) After this conversation, you’ll also need to talk to the rest of your team. Managing people is really difficult, and you have to put aside your own shyness or embarassment for the good of the company and your employees. I wish you the best of luck – but you need to deal with this immediately. Please send us an update!!

  56. JoJo*

    I’d have IT go through their emails and get any security footage of people entering places they don’t belong before confronting them.

  57. TT*

    I would love to have been a fly on the wall when those two came out of the copy room. Not being ready to address that in the moment is totally understandable, but OP should have been ready to deal with them by the time they got out.

    And really….how long did it take them to come out of that room? It better not have been more than the 45 seconds it takes to pull your pants back up.

  58. Owen Bytheway*

    Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I’ve got to plead ignorance on this. If I had any idea that this sort of thing was frowned upon…

  59. JB not to be confused with BJ*

    How can you expect your staff to respect you as a manager if you just blatently ignore something like this? Doing so is just sending the message that this behavior is essentially Allowed within the office.
    Wake up and assert yourself, girl.

    1. Dana*

      Putting myself in the duckers’ shoes — my manager walks in on us having sex. Turns around and leaves. Doesn’t address it. Not when caught in the act, not after I leave the copy room, not even before I go home that day. The amount that I respected them as an authority figure (while albeit not very high in the first place if that’s how I’m spending my lunch) just plummeted to zero. I don’t know how you can manage those two after that if they’re not terminated.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        If I ever had had a lapse in judgement that large, I would have quit on the spot if the ground hadn’t mercifully opened up and swallowed me whole first. But, some people might freak out and wonder when the hammer is going to fall, start destroying evidence and get the story straight with the other club members (or perhaps start calling around looking for a new job immediately). As others have commented, the company could be scouring e-mail, checking texts, looking for footage and other evidence of this going on — getting their ducks in a row. If these people are brazen enough to start a sex club for points at work, it would not surprise me that they might think of suing for wrongful dismissal. At this point, it’s a he said/she said kind of situation considering the OP didn’t run hyperventilating to HR immediately. Certain people are convinced of their gift of gab/personal gifts that they can talk their way out of anything. “OP was confused, yes we were making out on the couch during lunch, but we weren’t having sex… she has an active imagination/is a dried up old biddy who is jealous/made a pass at me earlier that I refused and now she’s just making up stories to get me fired because she’s embarrassed.” So to a certain extent, I can see how the OP would have some concerns about not being believed.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, maybe it could go this way.
          But, OP, you could also report it and find out that someone else has complained about the sex club. Or you could find out that they have been investigating it for weeks now.

          But, okay, let’s talk worst case scenario. You report it and no one does anything. You have put down the ground work for the next report. There will be another report because someone will get ticked off and spill. Meanwhile, you and the couple KNOW for a fact that you are not lying. Tell them if it ever happens again, you won’t bother closing the door.
          If they say “we were on our breaks” then say “that is irrelevant because you are on company property and location trumps everything else.”
          If they say “oh we never did this before”. Then say, “Good. Don’t ever do it again, because all of upper management saw my report so everyone is aware. If you are caught again, there will be lots of problems”. (Go ahead and bluff here, if need be, the behavior needs to stop. You do not have to know for a fact there will be problems.)
          And tell them they have to use the copier itself, one person at a time and they must leave the door open while using the copier. “Oh, you are treating us like children.” You have proven that I cannot trust you to behave like adults.

          Preferably, you would know the limits of your leadership and know if you can fire people. I had a job where I was told I could not fire. Then one day I was instructed to fire someone. That became a whole issue itself. If you work for this type of employer, you need to look at these issues separately from this current issue.

  60. Mike C.*

    Here’s another concern – hygiene and biohazards. Now that you know your office has been turned into a sex club, how do you know someone hasn’t been “scoring points” on your desk? The desk you just set your hand on. Your chair? In the meeting room. Break room. Kitchen. Lobby. Stairwell. What’s that faint stain on the carpet from? Has it always been there, or did you just now notice it? Oh, is that a paper cut on your finger? Did you just rub your eye? Did your coworkers properly clean up and sanitize their areas? Every single time? Are you sure?

    Think about every flat surface in your office, or every place two (or more?!) people could congregate in close quarters. Now imagine they’ve scored points at one time or another. I know I get a little paranoid about safety issues, but normal office cleaning doesn’t take this sort of issue into account. You don’t know how clean your coworkers have been, and you don’t know the sexual and health histories of your coworkers.

    If I were an employee here, and I knew the management wasn’t kicking everyone out to have the place cleaned, I would report your workplace to OSHA.

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t always agree with you on everything, but when it comes to safety stuff we’re always on the same page. This was my first thought as well.

      Someone get one of those lights they use on hotel room exposes to scan for fluids? Because that needs to be done and if there is stuff anywhere it needs to be addressed the way you’d deal with blood borne pathogens – I’m shocked this wasn’t done immediately and other unsuspecting people (as there is no way everyone is in this club) were allowed to use the copy room uninformed.

    2. Anonsie*

      I… Hesitate to disagree with this because it will probably make me sound nasty, but I think the risk difference between the surfaces in this office and the surfaces anywhere else is minimal to nonexistant. For one, a lot more things in your day to day have a lot more awful fluids on them than you realize. People’s spit and hands, from not covering their mouth or not washing or whatever, are the things that cause the most problems. It’s partly due to frequency of contact and what part of you has contact and partly due to what can live on surfaces and if they can even spread that way… Yadda yadda. I could get pretty graphic in my illustration but I think the regular readership here would not appreciate it, so I’ll leave it.

      I mean, I’m not saying DON’T wipe everything down, no reason not to do that. Just don’t get worked up about it or go over the top with how much gets sanitized. And you have nasty things floating around on the public surfaces in your office all the time and they should be wiped down periodically anyway. I think if you called OSHA or suggested this was actually a health and safety issue to any other regulatory body, they would have a good chuckle. But maybe not, IANAL. I am someone who works in an industry with a lot of bodily fluids and biohazards, though.

      But get rid of that sofa, even if you autoclaved it it’s still That Sofa.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I also work in an industry that has to think about bodily fluids and biohazards, and I’d be less worried about the chances of someone (a non-member of the Duck Club, anyway) catching anything from this than I would be about people not washing their hands when they’re sick. Not to say that there’s no chance, but the chance is really really small – the kinds of things you’re worrying about don’t survive well outside the body.

        Having said that, I’d be bleaching everything in sight anyway, but more for the “OMGSOGROSS” response than for any real fear of contagion. Because this is OMGSOGROSS. Ick!

        1. Anonsie*

          Pretty much my thoughts, yep. I actually did peek at OSHA’s exact code for sanitation of work environments that don’t typically deal with bodily fluids as part of the normal work day, and it gives a big fat generic “places of employment shall be kept clean to the extent that the nature of the work allows.”

          1. Womble*

            I don’t think I’m stretching the limits of credibility in claiming that “the nature of the work” almost certainly “allows” that the “place of employment” can be kept clean of sexual fluids.

        2. Chinook*

          I am another one who doesn’t think there is a legit safety hazard due to latent body fluid, but from an optics point of view, non-participating coworkers would probably appreciate it if the office got a thorough scrub down. Cuz EWWW!!!

      2. Mike C.*

        I spent several years in a laboratory setting dealing with food borne illness.

        The reason to “get worked up” is to get something done about the issue now. Yes, I don’t expect anyone to get sick, but once you open the door to biohazards, the rules completely change. The risk here doesn’t come from the chance of infection, it comes mainly from the fact that this is a completely unexpected hazard for the folks working here.

        If you’re in the industry, you have the training, equipment, experience and expectation of biohazard issues. Furthermore, no one in your industry is trying to actively hide the activities leading to the release of these bodily fluids or you know to check for such issues. This isn’t the case for your typical office.

        OSHA isn’t going to be happy to find out that management knew of an unknown number of biohazard issues and didn’t do or say anything to ensure that employees were kept safe.

        1. jag*

          “Yes, I don’t expect anyone to get sick, but once you open the door to biohazards, the rules completely change.”

          Oh come on. “Biohazards” in an office is a continuum. Feces on unwashed hands are a biohazard we’re all exposed to. It’s worth trying to deal with it by having people wash their hands (in food service and some other industries it’s legally mandated). But we don’t know for sure in most offices if everyone is doing this carefully enough but we don’t start emphasizing the possibly serious issue in our office.

          Plus saliva all around us.

          Someone else wrote something that’s perfect on this: “Yeah, I mean… if you’ve stayed in a hotel, you have almost certainly touched furniture and surfaces that people have had sex on and that hasn’t been cleaned particularly well.”

            1. Anonymouse*

              A former coworker needed to pay his bill, so he removed his shoe, took out some cash and handed it to me– damp with perspiration.

        2. MAB*

          I work with FBD also and I am less conserned about someone having sex on my chair then someone spitting in my drink. You have to look at how long the virus or bacteria will live outside their host enviorment. HIV for example can’t easily be spred by sitting on the same toilet seat as an infected person or chlamydia only lives for a few minutes outside the body. Even with FBD they have to live in the correct enviorments to grow. A chair, unless there is a harborage for the bacteria or virus in question AND the pathogen can gain a great enough log to cause and issus AND you do oral, mucus membrain or open wound contact, isn’t going to cause someone to become ill. Should they clean up. Yes. Should they remove the couch. Yes. Is the whole office biohazard? No.

      3. Elsajeni*

        Yeah, I mean… if you’ve stayed in a hotel, you have almost certainly touched furniture and surfaces that people have had sex on and that hasn’t been cleaned particularly well. No one goes around steam-cleaning the chair cushions between every guest, changing the bedding doesn’t get rid of anything that may have soaked into the mattress, etc. It’s gross and I don’t recommend thinking about it too hard, but ultimately, it’s the same kind of incidental exposure you get if you shake hands with people or sit on the couch at someone else’s house, and I’d put it in the category of “maybe technically a biohazard, but not the kind anyone, including OSHA, is worried about.”

        1. Jamie*

          I agree the risk of real damage to others from this is minimal. But in work perception is huge and the intense visceral revulsion is real even if the threat is scientifically null. And politics in many places…”so you can know there was the likelihood of semen and other fluids on a couch and not warn us, but my microwaving fish/wearing too much perfume/flossing at my desk/etc. is “gross.””

          Even if there is no actual danger due to time passed people want to see steps taking to clean it.

          You are 100% right on us touching stuff all the time – I’m so much happier when I’m not thinking about it. It’s the knowing. The random stuff in the day to day world, hotel rooms, etc is totally valid – but the ick factor is raised by orders of magnitude when you can put names and faces to the invisible stain creators.

          1. Elsajeni*

            Oh, for sure, they should get rid of that couch and maybe schedule a more-thorough-than-usual visit from the company’s cleaning service. It’s just the safety/regulatory concern that Mike C.’s suggesting that I don’t think is real; I 100% agree that there is a clear and present grossness here.

            1. Anonsie*

              Agreed on all points. By all means clean up, even if only for the reassurance (even if you could sterilize that sofa completely, no one wants to keep it I’d bet), but this isn’t a compliance issue in your average workplace.

          2. jag*

            ” But in work perception is huge and the intense visceral revulsion is real”

            This is certainly true, but it’s also exacerbated by people emphasizing it. Let’s not do that.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t think OSHA cares if people have sex in offices, though.

      I assume there’s been sex in much of my workplace–there are couches and carpets and what not.

      1. Mike C.*

        They certainly care about biohazards, and the bodily fluids generated by sexual activities all count.

        1. fposte*

          Says who? Not finding that OSHA does. Even some blood materials aren’t considered regulated wastes, and, as discussed before, nor are feces and urine.

          If this were really the standard, you’d have to close down every public library in the country.

          1. Traveler*

            I’ve wondered how the blood thing works for janitors or garbage men. How often does someone toss a bloody bandaid in the trash or drop it on the floor? Are the disposals in women’s bathroom stalls considered biohazards?

            So true about the libraries, and most public places really.

            1. AnotherAnon*

              There are a few diseases (mostly viruses that are non-enveloped) that can be spread through contact with dried blood. I don’t think used menstrual pads that are placed in a waste bag pose a real risk, though. If in doubt, dried blood can be disinfected with bleach. But in general, the chance of a janitor catching an infection from handling dried blood with gloved hands (or even intact skin) is pretty low. The real danger are needle sticks (especially for health care workers serving Hep A, B, or C+ or HIV patients) that allow infectious agents to directly penetrate skin and access tissues or the bloodstream. There are very few bugs out there that can cause a systemic illness through intact skin. The vast majority need some way in – needle stick, wound, mucous membrane, etc.

              1. Jamie*

                Yep. I’ve seen people fired for throwing a capped syringe in the trash (diabetic) instead of the hazardous waste container mounted on the wall for that very purpose. I agree with that.

                Good question about the sanitary items – I don’t know off hand any rules about that. I do think, though, that if it’s your job to empty bathroom garbage cans that’s a known hazard and I’d expect people who do that for a living follow safety precautions. In a less formal aspect it applies to hotel rooms, also. In a hotel room the common sense expectation is that you could be touching someones dried…stuff. So you can take care not to touch your face, wash your hands frequently, or depending on how much it bothers you do your own disinfecting and wear gloves.

                It would be unreasonable for people to claim they didn’t know there was a risk of …dried fluids…in a hotel room. But I do think it’s perfectly reasonable to assume there isn’t a risk of that in a workplace so more of a risk of touching something and then your mucus membranes.

                The risk of infection is likely minimal…the risk of someone in the workplace being squicked out enough to make this a big problem for the company is definitely not minimal.

                My opinion may be colored by the facts that not only am I personally squicked beyond what science tells me is rational, but I’ve seen completely unfounded complaints take up tons and time and resources…and people get bent out of shape to the point of disruption over way less than this.

                1. fposte*

                  The OSHA report I found in looking was talking about menstrual materials, and it said they are not “regulated waste.”

                  When this gross stuff comes up here people talk about training the staff that deals with it, but honestly most places I know have nothing of the sort. It’s certainly not legally required across the board. I get that this really grosses people out and I support everybody’s right to try to get TPTB to clean the place after something like this, but in most workplaces, there’s not likely to be any force of law behind it.

    4. Traveler*

      I’m totally grossed out with this. I would be thrilled if after I found out, my work went around cleaning all the surfaces just for the mental side of it.

      But… do you realize how often people have sex everywhere in public? If you leave your house, you’re constantly being subjected to biohazards. Movie theaters and bars and other places where this sort of thing is typical don’t bring in biohazard crews on a nightly basis.

    5. AnotherAnon*

      Most sexually-transmitted diseases can only be transmitted directly from one mucous membrane to another mucous membrane. That is because viruses causing STDs (HIV, herpes) have lipid envelopes around them that require moist conditions to be spread (i.e. not like your friendly enterovirus that lacks an envelope and can be spread through touching doorknobs or shared surfaces) (as an aside: the influenza virus is enveloped but capable of respiratory droplet transmission – STD-causing viruses are not capable of this either!). Most bacteria-causing STDs (Chlamydia, N. gonorrhea, etc.) are similar – they cannot penetrate intact, dry skin, and they cannot survive on inanimate surfaces, especially ones that are disinfected.

    6. Ellie H.*

      I don’t really think this is an issue. It has an “ick” factor but honestly doorknobs etc. are grosser. The chance anyone could catch an STD from touching an office surface seems comically, absurdly small.
      I have a very high bar for such things (probably moreso than most people) but I don’t think it would even bother me to continue to use the same couch.

      1. RP*

        but honestly doorknobs etc. are grosser

        I’m willing to bet money that there’s no sink in that copy room, which means anything that got on their hands is now all over everything they touched immediately after, including the door knob.

        1. Ellie H.*

          Not to be gross, but the worst thing the hand could have touched is sexual body fluids. Many people don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom. That is grosser to me than sexual body fluids. It has an ick factor, but you are not any likelier to get any kind of illness.

  61. Kat A.*

    I’d fire them both, though separately, and would have the office locks changed and the new keys to employees marked with “Do Not Copy.”

  62. Juni*

    Does anyone else get the sense that once the OP does report it – now a few days after the fact – that he or she is going to be asked to resign along with the Duck Club participants? I mean, with a severance package contingent on a big NDA? The Duck Club members will get fired, and she’ll be asked to resign.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, that makes no sense, and it opens up the company to an actual wrongful termination lawsuit.

        1. Joey*

          Well not to mention firing the manager would show employees that the company punishes those who report this stuff.

          1. Jamie*

            YMMV – my take away would be that the company has zero tolerance for ignoring/delaying the reporting of potential major liabilities. Depends on how it’s communicated.

      2. The IT Manager*

        Because her poor decision to pretended it didn’t happen for several weeks instead of dealing with it exposes her as a terrible manager?

        1. LBK*

          It sounds like it was one week, not several, and while that’s not great either I think it makes a difference. I’d say a stern discussion about how to handle unusual situations is in order, for sure, but firing sounds ridiculously extreme to me without an existing pattern of sweeping serious issues under the rug.

        2. Mike C.*

          It could be that this workplace didn’t properly prepare and educate their management on how to deal with sexual harassment issues and proper compliance with the law. Every training I’ve ever seen is very explicit on what to do, who to report to and so on – the fact that the OP had no idea who to talk to leads me to believe that this sort of training simply isn’t in place. I could be wrong though.

        3. Juni*

          This is sort of where I was going with this. Not so much that she’s exposed as a terrible manager, but that she let it go a week or more without moving it up the chain, which is sort of the “aiding and abetting” of the HR world. Not every company would do this, of course, but I could see her being offered a severance and good reference in exchange for an NDA.

          1. Jamie*

            Just out of curiosity why do you think severance and an NDA would be in order? Unless it was a special circumstance where the company would be publicly embarrassed if it hit the media I don’t see why an NDA would be warranted…or severance at all.

            As it is if the two who did this get fired, as they should, and file for unemployment it’s already a complication to the unemployment hearing. The whole thing starts off with what happened, when, how discovered, and how addressed. The week or so between discovery and reporting will need to be explained to prove it wasn’t company (as an entity) indifference.

            Not saying they would win, but it’s one more thing the labor atty will have to address rather than this being a slam dunk if it was processed immediately. Even in my area where employees get every benefit of the doubt and gross misconduct is a high bar sex in the office clears it – it’s now unnecessarily complicated.

        4. The IT Manager*

          The LW wrote it happened last week – could be last Friday – but last week translates as a week. Then sent a letter to Alison and is seeing the response now. Alison has admittted that she has quite a letter queu and doesn’t usually (this could be an exception) respond immediately so we need to add some time to that week … now we’re getting to over 1 week.

          I was also speculating on Juni’s reason for saying a manager could be let go for a long period of in action after witnessing such an unprofessional act.

            1. The IT Manager*

              Cool! I always wonder about the timeline in time sensitive post especially when LW’s show up and says since I wrote the letter I did this/this happened.

              Did you use your quick advice as the basis of this response?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes — I basically sent the 3rd and 4th paragraphs of my response here last week. Then wrote the rest when I had time for the longer response.

    1. Jamie*

      I think this could be a possibility – at the very minimum management coaching.

      I know the OP was embarrassed and I’m not trying to be a jerk, but upper management would be correct to have some serious concerns that thinking they were clocked out and consenting adults had anything to do with this. Not addressing that or the list immediately created a situation in which unsuspecting people were (in the case of the copy room) or were potentially (in the case of the other locations) working in and touching areas where people other people had/may have had sex. Not to mention co-workers having sex in the office creates a really uncomfortable work environment for those who are just doing their jobs. If the club is real and it’s many people having sex often it could absolutely rise to the level of hostile work environment (depending on the circumstances.) Managers don’t have the option to ignore issues which have real potential to create liabilities for the company.

      In companies with safety policies concerning blood borne pathogens it is often a fire able offense to know there was contamination not cleaned per procedure and say nothing. This is very similar.

      I would have been shocked and no doubt blurted out something to the effect of ‘get dressed and come to my office’ and absolutely there would have been a team meeting where I showed the list (which I’d have confiscated) and demanded an explanation.

      A specific desk was mentioned and the person wasn’t even notified. If someone thought a diabetic had possibly used my trash can to toss a used capped syringe and didn’t tell me I’d be insisting tptb do something about it even if the danger to me was minimal – no one has the right to assume that risk for me when it comes to hazardous waste.

      I’m not saying the OP is a bad person – we all handle things badly at some point in our careers and we learn from them; but if this was me there is no doubt in my mind I’d be fired the second tptb couldn’t trust my judgement when it comes to liabilities. A more junior manager and it might not be the same case, but the responsibilities of reporting would need to be addressed in training or over-sight.

      1. brightstar*

        Nice to see you back, Jamie!

        I do think OP needs some coaching in management, and I don’t mean to be judgmental. But things should have been addressed quickly with at least the 2 discovered having sex. and I’m someone who usually need some time to think things over. Hopefully OP brought this to one of her managers quickly m

        My office has a copy room that locks but never is. There’s a chair but no sofa. For large print jobs, IT can lock the printer down to avoid mixed pages.

        Managing is hard and sometimes it just sucks. You have to have uncomfortable conversations. You have to make tough decisions. And getting help in how to deal with certain things like not believing in your own authority is sometimes needed.

      2. NickelandDime*

        I really like this response. I’m not trying to be a jerk either, but I was concerned about how defensive the OP was. As if they didn’t understand how outrageous it was, and the liability it could put the company in. I know managers that have been fired for not reporting things of this nature. FIRED. I don’t see the comments as judgmental so much as trying to get the OP to see how crazy this all really is.

    2. HRChick*

      I’d write her up and get her more training (management, sexual harassment, company reporting policies, etc), but not fire her.

  63. Fight! Win!*

    I think I know why the OP is so focused on the rules. I can relate to her, as someone who does not like giving critical feedback, and highly values a team dynamic. I recently transitioned from a job where the teamwork dynamic was effective – I was a day to day manager, yet not responsible for hiring and firing. My new job contains significantly more influence, as I conduct performance reviews (though the final HR decision still rests with my boss). I had to step it up fast, as I quickly realized the teamwork approach would not work here. It was extremely difficult, but giving critical feedback, maintaining professional distance, immediately addressing problems – they are skill sets and come more easily with practice. My concern for OP is that she has not yet recognized that keeping everyone happy is not the only valuable output of a manger. That goal will shoot right down the priority list in certain settings, such as this one.
    I can relate about the rules because it deflects attention from the manager being the bad guy. (“So sorry, my hands are tied, because that’s the rule.”) Then you don’t have to be the terrible individual ruining someone’s life by firing them, etc. However, part of our job is to keep the business effective and aligned with ethics. It is far more important to defend professional ethics, than save the person trashing them.
    The other issue for OP is that she doesn’t trust her gut. I second guess myself a lot too, but I save myself much grief by immediately bringing ANY concerns to my bosses’ attention. Their feedback helped me learn what is/isn’t a big deal in my new job.
    My reaction in this situation would have been: Close door in horror. Walk into my office and call my boss immediately. Follow through on my bosses’ recommendations before the close of business. If my boss for some unimaginable reason was unconcerned, I would speak to those two on my own behalf. I would be extremely uncomfortable walking out of the building without addressing that situation. The level of disrespect and unprofessionalism displayed by their behavior is atrocious.
    OP, keep reading AAM and the many great examples of how to phrase critical or awkward information on this site. And then, do it. There’s no perfect phrasing that will remove the discomfort from the situation. Sometimes you just have to open your mouth and make yourself say the words.

  64. jhhj*

    I’m really curious how the points work. Like, can you bring in a partner and have sex in the copy room and still get points? Is it all on the honour system or do you need proof? Are the points for fun, or do you win something for having the most points, or maybe pay a forfeit if you have the least? Do people have regular partners they do this with or is just everyone sleeping with everyone else?

    I know it isn’t the point of the question but I wonder so much.

    1. Me*

      All questions i would ask during my confrontation with them.
      which is probably why id be fired as well…

  65. Brett*

    This has a huge number of responses, so maybe I missed this up thread…

    I am wondering how you deal with the _locations_?!

    If my office was on that list, I would want to know and know right away. Not just because of the ick of wanting to sanitize every surface and replace my chair, but also to figure out what else they did in my office. Am I missing anything? Did they go through any confidential material? What other things did they do in here?

    But could you really let everyone one from the president of the company on down know that your subordinates may have broken into and had sex in your office? This part of the problem seems really difficult to me.

    1. RP*

      You deal with the, “my subordinates may have had sex in your office/on your desk/in your chair” part by following it up with, “and they have been terminated. We’ll be replacing/sanitizing all locations on the list ASAP and let people change locations or work remotely in the meantime. I cannot apologize enough for this happening.”

      It’s not a matter of “could you” it’s “you have to”. People have a right to know.

  66. OP/letter writer*

    Clearing something up. I didn’t say I was going to sweep this under the rug (though maybe poorly worded), but that being shy, my tendency was to want to do so, just because of how awkward the whole situation is. I wouldn’t have written into Alison and asked for help, if I didn’t believe she was going to suggest some sort of plan of action for me to follow.

    And about the lock on the door. It is very necessary as we deal with highly private/personal information and if some of that information got dispersed to the wrong place it could be bad news. As for the couch. No idea why it’s in there, unless it had been somewhere else and they had nowhere else to put it. But I’m glad to say I’ve never sat on it and don’t intend to start!

    1. Prismatic Professional*

      Oh wow! This highly confidential part makes more sense. :-) Best of luck to you!

    2. Mike C.*

      Please read my comment about safety, you have a very serious problem on your hands outside of misbehaving employees.

    3. NickelandDime*

      OP, how have they been acting since you caught them humping at work? If they had any shame they would have left and never came back!

    4. A Bug*

      If the lock needs to remain I’d probably see about installing a large window without blinds. The glass could be lightly-obscured so that fine detail is lost and confidentiality is preserved.

      I’m not normally a person to advocate an employer making changes that punish all employees for (past or anticipated) bad behavior of some employees, because I think that kind of thing usually has the opposite of the intended effect.

      This would be an exception. There’s already plenty of evidence that you’ve got lots of employees who have really, really bad judgment, and the present issue is serious enough to warrant a serious response. Some rather radical changes might be warranted until the company can be satisfied that they’re no longer necessary.

      1. Jamie*

        I don’t think it’s even an exception since a window in the door isn’t “punishing” anyone. Or at least it isn’t punishing anyone planning on keeping their pants on, so no harm done.

    5. Dang*

      Your company should look into printers that have secure print options. And then do away with that room altogether.

      Sheesh. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. What a cluster… I wont’ even say it.

          1. Jamie*

            Ong – I just laughed so loud and tried to stifle it mid way through….my boss just came in to see if I was okay.

            He just assumed I had fallen out of my chair again – kind of sad that it happens often enough to be my thing – but no way was I going to explain this.

            If we were in grade school you so would have just gotten me in trouble!

            1. Ethyl*

              Luckily I’m working from home these days so the only people I alarmed with my cackling about this were my cats :D

            2. Dang*


              It’s a day later and I still can’t stop reading the comments.

    6. GreatLakesGal*

      We deal with protected health information in my job. None of our copiers are locked. They don’t need to be.

      Our copiers are in work spaces, and the documents that are copied or faxed are under someone’s control at all times.

      That’s the kind of security that’s appropriate to sensitive information, IMHO.
      Not a ” locked” room with key access for who-knows-how-many people.

      And if copies need sorting and collating, a copier with collate and staple functions is not unheard of.

  67. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    OP missed a great chance to channel her inner Dumblydore and yell “WHAT H*LL ARE YOUDOING YOU MOTHERDUCKERS*”

    *A reference to the most infamous fanfiction of our times- My Immortal

  68. Dawn88*

    Nobody has mentioned this…Besides the obvious disrespect and stupidity of it all…
    These idiots get PAID for doing this type of stuff? The company is PAYING THEM to behave like this, on their dime? With so many truly professional and talented people out there who can’t get jobs?? Professionals who are on the verge of living in their cars, because they are over 50? These are all recent grad types? Lovely.

    I’d hire someone from a security agency to come in and do a complete investigation, period. As someone else said, change all the locks, and I’d be walking each fool to the door after they get 10 minutes to pack their desk up. Plus install cameras all over the office, which I would say is cost effective, considering the cost of wages paid for these people! It’s called “Gross misconduct.” Any state unemployment agency would agree, too.

    Someone I knew well was a successful Systems Analyst for 20 years, and back in the day, got involved with drugs…she got hooked on meth to “get her work done.” She started scoring from basement maintenance room types, unaware there were cameras everywhere. The day before Christmas one year, her boss called her in, and she quickly went in, expecting a big bonus.

    She found herself sitting in front of several bosses and an undercover DEA agent. She was told (after being there 15 years) to “pack up and get out, and we won’t press charges. The alternative is jail. Take your pick.” They showed her a short video of her buying dope in the basement. She packed up and flew out of there, to go on a downward spiral for the next 20 years….her career ruined, divorce, and you name it…until she died at 56.

    Next employee guide I write, I’ll have to include a section under “Office Rules” about “sex in the office.” Geeze! Amazing what you discover here, huh?

    1. RG*

      Hey now, let’s not act like everyone in my age group would do something like this and that we’re the first ones to have thought of having sex on company property.

    2. RG*

      Also, just because some people have poor judgment doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go Big Brother on everybody.

  69. Petronella*

    “Highly confidential”…where do you work, the CIA? I’ve worked in government offices with confidential, sensitive information about clients and child protection, in engineering firms with trade secrets and controversial projects. Others have posted about working with highly sensitive medical and legal information. And absolutely no one here has ever encountered a locked copy room. That part of your letter is just silly and honestly makes me wonder about the seriousness and professionalism of your company, overall. If your department really works all the time with such top-level, super secret special squirrel stuff, then that’s just all the more reason to fire and replace every single member of the Duck Club.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’m with you on that – I currently work in an academic establishment so lots of information floating around there.
      My previous job to this one was a semi-government place – again, lots of confidential information.

      To be honest, every workplace will have some sort of confidential info around – for example, my volunteer place has a list of phone numbers of the volunteers on the wall in the staff area and in the downstairs shop part in the till area would be forms people fill out in order to donate more (gift aid).

    2. Just Another Techie*

      And honestly, a printer that requires you to swipe a badge or key in a PIN before it prints your job is way more secure than putting a lock on the copy room door. Because what if i hit print on a document on my computer, walk to the print room to get it, and discover someone else is already in there with the door locked, sorting his super duper extra secret material? Now not only am I delayed in picking up my print job, but someone who might not have the same clearance as I do has access to my documents. Even apart from the weird and shocking sex stuff, this is bad policy.

      1. Jamie*

        ITA. The print access should be secured, not the door. For typical offices if there are only a couple of people printing confidential info (HR, etc.) desktop printers and locking private offices make sense.

        It doesn’t sound like some of the members of this staff have the judgement/maturity to be trusted with confidential info in any case – but I’m baffled by how a lock on the door and not the copier is preventing anything.

        If you’re locked in there sorting your stuff and I send my confidential print job you’re going to see it. And not just see it – be able to read it and really study it if you want as you’re in a locked room where no one can see how nosy you are. At least out in the open you’d be limited to quick glances.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Good stuff here, OP. If anyone can go get a key and get into the copier room then that means it is not very secure.
          Now the employees are using this rule to their own advantage so it is time to revise how this whole thing is being handled.

      2. Judy*

        It’s been quite a while since I worked at a place that didn’t have “private printing” available, and several places had it set up as default.

      3. AnonAnalyst*

        Right? I totally don’t get how a lock on the door keeps documents confidential. Unless that’s in addition to having to release your documents on the printer itself.

        Hell, at my current job, I sit pretty far from the printer, so it’s not uncommon for me to send something to print only to walk over there and find someone else is already printing some long report, which means I have to check back to pick up my documents, often left sitting on the printer and frequently interspersed with others’ documents, when theirs are done. I cannot grasp how locking the door would prevent this problem.

    3. Kate M*

      Right – I would say that handling that type of information would make me even more likely to clean house. You’re really trusting adults who pull these kinds of stunts to handle confidential information? Adults that obviously don’t care to use the lock for the correct purpose. Adults who are idiotic enough to leave a sheet outlining how many points they get for having sex in the office on their desk for anyone to find, and yet they are supposed to be trusted with important papers? This shows a huge level of immaturity running throughout your office, and it would make me not trust anyone involved in this with any sort of important work. OP, I know you said that you stick by the idea that your office is great, and just because people do stupid things like this doesn’t mean that they’re not good workers. But I would seriously reconsider those ideas. If your office is a place where discretion is paramount, don’t keep people on who are indiscreet, which includes “quacking.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am still confused by the locked door. Didn’t the couple violate the rules about the locked door also???
        Maybe they thought it was okay because they were trying to make copies of each other???

        1. Liza*

          I’ve been resisting adding to the enormous number of comments on this post, but I have to express my appreciation for “making copies of each other”! :-D

    4. grasshopper*

      In many cases, having visible open offices is better for confidential information. Then everyone must clean up their documents and lock them in filing cabinets when not at their desks. Having a locked room where one individual could do anything with that information is a worse scenario. If it really is super duper top secret destroy after reading information, then it should always be in the presence of two people and never left alone with one individual.

    5. BethRA*

      I have heard of dumber security measures (and, dumber work-around to legit secutiry measures). Just because it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean someone didn’t try to put it into practice.

    6. AnonForThisOne*

      I’d guess health insurance. I’ve worked for a health insurance company before and the way they kept the information locked down a locked copy room would not have been unbelievable. In fact I think we might have had one now that I think about it. Even just standing up and walking five feet away from your unlocked computer was a fireable offense.

    7. Alston*

      I worked somewhere that had one. Government department, old equipment. (I.e. Not a smart/passworded printer) you didn’t lock it for everything, just for certain projects.

    8. blackcat*

      My current academic department has a locking copy room (though with windows to the larger room/corridor) for copying exams. Students have access to the corridor attached to the copy room, and no one expects the admin to stand there while she copies 300+ copies of a 15 page long exam. So there are contexts where the locked copy room makes sense.

      1. Lol*

        We had a similar setup at OldJob, which got me cringing!. Ewwww….

        But… you have an admin that makes copies. So jealous! Imagine carrying those 300+ copies, plus all of your teaching paraphernalia, with time limits on a copier that often had the staple cartridge removed & got jammed! Or you could send it out and have pages missing, jobs missing, and staples in the wrong place. Good times.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I used to be the amin who had to stand and guard the copier while printing exams, and then deliver them to a locked file cabinet for the professor tho retrieve. The copy room just had an open doorway, and it was my job to make sure the exams were safe from students’ prying eyes.

    9. BananaPants*

      I also find it surprising that a company dealing with such confidential and sensitive material is relying on a locked copy room to supposedly protect that information. All it does is allow one person access to the copy room without risk of another person entering – a perfect scenario for someone planning on misusing that highly confidential information. That’s more of a potential security risk than employees getting print jobs mixed up.

      I have a lot of friends working for defense contractors or for the government itself, doing work requiring security clearances. Their workgroups typically have secure network printers and those printers are actually kept out in relatively open areas so that one person doesn’t have privacy to print or view documents without being noticed. Generally access to the work area itself is controlled but there really isn’t true privacy. Those folks also have specific procedures for locking up files and throwing paper away.

  70. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Okay, something has been bothering me. Once one accrues a certain number of points, can they be redeemed for prizes? Like, 10,000 points gets you a gift card to Target. Or maybe a donation to Ducks Unlimited in your honor?
    Are they like airline miles, where you’ve been fastidiously fornicating only to find out that all you get is a hat with the company logo on it?

    1. Dana*

      Or worse, it’s like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter!

      1. Pat*

        I do hope they get extra points for applying Whose Line Is It Anyway rules.

        “Okay Ryan, you’re meeting Greg for a secret liaison in the copier room, but Colin is going to be your hands.”

        Less said about the Hoedown the better…

  71. MBA*

    Oh man! So I was chatting with an old high school friend of mine the other day and he revealed to me that he had had sex at the office. Apparently it was after work but still. Needless to say I was a bit shocked so I just sort of laughed it off. I said that the people I work with would fire someone in an instant for that kind of behavior and my friend said their boss knew and was okay with it…. just wow.

    I really like my friend but their judgement is just sooo bad. This article was very timley although I don’t really want to risk hurting the friendship by sending this to my old friend.

  72. _ism_*

    Yes, please, for the good of these young employees, this needs to be brought to attention and stopped. I bet there’s language in the employee handbook that makes this stuff explicitly not OK. These employees may consider themselves lucky, but thinking this kind of office culture is OK at most offices, in their future careers, will be a real detriment to them.

  73. Courtney*

    How did the duck list ever get started? Because I can’t imagine a list getting circulated “sign up if you are interested….”.

    Seriously I’d never want to return to that workplace again. Who knows where there had been points earned? Gross to think at the place where you hold meetings there may have been points earned (trying my best to phrase it nicely).

    1. Dr J*

      “I’m sorry, there’s been a terrible mix up. I thought I was signing up for the mandatory team-building potluck, but I seem to have put my name down for the sex club. At any rate, Joffree keeps trying to follow me into the copy room. Could you take my name off the duck list, and tell Dany I’ll bring guacamole on Friday? Thanks!”

  74. Bend & Snap*

    Now I’m imagining how they’re going to fill in “reason for termination” on job applications.

    “Participated in company-wide sex ring”

    1. jhhj*

      I’m curious how you’d write it in the resumes discussed in the next question.

      – Had sex in copier room with my penis
      – Won 103 points in my company-wide sex ring with my tongue

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        – Had sex with female coworker in copier room, utilizing my penis.

        Because otherwise, I might think you’re having sex with the copier… which is still not good but ow I bet that would hurt.