update #2: my coworker responds to everything I ask him to do with profanity and “your mom” jokes

Remember the letter from the person whose coworker responded to everything she asked him to do with profanity, name-calling, flat refusals, and and “your mom” jokes? She updated earlier here, and here’s the latest.

I wish I could give you a thrilling conclusion! But here’s how the Rude Gaslighting Clerk saga has been going…(also, sorry it’s so long… I tried to minimize the wordcount and somehow wound up with MORE rather than less. Brevity is not my strong suit)

After the meeting where Clerk said my “tone” was to blame, things were… okay. We were talking to each other mostly normally and the namecalling stopped. He still made inappropriate jokes, but I didn’t respond or said “don’t joke about that/don’t say things like that” and that mostly stopped it. Just for the sake of trying, I adjusted my language and used my behavior training to see if anything would change, but it didn’t seem to help as far as his work ethic was concerned… he still complained over every little task he had to do. I stopped giving him any reports and utilized the out of state assistant who works from home (actually the woman I replaced when I was hired – she’d been here 7 years and they liked her so much they kept her on to help out all our locations as needed). She was really sweet about it and has been a big help. It doesn’t fix the records half of the department being a huge mess, but it took some aggravation off my shoulders and gave me less reason to engage with him. Boss was thrilled with my initiative – she always reminds me to utilize that assistant but I usually only ask her for help if I’m going to be out of the office. Why didn’t I do this sooner?!?!

Clerk’s behavior quickly got worse. I walked into a conference room for a meeting that was empty save for him. He said “We’re voting you off the island” as I sat down. I thought I’d missed some kind of joke before walking in so I said “what?” with a small laugh and he looked me in the eye and said “Because nobody can f**ing stand you.” He said something rude to me EVERY time I opened my mouth. He’d either repeat what I said in a mocking voice or just say something crappy about my appearance or that my interests were stupid, or… whatever. It was just everything. He started referring to me as “woman” (ie, “Be quiet, woman”). I sternly said “Don’t call me ‘woman.’ It’s degrading” which launched an extremely obnoxious back-and-forth about why I found it degrading when it’s what I am, “are you a self-hating feminist, oops, I mean feminazi” etc. One time I asked “Is there some reason you constantly feel the need to say mean things to me?” His answer was “it’s not mean if it’s true.” Boss was on lots of PTO for personal reasons around this time so I just started writing everything down, date and time stamping all of it.

After a few weeks of this nonsense I contacted HR and met with one of the reps. I figured it was time to take it a step further and my boss had been so far unhelpful (she told me “don’t take it personally… so “don’t bother, you still look like sh**” when I’m putting on make-up or “you fat f***” when I said I was looking forward to the catered staff lunch later that day are… what, professional criticisms? Hmmm). HR lady asked me if I thought Clerk having an admin mom that’s been here a long time was part of the issue. I said I wasn’t sure but I don’t think he has cause to fear for his job because of it, nobody would dare cross swords with her by firing her kid. HR’s advice was for me to be even sterner with him and say things like “Clerk, I’ve asked you to stop saying that and you aren’t listening. Do I need to get Boss involved?” etc. So I did (so I had been doing, since I wrote to you the first time!), and I got the typical “what, are you running to mommy?” or the silent treatment (god I love getting the silent treatment now). Boss kept telling me “just worry about you” when I’d bring up performance or scheduling concerns having to do with Clerk. Everybody said “just wait and see how it goes,” which they’ve been saying since before I first wrote in. I kinda just shut down. Kept my headphones on as much as I could, tried to pretend he didn’t exist. He’s full-time now, so I have no days of escape from him. There’s nowhere else for us to do our work and we can’t work from home. I’m just stuck with him. And he does just enough to keep him endeared – our company is HUGE on just filling empty spaces with whoever they can find, shuffling people around and not really hiring to patch gaps the way they should, so this is pretty typical. A warm body is a warm body.

I’m pretty fed up. I keep being told it’s my responsibility to deal with this jerk, I keep feeling like it’s my fault he’s being inappropriate (somehow I seem to be the only one who understands how consent works… yes, I consented to being treated like this and went along with it. Now I am withdrawing that consent. How is this complicated?), and most of all, I am just really sick of being verbally abused and disrespected in my workplace. I spend most of my nights and weekends shut up in my house, not talking to anyone, not going anywhere, and feeling like it’s a chore when I have to. I don’t eat, I can’t sleep, I’m honestly just Messed Up about this. Some magical how, my work hasn’t suffered, but I think my relationships with my coworkers are starting to deteriorate because I’m either totally withdrawing or kind of just… flat and unenthusiastic. I try not to be, but I can sense that I am. My roommates noticed my mood change, too. It kinda sucks.

But I’m hanging in there. I’ll be moving back home to help my mom with some stuff (and save a little money/work on paying stuff off in the meantime), getting a car, and making some big health-related changes come the 1st of the year. I’m looking for another job and hope to give my boss notice during my performance review in mid to late December. I know I’ll find a good job because I have all your help and advice at my disposal, and now lots of experience and skills to pad my resume with! So thank you (and your readers!) so much for being around and hearing me out. I don’t feel as lost and hopeless as I probably would otherwise because of it. :)

{ 660 comments… read them below }

  1. NonProfit Nancy*

    This sucks, and I totally think OP has the right idea: channel all that frustration into finding a new, better job ASAP. The best revenge is to be happy. Given that the highers ups already know I’m not optimistic this is going to improve. You might have a legitimate labor complaint here (I’m no lawyer, but it’s become pretty gendered, gender is a protected class, and HR knows but has done nothing) – but I’m not sure if that’s something you’re even interested in pursuing. I’d try to focus on how satisfying it will be to tell your company you’re quitting.

    1. Zombii*

      Yeah, I don’t understand this situation at all. Is gendered harassment not considered sexual harassment/hostile work environment because Clerk is only harassing the LW and not all the women? Wtfsrsly.

    2. SystemsLady*

      OP, I hope you make a formal complaint, – using the words “EEOC” and “sexual harassment” should do it – in your next conversation with HR.

      I’m sure you’ll feel more comfortable doing so after you have a job offer, and I replied here because I agree leaving is the right move.

      But note that it is illegal for companies to retaliate against employees making a complaint of this nature. (It doesn’t seem to me like they’d pick retaliation over either ignoring you or gaslighting, but you may have a different read on the situation)

      You are entirely in the right here and your workplace is seriously screwed up. I’ve seen contractors banned for much less (and much more subtle) harassment. Even contractors who were more like independent engineers, it isn’t just the power dynamic there.

      I think there’s an argument to be made to go to the EEOC, assuming they shrug off your complaint, but the way you describe how you’re doing, I don’t fault you if you don’t have the energy to go through with that right now. Keep in mind you do have quite a while after the last instance of the behavior to report it, talk to the lawyers downthread if you have questions (IANAL myself).

      Above all, take care of yourself, OP! I’m sad to read about how this is eating up your nights and weekends. If you can’t get a day or two off or get a call out to a friend, I hope your upcoming move will serve as a relaxing break where it normally may have been stressful!

      1. Guest*

        I can speak from experience when I say that the EEOC will take this situation very seriously. I was in a similar situation, and I was stunned at how swiftly they moved.

      2. LeRainDrop*

        I totally agree with SystemsLady. OP, I am appalled by your working conditions and your manager’s and HR’s refusal to do anything meaningful to stop this abuse. It’s preposterous that Rude Gaslighting Clerk has not yet been fired. I hope that you find a great new job soon! And if you can stomach dealing with this any longer, I agree with the suggestion to report to HR that this is “sexual harassment” and that you will file and “EEOC claim” and then file that claim. Most important though is the impact this is having on your health and your own emotional well-being — do what you need to do to protect yourself.

      3. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*


        Make a formal complaint with HR for sexual harassment/hostile work environment as listed by SystemsLady. If that doesn’t get the company to move on it then, have an attorney write a letter stating you will go to the EEOC. If that doesn’t work, file the complaint with the EEOC. You don’t need to give them all that much time in between if they take no action.

        If any of these comments are in writing (emails), print them now and store them in a safe place. Along with any emails from HR & Manager that pertain to this. Do all future complaints in writing and on company equipment but bcc your personal email so you have a copy.

        1. postemployment*

          I wouldn’t bother with the internal “formal complaint” — anyhow, I’m not sure how that would differ from the paper trail OP has already created. They’re well aware of his behavior and have been for some time, and continue to choose to do nothing about it. They had their chance.

          I say it’s straight to EEOC now.

          Don’t even warn them. Just go.

          Seconded about printing out the emails, STAT. I’d forward them to my private email address as well, just in case there’s drama and they try to stop you from carrying anything out of the building (such as the printed emails).

          1. Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys*

            I am not an attorney nor do I play one on TV so this isn’t legal advice, just a suggestion.

            The EEOC will ask if you have followed the internal complaint process within your company. It’s best to have followed the company’s procedure and show that they failed to take action. A verbal complaint may not merit that “formal notice” so it will depend on the policy. Without that good faith effort, the EEOC will send a mediation request and get you to the right to sue point, but would most likely not take the case on themselves. By proving you notified them and they failed to act, they have willful negligence to point to and a lot stronger case to prosecute. It weakens the employers affirmative defense too, if they have one. They can’t say, we have this documented process and the OP didn’t follow it.

    3. Guest*

      I went through something similar many years ago when sexual harassment wasn’t taken nearly as seriously as it is now. It was brutal, but my female boss would give me $10 and tell me to take a few hours to recover and buy myself some nice flowers to feel better. After the umpteenth incident, I went to a different executive in the company. Within a few days, I was fired.
      I went to the EEOC to file a complaint. The EEOC was amazing and resolved the situation to my satisfaction. It wasn’t a pleasant experience, by any means. But OP should consider just having a conversation with EEOC. This is ongoing harassment that the company is choosing to not handle…and to tell her not to take it personally? The company can choose to not see it as harassment or sexual harassment, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not. It also means that the company is being extremely negligent and this has been documented by them and the OP.
      I usually vote to walk away and just be glad to be away from a horrible situation. But when a company, particularly a large company who knows better, opts to be negligible *and* essentially further the egregious behavior, that’s when I say maybe it’s time to teach them a lesson they won’t forget.

      1. TootsNYC*

        If nothing else, talking to the EEOC might give the OP some tactics–and some steel–to tackle this.

    1. EA*

      I know. All I have to say is WTF.

      I would probably walk out, without a new job. I know everyone has a different financial situation, but like, this is why I have an emergency fund.

      1. EmKay*

        I like to think I wouldn’t punch him in the face before walking out, but I don’t know. This guy is just so rage-inducing.

        1. EA*

          Also- The fact that his mom works there is a new detail? Like in what universe are admins (or anyone for that matter) so valued that people would be afraid of firing their kid? I say this AS AN ADMIN.

          1. AshK434*

            That stuck out for me as well so I thought maybe Admin was an abbreviation for Administrator perhaps?

          2. Kriss*

            no, that’s not a new detail. that was in the original letter but I admit to wondering what type of admin the mother is because I was of the same opinion as EA–what type of admin has so much power that HR is afraid of crossing her?

            1. Addison*

              OP here- She’s a case manager (medical field), so not, like, involved in the running of the company or anything, but she’s also worked here well over 10 years. People with seniority like that are pretty venerated here. It’s the type of workplace where I don’t really think you get much respect until like 5 years in. I’m at almost 4… so close!! (Ugh)

              1. Tobias Funke*

                Oh my god. Please tell me he never has any contact with any clients.

                I am irate on your behalf. This is absolutely gross. I wish you all the good job dust in the world.

                1. Zombii*

                  Nooo, reverse strategy: he should be working with clients ALL THE TIME. If the company won’t listen to their own employees, maybe there’s the slimmest possible chance that they would listen to their clients.

              2. Lily in NYC*

                Does she have any clue how he treats you? I think you should just start recording him (audio only) on your cell phone and then play it for your boss, your boss’ boss (and I’m tempted to add his mom to the list). This has gone on for long enough and this jerkwad is harassing you. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with your boss and HR? I would start fighting this hard core at this point.

                1. AMG*

                  There is no age that my son would be too old to spank if I found out that he treated ANYONE like this. I hope she finds out. I would not blame you for telling her.

                2. iseeshiny*

                  Okay, it’s funny that spanking has come up because I just watched the episode of the Office where Michael hires his nephew on as the assistant. That was some A+ television right there.

                3. SadieMae*

                  I love this idea, but be careful – in some states it’s illegal to film/tape someone without their consent/knowledge, and I wouldn’t put it past this guy to sue you.

                  Plus which, tempting as it might be to get back at him…someone who would continually talk to a co-worker like this isn’t just a jerk, he’s probably psychologically unbalanced, and maybe even dangerous. For your own safety, especially since the company obviously isn’t willing to deal with the problem (and it’s THEIR problem to deal with!), I would just find another job and leave quietly – other than calmly reiterating in your exit interview what a toxic environment his actions and their inaction created for you.

                  Be comforted in the knowledge that the company is suffering for their cowardice by keeping this guy on – they’re losing good employees, obviously! – and that life is not going to treat this fellow kindly in the long run unless he make some serious changes.

                4. Dynamic Beige*

                  I know that technically speaking, recording people without their knowledge or consent can be against the law depending on your jurisdiction. But, I wouldn’t care because if repeatedly telling higher ups at this org that there is someone who is sexist, misogynist and generally a whiny little child who is making your job intolerable — and they don’t do anything — they need to *hear* this for themselves. Clerk is obviously really good at behaving when other people are around who could threaten his employment/have word get back to his mother.

                  Record some of it. If they schedule an exit interview for you and ask you why you’re leaving, play it for them. Then let them know that that is just one week’s worth (or whatever) and offer to give them a copy.

                5. Zombii*

                  @SadieMae There is a huge difference between “illegal” and “not admissible in court.” In most states, wiretapping is the latter. And if he wanted to sue, he’d have to show damages.

                6. Girasol*

                  I know you can’t secretly record people, but couldn’t hold up your phone and record yourself saying, “would you please repeat that for a recording” to see what he says? Either he would provide evidence or clam up, and possibly stay clammed up every time he sees your hand on the phone.

                7. KarenD*

                  On the recording issue, SadieMae is correct .

                  This link has a rundown on recording laws by state: https://www.rcfp.org/reporters-recording-guide/tape-recording-laws-glance Please note the column “are there criminal penalties?” Every box except Vermont is checked. Given that, only 12 states are identified as “all party consent” states – but in each of those states, there can be criminal penalties attached to taping someone without their knowledge.

                  Ironically, in my (all-party-consent) state, clandestine recordings CAN be admissible, under certain circumstances – usually, if a lawyer can find a way to wriggle around the hearsay rule. I’ve seen illegally obtained recordings admitted into evidence in family court and criminal cases.

                8. Clea*

                  @SadieMae I honestly don’t think he has a mental illness. I’m bipolar, and if I was that out of control I (or whatever friends I had left) would be insisting on medication adjustments and additional therapy. Most of the people I know with serious mental illness are the same way, or are on disability because they cannot work due to their instability. The last time I was that emotionally off, it lasted about two weeks before my best friend confronted me about taking my meds (I had gone off them).

                  I’m not saying it’s impossible, of course. I’m sure there are people who use mental illness as an excuse to be complete scum, and he could be one of them. I’m a patient, not a psychologist. But I would hope that people who cared about him would notice if he was behaving out of the ordinary or erratically.

                  In this case, I think maybe he was just spoiled rotten as a child. He sounds like an entitled alt-right asshole who’s never faced a consequence in his life, not mentally unstable.

                9. Lynxa*

                  Karen D’s (I can’t respond directly to you) – criminal penalties are if there isn’t sufficient consent and the recordings are used for a nefarious purpose, not just for recording someone. The states that have one-person consent means the consent of the recorder would be enough to bar penalties.

                  Generally there is no expectation of privacy at work (particularly if it’s public) unless it’s the sort of work that has a privilege attached (Lawyer, Doctor) or has a written privacy policy.

              3. Artemesia*

                This behavior is so horrific that I can’t fathom why your boss hasn’t fired him. Horrific. I understand not wanting to mess with a slacker but these comments are each a firing offense. If you decide to quit or that you could stand the heat, I’d be inclined to schedule coffee with his mother and lay out these comments and ask her what she thinks you should do to manage this? This is the nuclear option but no one in your line of command or HR is behaving professionally here and I am not sure you have much to lose. I’d probably be taking i all the way up the chain of command as far as it would go. With a list of dates and the types of comments and the fact that you can’t get anyone to back you up. What could be worse than what you have now?

                I do hope you can get another job; this place is horrific.

                1. Koko*

                  Ugh I am so, so upset on OP’s behalf. In most cases I think taking legal action would just be a time and money suck, and it’s not like you would still want to work someplace that you sued…but Jesus Christmas, what this woman has had to endure is so over the top horrible that her company deserves to go bankrupt for sheltering her abuser. They need to be punished and it infuriates me that they won’t be.

                2. Misc*

                  Ehhhh. We’re assuming his mother can actually do anything or wants to risk him being out of work and on her couch. If he’s this disrespectful to women, it’s entirely possible that spills over onto his mother so non-work consequences won’t matter.

                  Within work, she may not be able to do anything except walk around going ‘oh dear if only someone would fire my son’. And even if she said that, it sounds like HR would just go ‘well, yes, but she’d still MIND if we fired him’.

                3. Misc*

                  Basically this assumption that she’s *responsible* for him at work gets my hackles up. He’s responsible for him, followed by his boss, followed by HR.

              4. Kriss*

                I just cringe every time I read more details. There is no excuse for you to put up with this BS & your employer has fallen down on the job here. You’re doing the smart thing to get out of there as quickly as you can.

                Just know that should you choose to force the issue you probably have a good case for sexual harassment/ hostile work environment but you need to take care of you & you need to do what is best for you right now.

                Good Luck & I know everyone here would love to hear a further update when you can.

        2. Posting Under Another Name*

          I don’t know about punching him. But caltrops are your friends, as is knowing where the cameras are in the parking garage.

        3. Mephyle*

          The incorrect part of me wants to suggest directing the taunts he fired at you to the HR-“you’re taking it too personally”-lady. If she’s offended to be told that no one can f*ing stand her, tell her she’s taking it too personally, and her tone is to blame.

          Seriously, though, are the people you’ve reported it to, the ones who are minimizing it and blaming you, aware of the exact wording of what he said?

    2. Tequila Mockingbird*

      I am stunned that HR is hands-off about this, particularly since Clerk’s behavior is documented and has been going on FOREVER, and he’s been warned, what, a half a dozen times?

      This is a prime case of hostile work environment. WOW.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        She said she went to an HR rep, I’m wondering if she needs to go to the top HR person? Maybe the rep is I experienced or told to start with the lame advice she gave and wait to see if employee (Op) escalates it?

        1. Van Wilder*

          Yeah I might think of the get-a-lawyer-to-write-a-letter route because some of his comments are gendered and it sounds like they’re frequent enough to rise to the level of hostile work environment. Maybe that would spur HR to action. I just hate that she has to be the one to find another job just because everyone else sucks at theirs.

      2. Oranges*

        It actually IS I think? She’s being discriminated based upon her sex it reads like. So yes. Also LW, you are showing signs of depression. GET. HELP. NOW! Not in 2 weeks. NOW. PLEASE!!!!

  2. NW Mossy*

    Oh, OP, that stinks. And so does your boss. And HR.

    This whole “Oh, he’s so-and-so’s kid, we can’t fire him” thing is a tremendous cop-out. I’d love to see her make the case for why he should continue to have a job based on his incessantly unprofessional behavior. And HR’s reaction is “oh, no pervasive and severe gender-based harassment here! La la la la!” I’m disgusted by this whole thing, and wish you well in a speedily successful job search.

    1. Christine*

      Would this be considered a “hostile environment? She’s being treated this way because she’s a woman.

      “OP — you can always keep a copy of your log at home. (take original home) You can document what takes place, said, e-mail it to your personal e-mail address. You’ll have a date & time stamp. Be sure to document what is said by your manager & HR, etc. Than when you submit your resignation turn around and file suit, etc. against the employer. You want to do that after you leave, you do not want the fact that you have filed a lawsuit against your current employer made public before job searching.

      When you say people are afraid to get rid of him because of the admin, are you referring to an admin assistant? If I had a child hired by my employer acting like that, I would be horrified.

      1. Red*

        Yeah, how is this not sex-based harassment? Permitting this behavior after being informed of it just makes the employer complicit…

        1. Christine*

          I’m so angry for the OP. OP — has all of this been verbal conversations with your supervisor, HR, etc.? You need some type of written documentation that you have discussed this with them. I assume that you have some e-mails about the situation. Have copies outside the office. File the formal grievance if the procedure is available to you. Contact the home office if one is available. They may not know how bad one of the local offices is behaving and would be horrified about the liability your subordinate & bosses have opened the door to. Than go to the EEOC. I pulled up something on my state’s EEOC website. “A charge must be filed with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation, in order to protect the charging party’s rights.”

          1. Meg*

            The EEOC statement is correct. That doesn’t mean that you can’t include stuff that happened more than 180 days ago if there is a pattern of ongoing harassment, you can reach back further than 180 days as long as the most recent moment of harassment happened within 180 days.

              1. Jessie*

                What kind of grievance, Christine? Because an employer can’t undo a statute of limitations or EEOC administrative procedures. I mean, I am sure they would love for people to think they have less time to act on actual legal issues…. but they can’t.

              2. JeanLouiseFinch*

                I believe that creating a hostile work environment is viewed as one discriminatory act for statute of limitation periods, and the statute starts to run at the commission of the last act or at the point the claimant is harmed, whichever is later. I am not certain of this though. Also, there are usually state employment statutes that might assist, which don’t always track the Federal laws.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              The look-back period is actually longer if it’s a hostile work environment claim (300 days: https://www.eeoc.gov/employees/timeliness.cfm). That said, it makes sense to try to file an administrative complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of him doing/saying something insane, which shouldn’t be too hard since he seems to do this on a daily basis.

              OP, you’re officially in a place where your work environment could be considered a hostile work environment, especially because you have gone up the chain. If you can, please document your meetings with HR and try to continue escalating your complaints as high as you can go. No one should have to work in conditions like this, and no boss with any shred of integrity would let this continue to happen.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  It’s all right—I know you were only trying to help, Marisol. It’s just that I can get in trouble for giving actual legal advice online :)

                2. Marisol*

                  Princess Consuela, if you want to clarify your intentions with respect to what you’ve said earlier, fine, that’s understandable. In an attempt to be gracious, I let your “correction” go.

                  Now there’s three posts about my word choice, and I’m feeling patronized. Perhaps you can put yourself in my shoes and see how that would be a little grating.

                  I’m not an attorney; I have no ethical obligation to use the term “legal advice” in any specific sense; and I’m certainly not responsible for upholding someone else’s ethic. In the common-sense, dictionary definition of the words “advice” and “legal,” you are indeed giving legal advice. If you think that poses an ethical quandary, then you might want to refrain from posting such information. But that has no bearing on how I choose to express myself. I have not erred, and I don’t need a lesson. Please don’t nitpick my words, insult my intelligence, or assume that I am in any way responsible for what you choose to write on a blog.

                  I have enjoyed reading posts from both you and Engineer girl in the past and hope we can have a cordial relationship in the future, but I do feel moved to address the way the two of your are engaging with me right now. It doesn’t feel appropriate.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Whoa, wait, no, I read that as Princess Consuela Banana Hammock being gracious and just explaining why it had been an issue (a lot of people don’t realize that lawyers aren’t allowed to give out actual legal advice in context like this one). It can be important for lawyers to be very clear about that, for their own protection.

                  I did not read it as nitpicking or insulting your intelligence. I think you have read this in a very different way than it was intended. I also don’t want to discourage lawyers from sharing their insights here.

                  I’ll ask that we leave this here.

  3. Zoe*

    This is heartbreaking, OP. You’re being actively bullied at work and none of your management is standing up for you. I don’t know how your state laws work but can you record some of this stuff on your phone? If HR isn’t helpful, maybe a recording of him acting like this would help? Or, get an employment lawyer. I don’t know about the laws in your state but this qualifies as bullying and is absolutely emotional and verbal assault.

    1. Alton*

      Honestly, it sounds like the bullying might be veering into sexual harassment at this point if he’s calling attention to her gender in ways that she’s stated she finds uncomfortable, is making comments about her appearance, etc. It wouldn’t hurt to consult a lawyer, and maybe if there is a case, maybe HR would take it more seriously if this is framed as discrimination.

      Though, at this point, the OP is probably best off getting out regardless. I have to question the leadership when someone is allowed to get away with stuff like this.

      1. designbot*

        Agreed, and I would drop a mention of that on HR, since it’s something they’re more obligated to pay attention to than general poor treatment.

        1. OhNo*

          I wonder if going back to HR with the harrassment/bullying/hostile workplace language would help? It seems like they’re just treating this like a personality conflict, when it has clearly risen far beyond that into abusive territory.

          OP, I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

            1. Addison*

              I got pretty close to it at one point. My boss was following up on how things were going, the conversation was not really going well (“so it sounds like everything’s fine!” “well, nothing has happened in a few days, but.. you know, not Fine”), and I mentioned how baffling it was to me that the folks responsible for stopping this stuff kept saying how it was my fault for joking too much with him and now couldn’t possibly get serious with him all of a sudden. It went kind of like…

              Me: I mean, it sort of is like saying I had too many drinks, led him on, and now I can’t say no.
              Boss: …So you’re equating this to crying rape?
              Me: I’m not CRYING anything; I’m being harassed, and it WILL stop.
              Boss: …ok :\

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Say it to HR though. Seriously. Email HR, put “official complaint of sexual harassment” in the subject line, and include details. HR is supposed to be trained to deal with this, and you may just need to spell out for them that you do indeed consider it harassment.

                1. EddieSherbert*

                  Yes! Ohmygosh, , please please file an official report with HR.

                  I’m so sorry, OP. I hope you get out of there ASAP.

                2. Turtle Candle*

                  Yes. yes yes yes. Don’t hint around. Don’t just say “this is harassment” to your boss. Officially inform HR that you are being sexually harassed.

                  There are a lot of times when people ask AAM “is this legal?” and the answer is “yes it’s legal but it sucks.” This time, though? It’s quite likely that it actually is illegal, and actionable. It’s gendered, it’s sexualized, it’s persistent, and management knows about it and has chosen to do nothing.

                  Don’t hint. Say something. Even if you leave tomorrow, having said something may make the next poor woman who has to work with this asshole have an easier time getting traction on a harassment complaint in the future.

                3. MC*

                  Yes – as noted elsewhere: Talk to your lawyer friend. Get the specific language that you need to use to put everyone on high alert. Make sure they know that you are also facing retaliation as well now. Your boss is not making this better, she is adding fuel to the fire. She needs to be put on notice that she is now in the legal cross hairs.

                4. BRR*

                  Do this. And when sending it, error on the side of sending it to more rather than less. What I mean is if you have a HR manager that you usually deal with and an HR director who you don’t, send it to both. Send it to your boss and your boss’ boss. Make sure that enough people know that one or two bad employees can’t just ignore or dismiss this.

                5. One of the Sarahs*

                  It can be really, really hard to name this kind of thing so explicitly, but OP, it is NOT your fault, you are not responsible for this. It’s difficult, but you need to do it. You have so much support from the readers here, and I really, really hope they listen this time.

                6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Absolutely agreed. Please submit this information to HR with the guidance Alison has provided. As folks know, OP, I am really wary of encouraging folks to take legal action, so please consider it an indicator of how egregious your coworker/supervisors/HR are behaving when I tell you—file a complaint, and keep track of time so you can file an EEOC complaint.

                7. Grey*

                  Yes, and gather as much documentation while you still can. You don’t want to give them a chance to “shred the evidence”.

              2. Jessica*

                Just as an outside observer, there are many ways for your boss to interpret that conversation, so I don’t think it has the same level of impact as saying “my co-worker is harassing me because I am a woman.” I see how you were trying to draw an analogy with rape/consent issues, but an analogy is not the same as a direct statement.

                1. designbot*

                  yeah my interpretation of that was just, they made a poor choice of analogy and you called them out on it.

              3. Zombii*

                Jesus Batshit Christ. The fact that your boss verbally interprets wanting to say no after having too many drinks as “crying rape” tells me exactly everything about why this constant, pervasive harassment was allowed to continue at your employer.

                This is a Company Of Bees—and also the bees are on fire. Get out as soon as you can. Get help. This place will have screwed you up in so many ways you won’t even see for years. I am so sorry.

                1. Fortitude Jones*

                  All of this. The boss is just as big a problem as the douchebag coworker.

                  Addison, these people suck – all of them. They have no redeeming qualities. Sue them on your way out the door, seriously.

            2. Engineer Girl*

              And if you have a legal department cc them in the email and note that you’ve already gone to HR about it.

            3. HR Jeanne*

              Yes, this. You are being harassed because you are a woman, and that is a protected class. Please use the sentence above to your clearly lame HR person, and if that doesn’t work go to their boss. This is more than appalling, and I can’t believe an HR professional did not take steps to stop this. If I heard even one of the lines that this man has said to you I would be working on his termination paperwork. This HR person and lame manager are putting the company at risk by not dealing with this.

    2. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

      I’d be tempted to record it on my phone and put it on YouTube, with his name and the company’s attached, as my parting shot as I left. But I’d be afraid of retaliation from the woman-hating troll legion.

      I am so f-ing done with people like this. They deserve no mercy. They deserve to have their lives ruined.

      1. Liz*

        Actually, recording it and playing it back to HR and Boss might do the trick. They probably don’t realize how it really sounds to OP.

        1. NW Mossy*

          I was listening to a management podcast recently where one of the hosts used this technique to get through to a sales employee who had an history of being abusive to internal staff. The host told his direct, “I’m going to play one of the voicemails you left for the service team to the general manager. And I get to pick which one.” Forcing someone to stand behind their words can be a nuke-level tool, but this situation is certainly serious enough to warrant it.

          1. Christine*

            Oh, I like that one. I have seen employers have some doing “bad” things, that would turn around ask the employee what they would do in this situation if they were the supervisor. Not letting on that they were referring to their behavior. Sometimes people are oblivious about how the come across. .. you know someone that does things with their face when speaking in front of class, than sees a video of themselves, than they realize it type of thing.

            I recall something in my past where a supervisor asked someone what they would do in this situation, etc. (either in my retail or bartending days) The employee said I would fire them, they got fired.

      2. Chomps*

        She would need to double check her state’s laws about recordings though, just to make sure she’s not doing something illegal. I’m not clear on what these laws are, but I know they can vary by state and may not always support the person rcording in secret. (Unless he’s stupid enough to say this stuff even though he knows she’s recording)

        1. ZuKeeper*

          She definitely needs to look in to the laws, but many states only require one party consent, so you can record someone without their consent or knowledge (but do check to see if you live in one of the 11 states that require consent of all parties).

        2. Randy K*

          As others have said the laws are varied about recording and consent. I live in a state that is a “Two Party Consent” state, which I found out while discussing with my family law attorney when I wanted to record her. My attorney told me it was a felony in my state and therefore a BAD IDEA, so I would STRONGLY recommend OP speak to an attorney before recording without consent.

          I’m not sure how much it will help in OPs situation, but what my attorney said to do is to not speak in person any more than necessary (not helpful in this case) and to not answer the phone when called and let my ex leave a voice mail, which means she is consenting to be recorded (maybe this is helpful?).

          1. Randy K*

            To clarify my second sentence, I was looking to record my ex for evidence, not my Attorney, in case that wasn’t clear. ;)

    3. Boop*

      Some states have anti-bullying at work laws, you might want to check if yours is one. Otherwise, all I can say is GET OUT. Any workplace that allows that kind of behavior, no matter the offender’s parentage, is deeply messed up. I think I might punch someone who spoke to me like that; I know I’ve hit my brother for less!

    4. Carpe Librarium*

      Regarding taking a recording of one of your conversations: if you think you might do this OP, please check your local laws.
      There are different requirements for legally recording a conversation in different states and countries; some require consent of all recorded parties.
      You REALLY don’t want to mess that up.

  4. Banana Sandwich*

    Congrats to OP for not totally losing it on this jerk!!! Wow! I would have been gone and possible in jail if I had to deal with him, good grief!!

    1. Christine*

      My passive aggressive behavior would be out full force. The last day there … because I would be job searching like crazy I would be so tempted to super glue all the drawers to his desk closed …. I would record (if legal) all of his comments to you, than send them via to his mother from a temporary e-mail address, etc. Especially if it can done in such a way that it sounds like he’s talking to women like that in general. If it doesn’t show who in particular he’s speaking to. I would have tons of fantasies going on about what to do.

      Fake mouse poop in his desk drawers, etc. Record the way he talks and send it to your president and/or CEO.

      Is there a corporate office that is located elsewhere? You could go that route when out the door. I would be afraid of retaliation if you did this while still employed (do not do if you plan to file a lawsuit), it would serve to give them the heads up of the situation. I would have all ready blown up and screamed at him, be calling in sick all the time, etc.

      1. LawBee*

        Yeah, that would be REALLY satisfying, but also cement her as the crazy bitch in his office who finally quit. :/

          1. Christine*

            Lawbee , you are so correct. I wouldn’t do anything, but, boy I would fantasize about it. I hate confrontations, but boy I do believe that I would have been in his face after he got on my final nerve a few times. I wonder if his father treats his mother that way? I would be, “you kiss your mother with that mouth,” or girlfriend, etc. I would be asking him what he would say if someone talked to his mother like that he does me . OP — I give you kudos for not blowing up at him, or slapping his face.

            I think off of us are angry for you.

  5. AMD*

    This is sad, weird, and crazy, and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. Your boss is terrible, your HR is terrible, and your job shouldn’t mess up the rest of your life. I would definitely invest some time in finding some coping skills for letting it go when you’re not there, but this is a clearly abusive situation and escape is the best option, and I hope you find a better situation soon!!!

    1. Jess1216*

      I was coming here to say the same thing about the coping skills. I had a different situation but same feeling when I got home, etc. and after it was all over, it made me really really angry that I let that job take *me* away from myself. Please find a way to help yourself separate your awful work situation from your “real life” and who you really are. Clerk shouldn’t get to take that away, too – you deserve so much more than that.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The boss and HR are as bad as the guy, but for different reasons. They prove that you can be horrible at your job and never cuss, raise your voice or even get angry. While a lot of people are expressing disgust with the coworker, I am just as disgusted with the management in this place. They don’t deserve a good worker like you, OP. I really mean that.

      FWIW, if I knew the name of this place, I would do everything I could to avoid it and encourage my friends to avoid it.

  6. LQ*

    I really wish you the best in finding something new and better quickly. This is horrible horrible. Very sorry you have to deal with this.

  7. Murphy*

    This guy is absolutely THE WORST and I don’t understand how he still has a job. OP, once again, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, and I’m especially sorry that you’re not getting the support that you need and deserve from others around you.

  8. PK*

    This reeks so much of obvious sexism, it just floors me that nobody in management or HR is standing up and saying emphatically that it needs to stop. Good luck on your job hunt!

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      I’m SO glad the OP is looking for a new job.

      OP, know that this is not normal, you are 100% correct, you aren’t doing anything wrong, and none of this is your fault. I know you know all that, but sometimes it’s helpful to have an outsider validate your opinion on those kinds of things. Best of luck on getting the hell out of there.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yes, especially when both the manager and HR have written it off as a personal disagreement and basically told her just to ignore him. When everyone around you is suggesting that YOU are the one at fault (or at least that the situation you are describing isn’t that serious) it’s easy to second guess yourself and wonder if what’s going on is actually normal.

        OP, add me to the “WTF” chorus about your workplace. I hope you are able to find a new job (and normal workplace) soon!

  9. Justme*

    So, how is this not sexual harassment and therefore illegal? My inkling is that it is and your employer could be in HUGE trouble for ignoring it and asking you to do the same.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree. It comes down to whether the OP wants to pursue that route or not though.

      Also, if the OP’s company has a process laid out for reporting harassment (probably involving HR), she’d need to follow that first (Having a clear complaint process that the employee didn’t follow is a legitimate defense to EEOC complaints.)

      1. Student*

        She should contact an employment lawyer anyway – that does not force her to file a suit, but she could learn about her options.

        1. Serafina*

          Exactly this. Document the incidents and efforts made to address it with HR and Boss, and research local employment lawyers and/or the local/state bar association to see if any do free consultations or a consultation for a small fee. Lawyers are good for more than just suing people – they can let you know what your options are and what’s feasible.

          1. JKP*

            My BF is a lawyer and some advice he gives clients if they don’t have $ is to make use of several different lawyer’s free consultations and build on the advice of the previous one with the next one.

            1. Temperance*

              As a lawyer, I think that is terrible advice. The reason that attorneys offer free consultations is because they want your business.

            2. Emmie*

              As a lawyer, please don’t do that. There are two issues:
              1. You are really getting a hodge-podge of advice from people who may have an incomplete set of facts. If you are really in need of legal advice, there may be free clinics or sources for support through local law schools or public service agencies.
              2. Be respectful of lawyer’s time. They are giving this time for a free consultation in hopes of determining whether there is a case, and to solicit business. If you have no intention of hiring a lawyer, do not advice shop. There’s also a concern that ongoing contacts with the same lawyer could create an attorney-client relationship in some circumstances, which has its own ramifications for the attorney.

            3. Triangle Pose*

              This is terrible advice. Don’t do this. Talk to several lawyers to get a sense of each approach and the legal options you have, “OP cannot build on the advice of the previous one” and put together a hodge podge claim this way.

            4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Let me join the lawyer chorus of saying that this is a very bad idea (although I don’t mean to denigrate your suggestion JKP—I realize this is your bf’s advice, not yours). Not because of the impact on the lawyer, but because it is difficult to “build upon” advice from multiple lawyers, particularly because you have no idea which of them are good/bad (even good firms have bad lawyers, although most plaintiff-side attorneys at this level will likely be small firms and solos). But a consultation should be free, and as others have noted, most plaintiff-side employment lawyers work on contingency, anyway, and should not be asking you to provide payment up front (even if you ultimately decide not to sue) in order for you to learn about your options.

          2. Bibliovore*

            I had a situation on the job that was so outrageous, so bizarre that at first, I just couldn’t believe it. I kept describing the crazy situation I was having with this direct report and the absolutely absurd as well as lying about unimportant and important things. Document. Document. Document.
            Date. Time. Where. What was said.
            My office, 9:00 am.
            Why wasn’t the TPS report emailed on Thursday afternoon to me?
            She said, you said I didn’t have to do that report anymore.
            I noted that was incorrect.
            She insisted that I had told her this.
            I noted the email requesting this report by this date.
            I said please send me the report by 4:00 today.

            Then I wrote this all down and emailed it to me.

            I would do this with clerk.
            I walked into the conference room.
            He said.
            I said.

            I would also right in front of him take notes-
            Repeat what he said.
            “Am I correct that you just stated that I was a fat bitch?”
            Thank you.
            If there are other witnesses, write down their names.
            Send to HR, cc boss.

        2. Dulcinea*

          Often these types of cases can be taken in contingency, ie, the lawyer only gets paid if you win ( either by taking a percentage of the money you win or by getting the other side to pay their fees). I urge OP to look into it.

      2. Allie*

        So these kinds of cases are often tough to pursue, even in blatant cases. Often a letter from a lawyer will do the trick, but this workplace sounds so dysfunctional that I am not sure it would work here.

            1. fposte*

              If her workplace has one, sure. Governmentally, those are more for safety violations; your federal recourse is the EEOC, as discussed elsewhere in this post.

            2. Jessie*

              There isn’t any kind of general or generic whistleblower hotline.

              She can simply formally complain to the HR head that she is experiencing sexual harassment and a hostile work environment and ask them to investigate.

      3. caryatis*

        I would be contacting HR EVERY time this happens. Dealing with this stuff is part of HR’s job, and if OP has to hear it, they should to. Might help get the severity of the problem to sink in.

        …Sorry, OP.

        1. Ted Mosby*

          agree agree agree. They’ve made their own freaking job a pain in your @$$. push it back to them. this is just so messed up.

        2. Just a Thought*

          Agreed. I’m glad you are trying to get out, but until then, make this everyone else’s problem too. Good for you for documenting everything; I hope you’ve kept that up. I’d still threaten to sue them even if you have a new job. This certainly sounds like sexual harassment to me.

          For what it is worth, I worked with a verbally abusive boss for 5 – yes FIVE – years. But none of the harassment was about anything to do with a protected class so I was SOL. I complained to her boss many times and finally had enough and quit. But it is amazing how much you can get used to. When I started my new job, I think it took me a year to not expect to get yelled at anytime my boss asked to talk to me…Hang in there!

          1. FormerLibrarian*

            That sounds like one of my previous positions. After the supervisor (not my boss, but someone who supervised shifts) backed me into a corner, hissed at me, and wouldn’t let me leave (if there had been witnesses I would have called the cops, but she was an expert at gaslighting) I went to HR. They had me come in the next morning and talk to a VP who was very concerned until he realized my harassment complaint wasn’t sexual, and it immediately became Not His or HR’s Problem.

            I found out later that this … person … would choose a staff member to harass until they quit or got a transfer, and then she’d move onto the next one. After over 2 decades, I still occasionally fantasize about not saving her from being hit by a bus. Between her and the other not-really-my-boss, but sadly my supervisor, the one who also backed me into a corner, wouldn’t let me leave, and screamed at me for several minutes (the entire building could hear her), I still have some problems with expecting bosses to only talk to me when it’s negative.

            1. Candi*

              Businesses and their employees are still subject to the laws of the land in which they dwell.

              This is: Very Much a state-by-state thing and: I read it about ten years ago, so the laws may have changed. (And you’re probably outside the statute of limitations.) Lawyers correct me.

              Besides both their behavior definitely being threatening: Check state law on kidnapping and false imprisonment.

              The book about true crimes I was reading so long ago claimed that in one state (I don’t remember which one), it was considered kidnapping to hold someone against their will in a room for more than fifteen minutes. (Sadly, it didn’t explain the reasoning.) Another said that in some states (again, don’t remember), preventing someone from leaving when you do not have legal authority is false imprisonment.

              Sometimes things have to be clearly -and factually- laid out, and the optic issues blatantly stated, to remove the scales from the eyes.

        3. designbot*

          agreed. When you save it up and say in a general way “he’s been doing this again” it’s easy to lump it together and not realize the frequency of the really severe incidents. If they had to hear about it every time they would quickly feel overwhelmed.

        1. Addison*

          OP here- Sorta. In the handbook I believe it just says to report issues to HR, your supervisor, or the director, that you’re entitled to document issues (it doesn’t mention recording though), and that you can’t be retaliated against. I think there might be a form you can fill out too but I haven’t dug that far yet.

          1. Ms. Anne Thrope*

            Start digging! This is insane.

            Srsly, this is All the Wrong and you need to hit them w/ the EEOC once you get out of there, so make sure you’ve followed all the procedures first.

          2. Adonday Veeah*

            Start digging for that for NOW. And “you can’t be retaliated against” means that idiot you work with can’t retaliate against you as well, so if/when he does, you have an even stronger case.

          3. MC*

            That also means your boss needs to act like a professional. Which she is not. Because she is a bad boss and a bad person.

            1. Christine*

              As long as there is no document trail, they can ignore the issue. A formal grievance will force their hand.

              1. Anna*

                MC’s point is, though, that a decent human, much less a decent boss, would have put a stop to this the first time it came up. Boss is ignoring it, which is the definition of being bad.

          4. Trillian*

            Dig that form out and get it in. You have your exit plan, good, and if you document it, it may help the next woman this jerk harasses. And it will be a nice little time-bomb waiting to be discovered by the senior person who is savvy about sexual harassment and who will go WTF.

          5. Nea*

            It’s time to start digging like an overcaffeinated Jack Russell Terrier after rabbits. And start making sure that the entire chain of people you just listed gets the entire documentation set that you created – updated daily if necessary.

          6. HYDR*

            Does he reply to any written correspondence with these awful phrases/digs? If he doesn’t, I would start emailing him (not baiting him by any means), just so you could have some written comments as well as his verbal comments documented.

            I’m so sorry, this really sucks.

      4. Meg*

        Yep, time to talk to a lawyer, and if possibly, file a complaint with the EEOC. You can’t sue without first pursuing with the EEOC.

  10. Barney Barnaby*

    If your company has an ombudsman, place a call to him or her. This is not how normal workplaces operate. That you are sort-of supervising him does not change things; you lack the ability to discipline him, put him on a PIP, or any of the normal supervisory things that could be done to reign in this behaviour. At this point, someone who is not you is responsible for it.

  11. Allie*

    Wow, OP. I agree you should get as far as possible from this horrible toxic workplace. This is just so very very bad and their taking no action on your harassment is implicit consent to it. Ifor you weren’t getting out, I would say it might be lawyer time, given that this guy’s harassment is pretty gender oriented. This is just horrifying and both your harasser and those allowing the harassment are nasty people.

  12. ket*

    You are in a verbally abusive relationship with this coworker. Your company is beyond useless, and suffering from extraordinary lack of management. In your next job, be gentle with yourself as you recover from this daily abuse and learn what it’s like to be in a more normal environment. I am so angry for you — and I wish you amazing luck in finding something else SOON!

    1. Elizabeth*

      This is 100% abuse. It’s disgusting and shameful that the company is looking the other way. I’m glad you’re able to get out soon, OP.

  13. Snorlax*

    My word, I can’t believe he hasn’t been fired. I hope you find a new job soon since management clearly isn’t going to address his issues.

  14. Kristine*

    My heart hurts for you, OP. Nobody should have to face that kind of harassment EVER, but especially not in the workplace and they shouldn’t be shunned or shut out for reporting it. The company is letting you suffer because they’re too lazy (scared? apathetic?) to fire this guy and you deserve better. All of my fingers and toes are crossed for you to find a better job ASAP.

    I’d also love to see you slap down a big harassment lawsuit when you leave. Because your company is enabling his behavior and he thinks he’s in the right, and I’d love to see justice served to both the wrongdoer and the bystanders.

  15. Student*

    Contact an employment lawyer.

    Seriously consider just quitting, if you think you have enough saved up to tide you through a job search or could get some assistance from family members for a bit. Very seriously, this situation is extremely bad for you – he is escalating, and he knows you can’t do anything now, so it’s going to get even worse. Get out before he starts getting violent.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      Yes, exactly. He knows now that nothing will be done. Get out as soon as you can, and consider contacting an employment lawyer just to hear your options. Don’t feel pressured to do anything with the information if you aren’t up for it, but just knowing your options sometimes gives a person strength to get through a bad situation.

    2. Night Cheese*

      This. Watching his behavior escalate is the part that really makes me scared for you, OP. I feel like your company is serving you up on a silver platter for him by brushing this all off and just kind of mumbling “sticks and stones” every time you try to report him and it makes me so angry for you.

      A friend of mine had a coworker who harassed her a lot like this and didn’t have any reason for why he was treating her that way other than just saying everyone hated her when literally no one had an issue with her but him. After a lot of back and forth with HR, management, etc., she ended up quitting after he was fired because she just didn’t feel comfortable there anymore. As soon as she quit, this guy started calling her, emailing her, leaving her threatening notes in her mailbox, and stalking her. She ended up getting a restraining order and I think he ended up in jail either for violating it or something else he did.

      I’m not saying that your situation and her’s will end up exactly the same, but there are a lot of red flags in how his behavior has escalated.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      She may even be able to still collect unemployment if she quits and has enough to prove she had to get out due to it being hostile. I hear it’s a lot of paperwork and not easy to prove but sounds like Op has enough documented. But first, of course, go back to HR using the right buzz words and see if they change their tune.

  16. LSP*

    OP, I am so sorry you have had to go through this. Your coworker sounds like a nightmare, and your manager and HR rep sound utterly useless.

    I can somewhat relate, having worked in an office with some pretty toxic coworkers who used the pretense of “just kidding” to get away with saying truly horrible and degrading things to me, but Clerk sounds like he really takes the cake.

    Good luck with your move and with finding a new job. Don’t let this kind of atmosphere become normal to you. This is not normal.

  17. Erin*

    Sounds like a classic case to me of this is Not Normal and Not Okay, and if it’s not changing, you need to decide if you can deal with that or just leave.

    For what it’s worth, you sound like a really grounded, down-to-Earth, normal person who’s handling this all in stride. Much better than I or even probably most would be able to handle it. I’m confident you’re going to get a new job no problem and be just fine. Good luck!

  18. Dina*

    Check state laws and see what the recording rules are – here in NJ for instance, you don’t need someone’s permission to record them speaking. If it’s the same in your state, start carrying around a pen that doubles as a recorder and actually record this stuff, then report this to Labor and if you’re so inclined, seek legal help. This isn’t right, and the only reason they’re allowing it to continue is because you’ve been nice about it and likely deemed a non-threat.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      That’s a really good point. But check your employee handbook (if you have one) to make sure there isn’t a workplace rule against it–unless you have already accepted another offer. This sounds like the kind of place that would fire someone for making trouble by forcing them to deal with this kind of guy.

    2. Jenbug*

      Agreed. This is absolutely horrid and you need some proof.

      Are there any coworkers who have witnessed this behavior that you could ask to make statements on your behalf?

    3. Gene*

      If she is not in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, or Washington., it’s perfectly legal to record conversations that she is involved in without the permission of everyone in the conversation.

  19. Yas Queen*

    Unbelievable. I’m outraged just reading this. OP, I really hope your situation improves soon and you can leave that toxic environment. And I hope that sooner or later that company gets what’s coming to them for allowing this vile behavior. I’m just…furious.

      1. Purest Green*

        Same. I hated reading the first letter, and this one is worse. This guy is a piece of shit and so is the company. Who knows how other people might be getting treated!

  20. Aurion*

    Your boss is a spineless worm who can’t manage out of a paper sack.

    Your HR is also useless. I get that HR is there for the sake of the company and not the employee, but for the love of everything that’s holy blatant misogyny should make it onto their list of things to care about.

    We’re rooting for you, OP. And if you get an exit interview, please feel free to rip your ex-boss and ex-coworker a new one on your way out.

    Argh, I’m so mad for you.

    1. Meg*

      Even if HR is there for the company, protecting the company against harassment allegations is part of HR being there for the company. This is bad HR, regardless of to whom you think HR owes their duty to. A company is liable for harassment as soon as it is aware of the harassment and does nothing to stop it.

      1. paul*

        Yep. I’m under no illusion about HR owing me more loyalty than they owe the company, but pete’s sake this is ripe lawsuit territorty (to say nothing of plain bad management; this is the crap that runs a company down).

    2. MsCHX*

      ” I get that HR is there for the sake of the company and not the employee”

      Please stop saying this. Those of us who are in the profession and do our jobs know how to maintain the balance between the Organization as a whole and the individual employee’s needs. Not one HR Manager/Director/Employee Relations Specialist/etc. that I know personally would tolerate this treatment of one of our employees.

      And furthermore, by doing nothing, HR *is* damaging the company. I’m certain it won’t be tough for OP to find an attorney to take this on or to successfully file an EEOC complaint.

      1. BRR*

        To me, the best thing for the company often over laps with the best thing for employees. In this situation it’s in the best interest for the company to fire this toxic jerk for moral as well as cut a potential liability.

      2. NW Mossy*

        Seriously! If I were the head of HR at this company, I’d want the HR rep’s metaphorical head on a pike if I learned from an ex-employee’s complaint/suit that she’d reported the incidents and no meaningful action was taken to halt Clerk’s behavior. That’s exposing the company to serious liability, which is exactly one of the things HR is tasked with limiting.

      3. F.*

        As a former HR manager, I agree with Ms CHX. The company and the employees are not adversaries in a well-functioning company. Each benefits the other, and it is in their best interests to look out for the other. However, there are very dysfunctional companies out there (and I work for one), who prefer to stick their heads in the sand when it comes to this type (or really any type) of potential HR liability. My hands were tied, and the company owner refused to listen to reason and the law. I finally came to the conclusion that the only thing I could do was to step out of the HR position and went back to my former office manager position when the opening presented itself. In the OP’s case, the HR person may be just as frustrated as the employee is with the company’s lack of action.

      4. Aurion*

        Sorry–I didn’t mean to imply that HR people around the world wouldn’t care about the OP’s situation. As I understand it, HR’s principal duty is to keep the company from liability, which generally overlaps with treating their employees humanely–and in this case, the best thing for both company and employee would be to fire this clerk into the sun. That’s why I wrote OP’s HR, and not HR in general, but rereading it I did not phrase that well.

        1. Aurion*

          *that’s why I wrote OP’s HR is useless

          …you know what, I think I’m phrasing this terribly no matter what, so I’m going to stop digging my grave and apologize to you and HR professionals in general. OP’s HR sucks and…yeah, no more talking from me.

          1. Jadelyn*

            The biggest issue is, I think, that good HR professionals don’t see their principal duty as being about liability. That’s one of our duties, absolutely, but there’s a lot more to HR than that. Engagement and culture is another big area of our duties which people outside of HR don’t necessarily see the work going into that, so many of us feel that creating a healthy, positive workplace for employees to function within is ALSO a principal duty.

            I kind of see it like Maslow’s hierarchy – the bottom of the pyramid is liability and labor law compliance. That’s the absolute baseline of what HR needs to manage, and the absolute minimum for a functional HR department is that they’re able to handle that need. However, there are levels above that, which is where we get into stuff like culture-building and employee engagement – so when you say that HR’s principal duty is liability, you’re not entirely wrong, but there’s a lot beyond that that you’re not taking into account, and a lot of us resent being reduced to that single dimension when we are striving actively to do so much more than that.

            And in this circumstance, those two things overlap, because stopping blatant and awful harassment is both critical to maintaining a healthy work environment AND addressing a huge potential liability.

            1. MsCHX*

              “the bottom of the pyramid is liability and labor law compliance. That’s the absolute baseline of what HR needs to manage, and the absolute minimum for a functional HR department is that they’re able to handle that need.”

              Wonderfully stated!

              1. F.*

                Unfortunately, in dysfunctional companies, HR can’t even provide that minimum level of protection to either the employees or the employer. When that happens, there is no culture building and employee engagement.

            1. Aurion*

              I think comments often come in at once. No worries, I was the one who phrased things badly. All good :)

        2. F.*

          Aurion, I didn’t take it as a blanket condemnation of ALL HR professionals, so I was not offended. I did want to prevent a piling-on by other people (especially those who have never been in HR) throwing the OP’s HR department completely to the wolves. That seems to happen here from time to time. The OP’s company sounds dysfunctional all around.

      5. Jadelyn*

        Thank you. That phrase makes me grind my teeth. I’m not here for the sake of the company and f*** the employees – no competent HR professional is. Good HR, competent HR, professional HR is here for BOTH parties. The goal isn’t to take care of the company at the expense of the employees, nor vice-versa. There are absolutely crappy HR departments and people out there who see their only duty as to the company and to hell with the employees, but that in and of itself makes them bad HR, so can we not judge what the entire basic function of the profession is *supposed to be* by those individuals please?

        1. Zombii*

          But HR is there to protect the company. I don’t understand why that’s offensive or why the immediate response is to assume that protecting the company always has to be at the expense of the employees. It’s not an either/or.

          Protecting the interests of the company, as an objective goal, makes all kinds of sense—employee engagement and culture are part of protecting the company—and then instead of trying to resolve a conflict on the basis of seniority or nepotism, you decide based on what’s best for the company.

          1. Jadelyn*

            No. It isn’t. That’s PART of what HR is for. Not just *what HR is there for*. And it’s still a super reductive and in my opinion misleading way of describing the relationship between HR and employees. That explanation of “what HR is” creates a divide between HR and the employees we’re trying to help, by furthering the adversarial view of HR as “protecting the company” (with the implied “at the expense of the employees” following that, which if you’ve literally ever seen that phrase used in context you’ll know why I include that implication, because that’s pretty much always what it is there to convey – that you can’t trust HR because they’re there for the company, not for you as the employee), which is why it drives me nuts. It’s not true, and it’s actively harmful by making employees gun-shy around HR based on the belief that HR is “there to protect the company” and apparently nothing else.

      6. Candi*

        THe way I see it, treating the employees well is good for the company. While there’s always those who will never be happy or satisfied, making sure your employees are happy, healthy, and well-supplied and paid makes them more productive and more likely to stay. Good HR tries to help with this.

        OP’s HR needs to buy into their circus, stat.

    3. Addison*

      OP here- Believe me, I pre-filled out the exit interview form like two years ago, and I filled it out again with all new answers a couple months ago. I think it’s like seven pages long. I am Ready.

      1. Carpe Librarium*

        Oh wow, the capital-R ready gave me happy goosebumps!

        OP, you’ve already been generous with taking the time to write in with2 updates, but if you’re willing please let us know when you’re out of this horrible situation one way or another.

  21. Kathy*

    Gee – this is out-and-out harassment on every level. This is sexism, not to mention commenting on your personal appearance. I would seek the advice of a employment lawyer (usually consultations are free) and keep writing down the dates/times that they comments happen and doing the same when you have spoken with your manager/HR about this.

  22. fposte*

    Oy oy oy. So much horrible in so many places.

    The “are you running to mommy?” is kind of fascinating given the situation with his mom.

    1. LSP*

      Is it just me, or is anyone else picturing Clerk as Johnny from “The Karate Kid” or some other, even less charismatic bully from an ’80’s movie?

      Now we just need a good montage song for OP to play as she looks for a new job.

            1. Myrin*

              We really do (although I can never think of any words that have ever been known to me as soon as someone asks me “Is there a word for this and that?”). And in this case, there’s actually a song by my favourite band (Die Ärzte) of the same name (“Backpfeifengesicht”). Highly recommendable, although it obviously only works if the other person understands German.

              1. Julia*

                And the words we don’t have, the Japanese do. “Pretending to be out while actually at home so you don’t have to answer the door”? A simple “irusu.” Getting mad at someone for pointing out something you did wrong (like Clerk here)? “Gyakugire”. I love it.

      1. bluesboy*

        I think he might be channelling Biff from Back to the Future!

        One question re: people’s comments about sexism. While I think it probably IS sexism, the only gender references I can find in the question are the words ‘bitch’ and ‘woman’. I don’t know a lot about the law, is that likely to be enough to make a case? I mean, maybe he’s just a bad person in general.

        Regardless, OP, ‘I keep feeling it’s my fault’…yeah, it really isn’t. His behaviour is rude, unprofessional, offensive, (insert negative adjective here) and unacceptable. You are in NO way to blame. Keep your chin up, look for another job and remember that at least this experience will make all other jobs look better by comparison!

        Good luck!

        1. Temperance*

          For harassment to be gendered, it doesn’t just need to include anti-woman slurs. The comments about her body, for instance, absolutely apply.

        2. Natalie*

          Yes, the EEOC looks at the totality of the situation. An isolated “bitch” or “woman” wouldn’t rise to the legal level of harassment, but what the OP has described is almost certainly frequent enough to be considered an official “hostile work environment”.

    2. animaniactoo*

      I know, I kind of want to say “You mean like you are?” except that while it’s nice in theory, I believe it would actually make things a lot worse.

  23. Lady Phoenix*

    Omg, this whole place is hell. I am so glad you are getting out of that craphole and taking care of yourself. You pretty much have all the ground to file a suit if you want (or possibly use it to get good severence and/or reference, if Alison can verify that) because yeah, this is straight up sexual harassment.

    I hope that MAYBE you could get transferred out, but it looks like EVERYONE is an asshole or a wimp. You would sooner have to deal with someone worse.

    Just take the steps to “nope” outta there. This whole company is nothing but bs.

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      And also?

      please take care of yourself. Toxic bs like this can take a massive toll on self esteem and mental health. Take the time to heal and hopefully realize this is the end.

  24. Leatherwings*

    Oh god, OP. I am so sad and mad for you. I hope you are able to find a better situation soon and karma comes for this guy.

    1. AtomicCowgirl*

      THIS. You have a legitimate case for sexual harassment/hostile work environment. And? Your company completely sucks for allowing this to continue.

  25. BadPlanning*

    I am appalled! This is not okay, OP!! I know we shouldn’t use violence to solve our problems, but I really want to punch this guy in the nose.

    1. BadPlanning*

      OP — I also what to add that this guy is a jerk. The things he is saying are not acceptable. He is The Bad Guy (and frankly, so are HR and your boss). You are doing and saying the right things (“Don’t call me ‘woman.’ It’s degrading” ) — things that are hard to say even though they shouldn’t be. Please take care of yourself — do things you like to do, whatever they may be. I know it takes a lot more positives to make up for the negative. You are a good person and you do not deserve this treatment.

  26. jamlady*

    This is so so so so gross. I am so glad you’re planning on leaving. I can’t even believe someone would be treated so terribly by so many people (but of course I can, because we unfortunately see it all too often). Please please please tell us all immediately the second you’re free of that place so we can throw an online AAM party for you!

  27. Mustache Cat*

    I got the typical “what, are you running to mommy?”

    I found this particularly laughable because only one of the two of you has a mommy in the workplace, and it aint you.

    In any case, it’s obvious what he’s trying to do with this statement. Don’t let him abuse and bully you into not complaining about him. Keep going back to your boss. When she tells you not to worry about him, remind her that it is your job to worry about him, and that his insubordination is interfering with your ability to do other parts of your job. When HR tells you to be firmer, tell them that you have already been firm. I frankly think that “hostile workplace environment” is a legitimate phrase to throw around here.

    OP, I am crossing my fingers that the day you no longer have to work with this asshole ever again comes soon. Hold on to that thought and keep yourself sane.

    1. SarcasticFringehead*

      And when they say “just wait and see,” ask them “how long?” Make them spell out how long they want you to put up with this unacceptable behavior before they can finally be bothered to do something about it.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        That’s a really good point. How long has this been going on? How long since you reported it to boss? How long since you reported it to HR?

        1. Addison*

          HR was something like late October, early November… “wait and see” was supposed to be a couple of weeks, after we got finished with a major company event, but with the holidays and other events and planning and what have you, it fell by the wayside other than brief check-ins with Boss, who only gave me the “you guys are like my kids squabbling with each other” comments and other nonsense. I left a message… I think about a month ago? with HR but I hadn’t heard back and honestly I haven’t followed up again since, which is my bad. Sometimes I just get so exhausted of this crap I just don’t even want to deal with it. Just. ugh. no. please. Not right now.

          Honestly things have been quiet so there isn’t a lot to report in the majority anyway so I’m sure they’d say the same thing as my boss (“so it sounds like everything’s fine”) and write it off, which I also haven’t been super in the mood to hear lately.

          1. AD*

            Oh, OP, that is so not the way a conscientious manager (or HR team) should be handling this. Glad to hear you’ll be moving on from there shortly. I can’t imagine anything you do at this point having a positive impact on a company or organization so clearly dysfunctional.

          2. SarcasticFringehead*

            Also – there’s a lot of advice here (including from me), but if at the end of the day all you can do is deal with this until you get another job, that’s okay. You’re already dealing with so much – it’s not “your bad” if you don’t have the time or the energy to make yet another phone call into a void or call yet another meeting where you’ll be dismissed as a squabbling child. It’s on Jerk Clerk and your terrible boss and terrible HR, to make this right, and it’s not fair that you have to deal with it instead.

            1. Bigglesworth*

              I agree with SarcasticFringehead. Please keep hanging in there, Addison! We’re all hoping and wishing you’ll find something new and much, much, MUCH better soon!

          3. Knitchic*

            Are you feaking kidding!? You are not her squabbling kids! He’s an abusive douche canoe and the fact that you’ve been able to go into work and deal with it for so long is amazing. Your company seriously sucks. I’m so sorry you have to put up with this.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            OP, the fact that she compared you to her “squabbling kids” is ridiculous and just underscores how completely bass-ackwards your boss’ priorities are. I seriously want to reach through the computer screen and shake her while screaming “wake the eff up!” The fact that she’s marginalizing what he’s doing is giving him the opportunity to keep escalating his insane behavior. This is not ok.

            Also, you’re noting her statements/reactions in your logbook of incidents, right? If you aren’t, start tracking every time you talk to her and HR and include a few sentences reminding yourself of what was said.

            1. a different Vicki*

              I wonder whether the boss said “that’s just like my kids” because she has a scapegoat and a golden child, and dismisses justified complaints against the golden child as “squabbling” and tells the victim “don’t let it get to you” and “work it out between yourselves.” If so, the boss might be avoiding stepping in to protect the OP because if the situations are parallel, acknowledging that the OP is being mistreated might make her feel uncomfortable about how she’s treating her kids.

              But even if that’s true, it wouldn’t help the OP any.

              1. The Strand*

                Bingo. Maybe this is just how she raises her family.

                Doesn’t matter. It’s unprofessional and she deserves to land in the same dumpster, with her pink slip, as the main bully.

          5. Siberian*

            I just wanted to say I totally hear on you the getting exhausted and not being able to deal with all this. I’m an extremely proactive person, but when I’ve been in your shoes, I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t cope, or I can only cope for a short while, make one more effort to make a change, and then go back to not being able to cope. At one job where I was being harassed by my supervisor, I researched making a complaint, learned that there was a 30-day time limit from date of incident at BadStateJob (supervisor’s grandboss, whom I’d consulted, definitely left that out of our conversations), and then spoke to the whistleblower office who were very, very interested in the emails I had documenting the behavior. Found this out on my last week of work…and after I quit, I never went back to report. I had every intention to, but just couldn’t take it anymore. I took my successor out to lunch and gave her a heads up and that was it. I’m kind of embarrassed I didn’t follow through, but sometimes you’re at your limit. I hope you’re not hard on yourself about this, and I hope that you take everyone’s suggestions as useful information and a morale-boost, but not as pressure. You’re under enough pressure. :(

          6. motherofdragons*

            Even if there has been no incidents recently, doesn’t mean it’s fine.

            “So it sounds like everything’s fine?”
            “No. The fact that I have experienced repeated sexual harassment for the past X months* is NOT fine, and I’d like to know what you’re going to do about it so that it doesn’t happen again.”

            *alternatively (or additionally), you could include a tally of the number of documented incidents you’ve experienced.

          7. Not So NewReader*

            A professional manager never refers to her employees as her kids. That is boundary crossing, condescending, unprofessional, ugh, i could go on. This woman does not deserve to be a boss.

            No it is not your bad that you did not follow up. It was up to HR to respond to you and they didn’t.

            So much incompetence piled up in one place, OP, they do not deserve a good worker like you.

          8. designbot*

            I’ve been thinking over this “squabbling kids” narrative that your boss seems to be spinning, and I think it’s going to be really important to pay attention to how you present things. State the facts in a level, clear tone, without judgement or emotion. That way there’s no “we thought you were exaggerating” or ” that’s just your opinion” or “calm down, it can’t be that bad” type response.

            It sounds like a lot of your interactions about this have been rushed, have been full of metaphors that aren’t helping people understand the issue clearly, and I really think it would help to spell it out in really bare terms. Just, he has continued to behave very differently to me in private than the way he behaves in front of you or others. He does not address me by my name, he continues to use expletives directed towards me, and he has escalated to making repeated comments about my gender and appearance, as well as comments that imply that he has discussed with others in the company that I am unwelcome here, such as when he informed me that the group “voted me off the island” or to “be quiet because men are talking.” I have attempted to address this several times in a professional manner directly with him, through yourself, and through our HR team, and the antagonistic and gender-based behavior towards me persists. The latter issue particularly concerns me because the company allowing him to harass me based on my gender gives the impression that the company endorses his views on the subject.

            1. Julia*

              You’re probably right, but it’s so infuriating that OP has to be totally calm and reasonable in order to maaaaybe be believed, when Clerk is getting away with all. that. crap.

    2. Amadeo*

      My dream response to the mommy comment would be something along the lines of “The alternative is that I hit you. I think you’d prefer I ran to ‘mommy’.”

  28. jv*

    You know, I’d be VERY tempted to talk to his parent about his behaviour. Let them know that you’re stuck in this situation and you’ve asked him to stop. You’ve also pursued the issue with HR but they are too scared to confront it.

    What else do you have to lose at this point? Escape with your dignity. This is NOT healthy.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I was thinking the same thing. I would be SO tempted to go to his mother and say “Did you raise your son to treat women like shit? Do you condone sexual harassment? If not, then your standing is allowing your son to behave like a complete degenerate at work without consequences. I truly hope this isn’t a reflection of you and he is doing it without your knowledge, simply hoping your position keeps him safe. He is completely unprofessional, a bully, and has terrible work ethic. He is skimming by hoping his name is enough to get him out of the scut work. I know if it were my child, I would be embarrassed and furious they were behaving in this manner, especially when my professional name was attached to it. I hope you are as well.”

    2. Tuxedo Cat*

      I agree it’s not healthy, but if the OP is in a situation where she needs the job and can’t afford to quit today, I wouldn’t risk it.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m worried that going to his mother just makes OP look unprofessional because in theory, his mom is not in their reporting chain. I understand the circumstances here are different, but if you had an abusive coworker who worked next door to his mom, would you walk over to tell her about him? It would seem way inappropriate and borderline scary. I really want OP to have the chance to take the high road so that there’s NOTHING for her employer to try to latch onto when the shit hits the fan.

    4. cleo*

      I don’t think that it’s the right thing to do, but in my fantasy world, the LW becomes friends with the mom/admin, asks her for her advice on how to deal with a difficult situation, tells the whole sorry story without naming names, and then (after the mom is apalled and gives good advice) makes the big reveal. And the mom makes her son shape up. And they all live happily ever after.

    1. Liane*

      “Inquires the baby hiding behind his mommy’s bottom–I mean desk. Why don’t you run along to her cube, little guy, sounds like it’s past time for your bottle & diaper change?”

  29. GreyjoyGardens*

    You poor LW! Nobody should have to endure this nonsense! From what you said about the company not caring much about who it hires, just wanting butts in seats, it sounds like this company is well down the path of the bad driving out the good and it becoming a wretched hive of the naive (until they wise up), the dysfunctional and the otherwise unemployable.

    Jerk Clerk’s behavior sounds well within the bounds of sexual harassment – can you lawyer up and see if you have grounds for legal action? I’d love to see this company sued into the ground and given a scathing write-up on Glassdoor. Sure, that burns a bridge, but some bridges are meant to be burned. I wonder if this company has a bad name in its industry anyway.

  30. Kate*

    OP, I want to focus on what you said at the end of the letter that you are feeling lethargic and not engaged and that it’s using all your spoons to get through the work day leaving you pretty well hibernating at the end of the week re-gaining power to get through another gauntlet. I had a job that made me feel worse every week and like I was getting worse at my profession when I was there (not just my job, but my EVERYTHING!!), and I didn’t realize just how draining it was until I quit and found another job.
    Suddenly I was able to make it to the office not just on time, but early, and didn’t notice when I was working late because it was on a fun/important project. My family asked if I had seen a better mental health practitioner (I was seeing the same person I had been seeing for a few years for other stuff), because they noticed that my moods were so much better…
    You don’t have to put up with abuse, and I’d strongly recommend you leave any organization where “any warm body” is enough for them, no matter how useless or abusive that body is.
    We’re all rooting for you, and hoping that things go well! I hope next update is one where you can tell us that either you’ve moved on or your toxic coworker was let go… good luck!

    1. Emmie*

      Yes, OP. We are all rooting for you. This does indeed sound like an abusive coworker, and what you’re feeling could be the impact of that interaction (although I am not qualified to diagnose the relationship). If you are open to changing companies, this may solve some of those issues. Good luck!

    2. I Like Pie*

      THIS. I’ve had a couple of jobs that at the end of the day would leaving me feeling emotionally drained. All within the same industry, so I’d just excuse it as part of the field and think “I just have to toughen up and get used to it.” Each time I’d move to a new job I’d feel a sense of relief until the stress would build up again and I’d think it has to be me, as I was the common factor. At my current job, this started again, and I finally said no, it can’t be just me. And I started to find my voice and leave work at work, go home at a decent hour – no work can keep me in office late unless I’m going to be paid for me time from now on; I stopped hanging out with coworkers who’d complain about work at lunch or after hours. Just learning to detach from the toxicity helped me learn how to cope as an employee and get myself back to feeling straight again.

      OP, this is not your fault. You may have been okay with it to start (but not really, ok-ok, I think) but that doesn’t allow anyone to continue their behavior after you’ve asked for an end. Take care of your heart and soul, and forgive yourself of blame – it’s not you, it’s him. And he is a douchebag. I wish I could give you snappy comebacks for every smart-arse thing he says.

    1. fposte*

      Might be the rare case where that could apply; unfortunately, it’s still a lot of work for the OP to go through and it might not be worth it.

  31. animaniactoo*

    OP, in the event that you haven’t gotten a job yet, *and* you don’t want to get a lawyer and pursue a harassment claim, here’s some things to think about:

    1) That meeting that only contained him? You can walk out of that. Get up and walk out and if he wants a meeting with you, you insist that HR has to be there. Not your boss, you want HR. Because boss has already proven ineffective.

    2) Who is admin’s boss? Because admin’s boss might be *really* pissed to find out that her son is running around doing this and nobody is willing to fire him for fear of pissing her off.

    3) When he says “You’re going to run to mommy?” “If that’s what it takes to make this stop, yes. Yes I will. I will do whatever it takes to get you to stop, because I’m not okay with you treating me like this anymore. So… do I have to get Boss/HR involved or are we done here?” Own the response, don’t let his characterization of it as immature put you off standing behind it.

    1. animaniactoo*

      Please note: I’m not saying stay and put up with it, I’m just talking about coping stuff that may help until you do find something better. Rooting for you, I hope it’s soon!

    2. JMegan*

      I was going to say the same about the meeting. There was no work-related purpose for it, and he’s not allowed to talk to you like that even if there was. Next time he tries anything like that, or says *anything* about your appearance, gender, clothing, etc etc etc – basically anything that is not 100% work-related AND 100% polite and professional – walk away. Don’t argue with him, don’t say you’re reporting it, and definitely do not try to justify anything or get into a back-and-forth with him. Just walk away.

      And then, of course, document the incident with your manager and HR. Even if they’re not going to help you, they at least need to see what you’re dealing with here.

    3. Artemesia*

      When he said ‘You’re going to run to mommy?’ it’s too bad you didn’t head for HIS mommy right then. as in ‘Yes, that’s a great idea, let’s go see your Mommy.’

    4. Not So NewReader*

      “She is not mommy, we are not siblings. She is the boss and we are adults. I am reporting sexual harassment which is against the law. “

  32. Naomi*

    So glad you’re planning to get out, OP! I bet your boss changes her tune about this guy once you’re gone and she has to deal with him directly.

    1. Christine*

      OP — does your employer offer EAP? You can also get some counseling to handle the stress, etc. Maybe even discuss the situation and go over your options.

    2. The Strand*

      This is quite possible. I think on the original post I mentioned a young guy who worked for me at the beginning of my career, who was a total nightmare, and just had issues with women managers and coworkers. Lots of gaslighting too from a few men in our managing team a level up, that maybe I wasnt tough enough, strong enough, clear enough, in managing him. After several months, while I would’ve preferred firing, he was in hot water but given a second chance, and got transferred to another team. I’ll never forget that lead coming to me later on, and saying what an awful, lazy, negative employee he was, that whatever doubts she had about me managing him properly, considering the scuttlebutt upstairs, had evaporated. His contract was not renewed.

      That said. OP, vindication is sweet but not guaranteed. You must put you first. File formally while youre still there, then get a new job, then file EEOC if it hasn’t abated. But you do you first.

  33. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

    Utterly disgusting – but maybe not surprising given the vicious misogynistic backlash that is trying to take over our culture and political scene right now.

    People like him should be unemployable and deserve to be kicked out on the street. Shame on your boss and on this guy’s mother (who probably knows what’s going on, given that she works there) for enabling him.

  34. Lady Phoenix*

    Speaking of management not handling an obvious EEOC situation, please tell me we will have an update on the asshole that kept harassing a woman for her prosthetic. I have to know if that got an update!

        1. JessaB*

          We do not need ill velociraptors and gila monsters running around sicking up. Please do not feed the jerkfaces and meany heads (Mr B has a way of calling them this where the tone translates to such nastiness, much like the Southern use of “Bless your heart,”) to the livestock. Thank you. You can of course set them to cage cleaning. There’s plenty of waste matter to shovel.

  35. Menacia*

    Hi OP, it does sound like you’ve done all the right things but no one is willing to do anything about this asshat probably due to workplace politics. Your boss and HR are cowards, period. Sounds like you have a great plan and once you start putting that into place, you will feel so much better about everything. I hope we hear another update from you once you are on the other side of this. I know that it’s such a cliché, but it’s truly these types of crappy experiences and how you handle them that can build your resilience for future challenges.

  36. tink*

    Oh my gosh. I am so sorry the situation is so bad for you and that your boss and HR think that it’s okay for a coworker to treat you that way. I hope you find something better, and please, please look into whether or not something can be done outside the workplace, because this is not okay, and the fact that it’s affecting at LEAST your mental health, if not also your physical health really worries me.

    Also, if phones aren’t completely banned in your workplace, consider taking overt video recordings of this obnoxious cretin when he starts in on you. He’ll either stop or give you video evidence to take to HR (or an ombudsman or employment lawyer). But mostly I just hope you either find something soon or figure out that you’ve got enough of a safety net to tell them where to take the verbal abuse they’re tacitly approving.

  37. CaliCali*

    How are they not freaking out about potentially getting sued? He’s not some higher-up with a bunch of clout. He’s just someone’s son. Thing is, even if they do manage to fire him, their behavior to this point has shown they have no respect for the OP. She needs to get out ASAP.

  38. SaraV*

    My brain to typing fingers filter has smoking gears from working so hard right at this moment.

    Someone upthread mentioned recording the conversation. I looked up the states that require two-party consent. They are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.

    So if you DON’T live in one of those states, you can record conversations without this jackhole’s consent, as long as you consent to the recording. (Since you would be the recorder, I suppose you would)

    The best of luck to you, OP, in finding a new job, and whatever other next steps you might take. We’re rooting for you.

    1. Addison*

      OP here- Yeah, I’m in CA so no luck there. I do meticulously write down everything he says word for word, timestamp and date it, and keep it on a password protected file on my computer. When I met with HR I actually printed it out to either show it to her or read it out loud myself but we never actually got around to referencing it. I told my boss I kept a log and she said “seriously?” in a way that immediately put me off from showing her what I had, like maybe she would use it as a case against ME somehow or.. I dunno. It scared me off.

      1. Mustache Cat*

        Your boss is the worst, your HR is the worst, show them both the log and do not let them talk you out of it. There aren’t any guarantees that they’ll do anything, but they’ll have less excuse not to do anything. And if you can show them this log and they truly, truly don’t see anything wrong with it, you’ll learn something extremely valuable (and potentially litigable) about this company.

        California has workplace protections, at least, so there’s that on your side. Please go talk to an employment lawyer (I saw below that you were considering talking to your Grandma’s employer–I’m sure he’s a great lawyer but you really want to talk to someone who specializes in employment law).

        1. Zahra*

          Maybe Grandma’s employer can refer her to an employment lawyer? As long as it’s a Californian employment lawyer.

        2. Christine*

          E-mail them the log & cc: corp HR if possible and bc your personal e-mail address. Do not have all of your files at work.

      2. SarcasticFringehead*

        I’m sure you know this, but make sure you have your own updated copy of the log, stored on a computer that’s not company property. It sounds like your boss would have no problem “accidentally” locking you out or destroying evidence in order to save themselves the hassle of dealing with this toxic shitbag.

      3. VivaL*

        Oh my gosh- EMAIL this to them!! Don’t shy away from the terribleness – please! They proabably have no idea how extensive it is. Use “sexual harassment complaint” liberally when you do email it.

      4. Becky*

        Any chance of recording anyway?–I mean just go into the meeting and say “I will be recording this meeting” and consent is presumed if meeting continues. (Like your consent is assumed if you stay on a phone call after is says “this call may be recorded for training and quality control purposes”)

        1. Engineer Girl*

          CA is a two party consent state where you have to give permission. It also has privacy as a constitutional right which affects the laws in odd ways.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I wouldn’t. Unless there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy and the individual should have known or was told they were being recorded, making a “secret recording” without consent opens you up to criminal liability in CA.

          But OP is doing everything right by documenting everything and trying to capture what was said verbatim.

        3. Julia*

          I was thinking the same thing. Could she tell Clerk “Are you okay with me recording what you say” and do it?

      5. Student*

        I’m skeptical this will help, but you might need to actually read one day’s worth of comments out to your boss, and explain that this is what you are getting from him every time you interact, not just once.

        Then tell the boss you won’t tolerate being treated like this, and that you expect Boss to make it stop immediately. Not just a complaint, a clear demand that the boss put an immediate and complete stop to it.

        If this insane co-worker has taught you anything, he has taught you that your boss will not fire people under any circumstances. So be a bigger pain int he boss’s rear to try to motivate action. If you get fired for reporting the co-worker’s terrible behavior and demanding it stop, that’s a far more clear-cut case of retaliation than any claim of harassment itself ever is, and it might make it easier for you to consider legal options, escalate above the boss’s head, or at least get unemployment.

      6. Jadelyn*

        Oh my lord you are in Cali-freaking-fornia and they’re being this blase about it??? I am ready to start headdesking. I’m an HR person in California and I am APPALLED at their lack of responsiveness about the issue. My org would have had a “come to Jesus” talk with him precisely ONCE, probably directly with the VP of HR, and then he would have been walked out the door on the spot the next time it happened. This is unbelievable, and I am so sorry you’re having to deal with it.

        1. regina phalange*

          that is what I was thinking!! California is very pro-employee and there is no way this jackhole would last four seconds anywhere else. Nice to see that your org would handle that appropriately.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Like, of all the possible places to play chicken with employment law compliance…probably the literal worst. Yeesh.

        2. DoDah*

          I dunno. I’m in Cali and worked in a 200 employee, family owned, ISV where this stuff happened (harassment, bullying, hostile workplace) all of the time. It’s quite easy for the organization to look the other way. Especially when the perpetrator is a family member or a favorite.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Oh, I’d never deny that it *can* happen anywhere. I just expect that HR professionals in California, even more so than everywhere else, would recognize that the potential consequences of not dealing with that crap appropriately can be far more intense for us than for people working in states without California’s robust level of worker protections.

      7. Engineer Girl*

        Get that log off your computer! It will “disappear” if you don’t. Print it out. Take it home. Keep paper copies updated daily.
        Also use email as that is discoverable.
        Your HR and your boss are raging incompetents that are trying to gaslight you into accepting an unacceptable situation.

        1. MC*

          YES – please start an email trail to HR and copy your boss. Either bcc your private email or print the emails and responses out and bring them home. You may get slapped for routing emails outside of your organization but if this does go to trial and they don’t have these emails the penalty (and your possible winnings) could be in the multi-millions. (I used to work in legal discovery). Even if you are sending them an updated log so they have this in their records or that day’s nonsense, or a recap of the conversation that you had with your boss or HR – it will put them on notice that you are recording this.

        2. The Strand*

          Hell, to be safe, I’d email to two personal email addresses in case you lose acess to one. Or better, a copy to you and to your lawyer.

          If you print a complaint also and send it certified mail to the company counsel, it will be noticed.

        3. Engineer Girl*

          Also – DO NOT under any circumstances let your employer touch your records. Give them copies if needed but never ever the originals. The originals may “accidentally” get destroyed.

          1. MC*

            That’s the point of copying yourself and keeping a paper copy. The penalty for “accidentally” destroying information is significantly higher than actually being dicks. As soon as you start emailing HR – they should be smart enough to realize that you have started recording this and they are on notice. That means that any correspondence must be retained. Even if you haven’t filed a suit, talked to the EEOC, etc. doesn’t matter – as soon as you start sending emails they need to start protecting the company from spoliation (the destruction of information). That means that they’ll either start taking this seriously or you’ll find yourself with evidence of harassment and retaliation.

            I’m sorry you’re going through this – it sucks.

          2. MC*

            Definitely keep copies. Make sure they are time stamped. The penalty for destroying evidence is actually higher than for being an asshole. As soon as you start sending emails – HR should be smart enough to know they need to issue a legal hold and retain any emails about this situation. You don’t have file a suit or go to the EEOC for them to be on notice. Keep a copy of everything. As soon as they figure out that this isn’t going away – they’ll either make your life better or they’ll be facing a harassment and retaliation suit.

            Seriously, talk to an employment lawyer. You could really make a difference here.

      8. Adrienne*

        Mention the log to your boss again. If she makes the same type of “seriously?” comment, tell her that your lawyer said you should document everything.

      9. notgiven*

        What if you had your speakerphone on when you walk into a room with him and HR and boss and grandboss all listening in? It isn’t a recording.

      10. Nobody Here By That Name*

        In the words of my CEO – who has been on the wrong side of at least one EEOC lawsuit that I know of – an employee with a stack of documentation is a company’s worst nightmare when cases like these come up. You are ABSOLUTELY doing the right thing by documenting and time stamping. I agree with what others have said about emailing copies of the files to yourself and making copies in general.

        This guy is an ass. His behavior should’ve qualified him to be fired long ago. It’s not you, it is definitely him. You are allowed and encouraged to say that this is an official harassment complaint.

        Hang in there.

      11. Sarah M*

        Since you can’t record him without his consent, do it with his acknowledgement. The next time you are alone with him and he looks like he is about to speak, whip out your phone, start recording and say, “I am going to record the rest of this interaction. You can not talk, if you don’t care to be recorded.” Then maybe he’ll shut up. Win-win.

        1. JessaB*

          Make sure you get the part about “I am going to record, etc.” ON the recording. Start recording then say it. Otherwise even if he continues and consents by continuing he’ll come back later and say you didn’t tell him you were recording.

      12. Christine*

        When you e-mail things to them about this issue, etc., be sure to forward a copy to yourself afterwards.

      13. Nea*

        She can’t use it as a case against you, or you can claim that she is destroying your documentation of harassment.

        What she’s trying to do is make you voluntarily give it up. Don’t. Don’t leave your access to it in her power either – mail it to yourself or print it out and put it in your bag, or whatever you have to do to make sure that you can take it to legal counsel.

        And if she says anything offputting again, point out calmly that you need the log as part of your legal records.

      14. zee_marshmallow*

        A good way to back up files is in the draft folder of an email account. Make a gmail just for this and save the file every time it’s updated. That way, if something happens to the computer or back-up drive at work, you’ll have a copy off-site.

        And good on you for keeping such impeccible records. That’s going to serve you well.

        And I know what you mean about that tone of voice, and being worried about written statements being used against you. You did your best and that’s all you can do with people like this (and I use the term ‘people’ loosely).

      15. Bibliovore*

        Okay- deep breaths.
        You have a written account.
        Perfect. Really good.
        First take care of your own mental health etc.
        Print out the file. Save on a drive. All of it.Print it out. Bring it home.
        Start each day with calm breathing time. Eat well balanced meals. List your gratitudes.
        Keep it simple- a roof over your head, clean clothes to wear, food in the fridge, loving family and friends.
        Every day (maybe around 10 or 11) look on line to see if there is a 3:00 or 4:00 matinee of a movie you would like to see.
        When and if clerk makes an obnoxious remark- do not respond. walk out of the room- No matter who is in it. Note the remark, send to hr. and to supervisor. ( do not worry about their reaction, or how you will be perceived, at this point it just doesn’t matter)
        Remind yourself that you are not enslaved and can leave at any time. Perhaps to go see a movie.

      16. Dulcinea*

        California?! Seriously go make some lawyers day and ca them with this. Be sure to note you have been documenting things. As I said elsewhere these kinds if cases can often be done on contingency and I’d bet there’s an employment lawyer out there willing to take your case. (I am a lawyer with some employment experience but not CA)

      17. Randy K*

        I also live in a “two party consent” state and as I mentioned further up thread, if possible let this guy go to voice mail if/when he calls. If he leaves a message, that is consent and you can then in turn use the recording. If your VM system allows you to remotely check your messages, call in with your cell phone and an app to record the call, that way you have a long-term record of the call.

      18. Observer*

        So, do yourself a favor. Have one more meeting with HR. Tell her up front that this is absolutely sexual harassment, and the company needs to stop it. Then come into the meeting with your log and give it to her first thing. If she says “really!” Say “Yes. It’s completely legal and appropriate. And I want to make sure you have the documentation you need to finally take action.”

        She’s surely trying to intimidate you, but there is nothing there for her to use against you.

        The only thing I would make sure to do is to keep an up to date copy of the file off site so they can’t have IT “accidentally” wipe it.

      19. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        You’re in CA? Get yourself to an employment attorney stat. Anyone decent won’t charge you and you’ve got a slam dunk case. If you google [your county] bar association, you should be able to find some sort of referral service.

    2. Purest Green*

      I would be tempted to ask for his consent. “Do you consent to my recording our interactions from now on? Because you seem so comfortable freely making these comments about me that I assume you wouldn’t have a problem with it.”

        1. salysey@sonic.net*

          Having been through something comparable, this was the tack I was thinking of OP.

          First, make him come to you – no matter what it is say “Yes, come to my desk and we can discuss it.”

          Next, every time, “Oh this sounds important, I’m going to record this conversation so I don’t mistakenly miss something important you are relaying.”

          Any and all other communication must be email. “I’m trying something new to help with my task planning. If you have any needs, requests or comments, email them to me.”

          And anytime he tries to talk to you face to face or how ever he is doing it now, calmly put up your index finger and say “Let me get my recorder this sounds important.”

          This is a bit of the long way around but basically give him no means to talk to you voice to voice, or any verbal exchange.

          When I was a kid I got teased a lot and my parents were always telling me to ignore them and it would go away. It’s never quite that easy but yes, ignore all verbal input from him. Turn your chair and body away from him, literally walk away from him mid-sentence/word, give him no response, give the beast no fuel.

          And if he persists make a hand gesture like “yack, yack, yack” (looks like a duck quaking) accompanied by “When what you have to say is work related I’ll be happy to discuss.” or even a simple “Nope.” and walk away.

          I used most of this when I was the only female in a primarily male school/job. Carrying my note book and writing things down when they were saying them started a de-escalation of the harassment.

          For students who were the same rank as me, I just said “No.” and walked away. It takes a while but such an emotional life saver in the moment. One guy who was the pettiest and kind of a ring leader started getting flack from all the other guys when they started doing what I was doing for protection, to tease him.

          And no matter what happens, you are not less than, you are not in any way to blame for this and your boss is an idiot and an enabler.

          I wonder if you were at this point, the next time you go to your boss can you say, “The bottom line is I have consulted a lawyer and I am seeking employment elsewhere. Is this the result you will be happy with or could we finally do something about the problem?”

          Of course that could end with her saying fine, and letting you go sooner than you had planned. But can you arrange somethings so you can take that action? It’s just so satisfying and self preserving.

          Good luck and thanks for keeping us in the loop.

          There is something better coming for you.

    3. Pennalynn Lott*

      Addison – This guy sounds like such a full-of-himself douchecanoe that you might want to try pulling out your phone and saying, “Do you mind if I record this?” I’ve seen people like this, the kinds who see themselves as Untouchable By Management, guffaw and tell the person to go ahead and record them. Just be sure to verify again after you start recording, “Because you said you were fine with it, I’m recording this now,” so that you’ve got him agreeing to it on tape.

  39. Katy*

    I must have missed this in your previous letters – his MOTHER works there? I’m really good at dreaming up mic-drop scenarios that never work out in real life, but I wonder what consequences there would be to recording one of these incidents and sharing with his, ahem, Mommy. Maybe save it as a last-day thing?

    We are all on your side here. Here’s to your new job appearing as soon as humanly possible.

  40. Where's my hyphen?*

    The sad thing about situations like this is that you have no control over the persons behaviour, even as a supervisor or manager. That -should- be what HR is for. LW, you’re right to leave. Insist on an exit interview.

    1. Jadelyn*

      Unless you can fire him. Which it’s way past time for, and it doesn’t sound like OP’s boss is actually willing to support their authority that far.

  41. Mustache Cat*

    Oh! Also, regarding the part where you asked him to stop referring to you as “woman”: try not to get drawn into a back-and-forth about anything with this jerk.

    Don’t feel like you have to defend a perfectly reasonable, sane request. He will try to argue you down about everything. But every time he says something objectionable to you, just say, “Don’t call me that.” And let him ramble and rant, and just say, calmly, “It’s not appropriate for work. Stop that.” Do not argue; when you argue with an idiot and a bigot, no one can win. And do this every single time he says something objectionable to you. Every. Time. I learned this when I was an elementary school tutor. It just opens the door to “well one time she didn’t say anything so I assume she was fine with it”.

    1. ZVA*

      Yeah, I have to agree with this. Set your boundaries but don’t feel you have to justify them to him. My heart really goes out to you, OP—I’m so sorry this is happening, your higher-ups have MAJORLY let you down, and I’m glad to hear you’re planning to get the hell out of there. Everyone here wishes you all the luck in the world in your job search.

    2. spocklady*

      YES THIS. It reminded me of that letter about the guy who was hassling younger women at church events — I’ll put the link below.
      There was a really good quote in there from Marie, who mentioned that this is a thing little kids and teenager are AWESOME at, sometimes referred to as rules-lawyering (ok not exactly, but it’s related). I think a similar script would work well for you (or at least make you feel less frustrated, and not like you have to engage with this dillhole):

      “Stop doing the thing.” “But I’m not doing *the thing*, I’m doing something *like* the thing and it’s really unfair–” “You’re not stupid and neither am I. You know what I mean. Stop doing the thing.” “But you haven’t let me explain–” “And I’m not going to. Stop doing the thing. You know better.” “You’re so mean and I’m not even doing the thing but I’m doing the other thing and–” “I don’t have time to argue this. Stop doing the thing and I’m done with this conversation.” “But you haven’t even listened–” “I’m taking the thing away and we’re going home.” “But I didn’t even do the thing!!!!!!!” “You know exactly what you did because you are a smart person and neither of us believes you.”

      1. spocklady*

        Also I would just like to say what everyone else is saying here — this is 100% unacceptable, this company sounds super lame, I hope you take care of yourself and that you find a new job so fast!

        Seriously sending jedi hugs from the internet. So much not ok and my heart is hurting for you.

  42. Susan*

    Can you record him saying these horrible things to you and just play the recording to HR and/or your boss? His behavior is so beyond what is acceptable. I’m so sorry this is happening.
    I hope you find a fabulous new job soon.

    1. Down Home Auditor in SC*

      I second this!!! I hope OP lives in a state where she can record others without their knowledge!!

      Even if it IS illegal in her state, I’d do it anyway. Record one good tirade from him, march immediately to HR, and play it back. This is harassment clear as day, and it sounds like it’s pretty likely that they’re a large enough company to be governed by Title 7.

    2. Down Home Auditor in SC*

      I second this!!! Unfortunately, OP lives in CA, where it’s illegal to record others without their consent.. :-(

      That said, if I were here, I think I’d do it anyway. Record one good tirade from him, march immediately to HR, and play it back. This is harassment clear as day, and it sounds like it’s pretty likely that they’re a large enough company to be governed by Title 7.

      1. Christine*

        She could get terminated if she did this. Than she would have an issue with any lawsuit, EEOC claims, etc. OP has to appear above board.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        No, don’t do it if you’re in California. Depending on a bunch of details related to when/how/if you unlawfully record someone without their consent, it can qualify as a misdemeanor in addition to giving the employer an excuse to fire OP.

      3. rubyrose*

        What about whipping out the recorder and asking for his permission? Either a) he gives permission and cleans up his act, b) he says no and you leave the room, telling him you are willing to speak with him if he consents, or c) you have it recorded that you asked permission and he goes off because he was asked.

        You would need to do this every time you dealt with him, but if it forces him to behave…

    3. Ann Cognito*

      Yeah, definitely don’t record in CA without his clear consent. At my last job, we terminated an employee who recorded her supervisor without letting her know she was being recorded.

  43. BethRA*

    I have no advice to offer that hasn’t been offered already, but wanted to remind you that:

    a) it’s not your fault
    b) this guy is a horrible, miserable human being
    c) your boss and your HR team aren’t much better, and
    d) this is not. your. fault.

    1. The Grammarian*

      I want to echo what Beth said. He’s being an awful abuser and your employer is being reprehensible in not disciplining him in some way. No one has the right treat you like crap. You have every right to lodge a formal complaint. I hope you find a workplace where you can shine and no one will try to take that shine away from you.

  44. Jessie*

    Just to echo others, but OP, this coworker’s nasty insults and comments are very obviously gendered (as in – targeting you because of your gender, based on your gender – the insults themselves are about you being a woman and how you look, etc). HR knows, your boss knows. eople throw the phrase “hostile work environment” around when it is not relevant, but here it actually is. If you want to pursue it, you have cause. You can consult with an employment attorney but you can also just read your company’s reporting policies for sexual harassment and then report it to whomever the policy tells you to report to. If nothing happens, you can file a complaint with the EEOC.

    You can also just decide to get the hell out of Dodge, of course. But if you feel stuck while you are at this place and feel like you want it. to. stop. right. now., know that you have things you can do.

  45. Interviewer*

    HR clerk gave you round 1 advice for 1st time issues (i.e., like one comment). For complex, long-term harassment that escalates even after addressing it directly, HR should have initiated a full investigation. And his admin mom should be partitioned off from the whole deal, unable to influence the outcome.

    Do you have a harassment policy in your employee handbook? It should outline a process to follow for reporting harassment: report it immediately to your supervisor, or the director of HR. Write up your complaint and take it to HR, along with a copy of the policy. Make sure in your letter that you mention approximate timeframes or dates you met with your supervisor without results, and the first time you met with HR without any results. Give 2-3 specific examples of his recent behavior or comments. Do not speculate on the cause or reasons for the harassment. Keep it brief, like no more than 2 pages for everything. In the meeting, listen patiently and take notes. Then after your meeting, send a copy of your letter, the policy and any notes or action items from the meeting, to your HR Director and whoever the HR Director reports to. Go ahead and cc your home email address, too. Don’t tell HR in the meeting you’re planning to send that follow up email – just do it.

    You can file a complaint, even if you are planning to leave. They need to know that this liability is out there, and you are in a position to do something about it.

    Good luck to you.

    1. Troutwaxer*

      If you don’t have an employee handbook or something similar, you might email both your boss and H.R. and ask them what the official procedure is for handling something like this. Then print out the letter and save it at home. That way you don’t get wrongfooted by the EEOC if you chose to sue.

  46. designbot*

    Honestly this is one of the few times I would consider just walking out one day and never coming back. Tell the unemployment office that your workplace failed to protect you from documented harassment and let the unemployment cushion the blow of being out of a job. Just protect your own mental health and get away from this truly horrible person.

    1. LawCat*

      +1,000 OP should check out her state’s unemployment insurance criteria as this may be a scenario where you can quit and still qualify for benefits.

      1. Natalie*

        OP has indicated they are in California, which does provide unemployment for voluntary quits under some circumstances:
        State law provides that an individual who quits his/her job may be eligible for UI benefits provided there was “good cause” for leaving employment, and the individual made all reasonable attempts to keep their job (e.g., request of leave of absence or transfer). Once all reasonable alternatives to leaving have been attempted, good cause may include situations such as leaving work due to unsafe working conditions, leaving work based on a medical doctor’s advice, or leaving work to protect oneself or one’s child from domestic violence.

        I would hope this would qualify, although it might be worth asking the employment lawyer other people have recommended OP talk to.

        1. designbot*

          yeah in that case to fulfill the reasonable attempts I would first ask to be moved to a different office and possibly a different department than the offender. Heck, if the dice come up in your favor and it works, that would at least be some measure of relief to not be in close quarters with him every day, right?

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Sexual harassment resulting in a hostile work environment satisfies “good cause” under California law re: UI. The trouble is that it takes a lot of paperwork to make your case (because often people think they left because of discrimination, when really they left because people were jackholes). That shouldn’t dissuade OP from looking into UI, but I wanted to clarify that harassing conduct of this severity would constitute “good cause.”

          1. Natalie*

            Totally helpful clarification. IMO the LW should get the hell out of dodge, but it’s good for her to know what to take with her so she can at least get UI.

  47. Apollo Warbucks*

    That’s a really distressing update to read.

    OP I hope you find yourself in a better place soon, you deserve so much better than that.

    Good luck, and please come back and let us know when you’ve handed your notice in.

  48. FiveWheels*

    All I have to say is RUN! Where I live this behaviour would be illegal and you could get a very nice settlement from your (hopefully soon to be ex) employer. Your lawyer wouldn’t even have to get out of bed.

    This place should get an award for worst company. Wow.

  49. Ted Mosby*

    I’m so livid for you OP. Nothing makes me angrier than when people in power, whos job it is to fix this kind of thing, act like other people’s insane behavior is just your poor conflict resolution skills. Like if you were stern enough and just went back to your boss it would be fine. Then they ignore the fact that you’re already doing those two things and just keep telling you to do them over and over, and the fact that it’s not working and it is now their job to fix it. I feel like this is almost more HR and your boss’s fault because they KNOW this is wrong and aren’t doing anything to stop it. A lot of these comments (calling your coworker a fat ****?????) would be friable offenses at a lot of places, first time, no warning.

    Please hang in there. We’re all rooting for you!

  50. Addison*

    Howdy y’all, it’s OP… just wanted to say I’m hoping to comment around a little bit soon (I realized I haven’t done much of that in the past and there was a lot of stuff I could have said, but I was just so frazzled) but… yeaaah. I submitted this I think a few weeks ago and not a lot is any different, although Clerk is supposed to only be full-time through this year and then going back down to part time. He wants to pursue EMT training and has been doing volunteering for some other thing, and he was telling me his training schedule might conflict with coming to work so maybe he’ll quit??! Maybe I’ll quit first, ha ha beat you to it?! I’ve just kind of blocked everything out, don’t talk much, come in, haul ass on my work and do the best that I can because I’m still pretty passionate about the actual job part of having a job, and then go home and deal with the million other things I’ve got going on.

    I dunno, it just sucks. I really want to stay here in spite of its many issues, it has a lot of pros for all the cons, but after having this happen I’m just really let down. Not to mention we had some shenanigans with our holiday party where my boss, supposedly voicing comments from higher-ups, spoke very derogatorily about my mother (she was my +1) and that was an even bigger step over the line than even this junk with Clerk has been. I won’t get too much into it but suffice to say that the things said were mindblowingly rude and some of it was directed at me as well. So. There’s also that.

    I’ve been applying to jobs and I created a LinkedIn since I didn’t have one before but I haven’t really been wowed by what I’ve applied to. Still keeping my eyes open, hoping something great will come along. I haven’t had my employee review yet (it’s in a couple days) but I do plan on letting my boss know as pragmatically as possible how this has affected me. I’m hesitant to mention it potentially causing me to leave since I don’t have anything lined up yet and I don’t want them to beat me to the punch but sometimes it’s very tempting. A rendition of “F this sh I’m out” would be soooo satisfying. But I gotta behave even if nobody else is.

    My grandma works for a lawyer and I’ve already talked to him recently about my car (BRAND NEW car got backed into by a water delivery truck!!! 2016 is the worst!!) and I was thinking about mentioning all this to him too, but ugh. Honestly, I would be much happier not to make waves/burn bridges and just fake my way through this until I can zoom the heck outta here. Maybe not the most ambitious choice since you guys are right, I’m sure I have a case here, but I’m just… so tired. Always. My boss relates this to her children squabbling with each other. She says I’m only making this an issue because I’m a control freak or because I’m jealous Clerk is dating a coworker I am/was friendly with (“was” because I immediately distanced myself from her once I found out- I actually distanced myself from everyone, removed all coworkers from Facebook and privated everything, stopped going to lunch or outside-the-office functions with them, etc) and it’s just Outrageous. I just want to Go. If my financial situation weren’t really, really, really tight, I probably would Just Go without waiting for something new (even if that’s always a bad idea, as Allison always says). But I’m tough, I can hang in there until the sun comes out.

    But yeah, again, thank you guys so much for all the support. I can’t really look at the comments right now because I just know I’m going to weep and I have to hold it together through the workday, but I appreciate knowing I have a support system somewhere out there. It makes it so much easier not to totally lose my mind.

    1. BethRA*

      Oh, friend, please read your own words and rethink the “a lot of pros for all the cons” – if reading comments about the situation is going to make you weep, and you’ve already talked about how this situation is affecting your physical and mental health…

      This is not normal, and it’s not ok.

      I hope you find something soon, you deserve better.

    2. Mustache Cat*

      W O W

      That is all I can say. This is horrifying on every level. He calls you horrible derogatory names and all your boss can say that it’s like her children arguing?

      I had a long comment typed up about this, but I think the site might have eaten it: do not engage with this coworker in any type of debate or argument. I’m thinking particularly of where you mention in your letter that you got into a back-and-forth over being referred to as “woman”. Don’t feel like you have a defend a sane and reasonable request. “Don’t call me that” and “It’s not appropriate for the workplace. Stop that” on loop are your friends. Don’t get drawn in; you can only lose in an argument with an idiot and a bigot, and your boss is apparently so blind, lazy and toxic herself that she can only see the argument happening, and not the genuinely TERRIBLE root of the problem, which is Clerk.

      God. I wish you the best of luck. I hope that place spontaneously combusts.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        And on top of that, the boss blames HER for “making it an issue”! That’s the part that really grinds my gears.

    3. phedre*

      Wow, this is awful! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

      I was going to ask if there is there any way to escalate this? HR isn’t listening, so is there a CEO or Senior VP you can go to? Even if you want to wait until after you leave to make a complaint to avoid retaliation, it might be worth it. But given your update above, now I’m skeptical. I am just completely appalled by your boss.

      Also, as other commenters have mentioned, this is definitely could be legally actionable since gender is a protected class. Keep documenting, talk to an attorney (many will do free consultations), and you can also consider filing a complaint with the EEOC. You should NOT have to put up with this.

    4. EA*

      Dear God.

      Your workplace/boss/HR/company is unconscionably horribly. Please keep in mind most people are not this awful. If you need anything let me know.

    5. hiptobesquare*

      Wishing you the very best of luck! Also, bummer about your car.

      If this is mentioned elsewhere, I apologize, but does no one else notice this behavior? Perhaps a small group of you could speak to someone senior?

      Additionally, I would follow up with HR and any harassment procedure they have in place. Because this is harassment.

      1. Addison*

        Most of the behavior happens in our office, where it’s just the two of us. I always have my door open and Boss is across a short hall from me, but with the way we’re laid out, she can only really hear what I’m saying… which, now, is pretty much nothing. And there’s none of this really when anyone walks in, which is rare.

        1. rory*

          “And there’s none of this really when anyone walks in, which is rare.”

          This bears repeating: He knows what’s he’s doing. He knows how it looks. He’s doing this on purpose. He’s targeting you.

          Sometimes people say horrible things, and they do them even when other people are around, it doesn’t matter who is witnessing it. And then there’s the people who ONLY do it to a certain person/people and NEVER when certain other people are around. They know what they’re doing, even if it’s only subconsciously. This is on purpose.

          He is targeting and abusing you. He is making sure other people aren’t around to hear this. He is doing this on purpose.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            And this is why a journal is so important. Don’t let him know about it. Just keep journaling. More time stamp evidence is more believable. It also shows the negligence of management and HR.

          2. One of the Sarahs*

            Yeah – it’s a common thing that abusers describe themselves as not being able to help themselves, and they have poor impulse control/temper issues, but it’s often notable that the person who tells their spouse that they can’t help reacting to being stressed can hold it in when they’re talking to the bank manager/doctor etc etc – and in a workplace setting, the person who loses their temper and abuses the admin staff can manage not to be an arsehole to the boss etc etc.

            He’s choosing to do this on purpose when no one is around – it’s calculated, and it’s part of trying to gaslight you.

        2. hiptobesquare*

          I would go over your bosses head – I think you’ve exhausted all of your other options. THIS IS NOT OK and it needs to be stopped. He needs to know there are consequences.

        3. catsAreCool*

          Could you ask to be moved? If you were sitting closer to other people and farther from him, it would be harder for him to be mean without other people noticing.

    6. MsCHX*

      Oh gosh your boss is even worse than I thought!!! Squabbling children!? WHAT??! Except we’re adults, at work. Ugh.

    7. AMPG*

      Please do go back to the lawyer about this, and the EEOC. This isn’t your fault and you shouldn’t have to put up with it.

    8. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      At this point I think you do need to consult a lawyer. You also need to look at your employee handbook and see if there is an official process for reporting harassment and bullying. If there is, do it NOW. If there isn’t, call a meeting with your boss and HR – preferably someone higher in HR than last time. Outline everything he has done, say you have brought this up multiple times with no response, and use the words “unaddressed sexual harassment creating a hostile work environment – you are breaking the law by not getting him to stop his harassment of me.” (Provided your lawyer confirms that is the case – but I think she will) After the meeting, email them a recap of everything – when it started, steps you’ve taken, how many times you’ve spoken with your boss and HR, their lack of action, finishing with the meeting where you lay out the EEOC issue. BCC your personal email account – have proof. It sucks pulling out the bug guns, but there is no guarantee you will find something worth moving to soon, and you shouldn’t have to suck it up and not make waves when you are being actively harassed.

      You are legally entitled to a harassment free working environment. Stand up for your rights.

    9. Moonsaults*

      Also his mom works there and he’s dating a coworker?



      There’s no fixing that hell hole, he’s deeply rooted there. Even though he hates it and LOL at anyone with his horrible behavior wanting to be an EMT. Good luck with that, you have to actually have some people skills, bro.

    10. JMegan*

      my boss, supposedly voicing comments from higher-ups, spoke very derogatorily about my mother (she was my +1)

      Good lord. Every new thing you say about that place makes my eyes open wider, and my jaw drop lower, and makes more and more steam come out of my ears. Honestly, it sounds like absolute hell, and I hope the pros you’re getting out of staying are really fantastic to overcome the massive clusterfuck of cons. :(

      1. Purest Green*

        And the fact that she said it’s even worse than what jerkball is doing to her?! There are not enough expletives in the English language to express how upset this makes me.

      2. Artemesia*

        And to be clear OP. Let’s imagine for a moment that you are not a great worker (I am sure you are fine — but let’s imagine); let’s imagine you don’t have terrific people skills (although they sound fine from here, but let’s imagine) NONE of this would be appropriate if you were the worst employee they had (and we know you aren’t because he obviously is) But even if you were not a strong employee NONE of this is on you. Because someone else might have managed to deflect him and you couldn’t doesn’t make you the person responsible.

        Time to escalate this as far up as it goes and to Mommy with specific examples and time to see a lawyer. When you are gone, go to the EEOC (if it happens soon enough to be within the time frame.

    11. BRR*

      I’m really sorry you have to go through this. Remember that this is extremely not normal. I really admire how you’re conducting yourself in a professional manner and hanging in there. I’m not sure if you have any fight left in you but I wonder if one of the following might work:
      -Can you go to your boss or HR and ask “This has been happening. I’ve told him to improve and he’s not. What are the next steps that need to happen to terminate him?” To me, this is you handling it.
      -Can you go to HR and report sexual harassment? Did you share the details of what was said to you to HR? Is there another HR person you can go to? I feel like there’s got to be somebody who will take this seriously.
      -This is a rare circumstance where I might recommend going to your boss’ boss (would love somebody to give their thoughts on that).

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d go to the head of HR if there is someone above who she has dealt with and to the boss’s boss or that boss’s boss with the complaint that ‘This sexual harassment has been going on for months. This is the sort of thing that happens. ABC. Here is whom I have talked to and what I have tried to do — and none of that has changed the behavior. He gets me alone — comes into my office when no one is around or accosts me before a meeting when no one else is around and says these things and dares me to do anything about it. This is continuing sexual harassment; what can be done to make it stop?

        1. BRR*

          Great advice. It’s perfectly possible nobody there understands how problematic this is but I’m putting my faith in humanity that somebody will be appropriately horrified.

    12. vanBOOM*

      “…we had some shenanigans with our holiday party where my boss, supposedly voicing comments from higher-ups, spoke very derogatorily about my mother (she was my +1)…”

      “My boss relates this to her children squabbling with each other. She says I’m only making this an issue because I’m a control freak or because I’m jealous Clerk is dating a coworker I am/was friendly with”

      Dear. fucking. god.

      I am furious for you.

      Your co-worker and your boss are disgusting human beings. HR are cowards. Absolutely *no one* deserves to be treated this way at work, and equating this situation to squabbling siblings reveals so much about your awful boss. I suppose she would be totally fine if you started referring to her as a fat **** woman who nobody can stand because her ugliness is beyond remedy via makeup?

      Talk to the lawyer your grandmother works for, if only to get a +1 on the side of your perspective (the only perspective rooted in sanity and reality here) and to get legal tips on how to safely leave all of this behind you when you are ready. To be honest, though, it sounds like you have nothing to lose if you choose to pursue legal action. Do not let your insulting, gaslighting boss convince you that any of this is normal; there are other opportunities out there with similar pros/perks that do not come with a pro-bullying culture.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d go to the head of HR if there is someone above who she has dealt with and to the boss’s boss or that boss’s boss with the complaint that ‘This sexual harassment has been going on for months. This is the sort of thing that happens. ABC. Here is whom I have talked to and what I have tried to do — and none of that has changed the behavior. He gets me alone — comes into my office when no one is around or accosts me before a meeting when no one else is around and says these things and dares me to do anything about it. This is continuing sexual harassment; what can be done to make it stop?

    13. rory*

      Hey, OP. I know from personal experience that it can be really easy to start rationalizing about this and blaming yourself. The thing is, this guy isn’t just a jerk, he’s an abuser. A higher-up speaking bad about your mother (while she was in the room??!!) is, at the very least, showing vastly terrible judgement, while also harrassing and bullying you. This is not okay, full stop. This is not a good environment. *This is not your fault*.

      I wish you the best of luck in the future job search. I do think you should talk to a lawyer. It might help to take someone with you who is on Team You (maybe your grandma since it sounds like she knows about legal stuff and how things are conducted). Remind yourself often that this is Not Okay, that this job is toxic. It took me a long time to recover from my toxic job. It can still really hurt you for years.

      You say you’re tired… OP, toxic jobs can destroy your physical and mental health. If you can afford to do it, I would say give yourself a gift for the end of 2016 and *quit*. If you can’t quit, take all your off-time when you’re not on a job and focus on things that don’t involve thinking about work. Spend time with friends and family, maybe write down what you’re experiencing in a journal because ranting can help, and keep polishing your resume.

      It can take a while to move on, even after leaving. I wish you all the best.

    14. Tuxedo Cat*

      This story keeps getting worse. I think you should talk to the lawyer- you don’t have to pursue a lawsuit, but you should know your options if you have to stay on longer than expected.

      I would also advise you check in with a therapist. Not because you’re wrong or imagining stuff, but this is an extraordinary amount of stress. It might be good for you to have a space to discuss this. Good luck. I’ve been in abusive work situations, and they are awful.

      1. vanBOOM*

        I, too, would strongly encourage you to see a therapist.

        Reading your words makes me feel sick to my very core, and this isn’t even happening to *me*. I can’t even grasp what you must be feeling right now. None of this is your fault!

    15. Venus Supreme*

      WOW. Wow. Wow.

      From what I’ve read from you, it sounds like this job is affecting you more than you realize- which is totally understandable. You’re in the eye of the hurricane. I’ve worked at ToxicJob where my stress levels were through the roof and people told me to suck it up because I have to “pay my dues” as a young person starting her career. I left after 7 months to work for a different company doing the same thing and I feel more vibrant and more like myself.

      No one, NO ONE, absolutely N O B O D Y deserves to be told that people “can’t fckng stand you,” being called a btch and a c*, and oh my lanta your boss crossed a big fat line speaking so rude about your mom IT’S YOUR MOM FOR CHRISTMAS SAKE oh my goodness I am SEETHING at your boss and coworker HOW are they not ASHAMED of themselves. If I lived in Cali I would find where you work and beat up Clerk for you I am that mad. OP/Addison, you don’t deserve any of this. They’re gaslighting you through the wahoo and you have every right to be this upset and tired for fighting for yourself.

      What settled my mind when I was at ToxicJob was just getting in contact with a lawyer. He was a relative of a friend and just laid out what rights I have as an employee. I never got legal with OldBoss, but it really put my mind at ease. I would speak with your Grandma’s lawyerboss just to see what legal action you can do.

      This company you work for is just a Petri Dish of disgusting, toxic, and embarrassing norms. You deserve better and I’m glad you know this. Keep documenting. Don’t engage with the monsters. Take care of yourself. Find other jobs. I’m so sorry these people are sucking the life out of you, but I know it will be worth it. PLEASE keep us updated!!

      1. rory*

        Yes, I think it can really help to get some outside perspective. Right after I left my toxic job, I was cc’ed on an e-mail from a close family contact to another close contact to see if there were any job openings the other person knew about. The way that contact characterized the situation was very brushed over and pretty quick explanation, but I remember seeing the way he’d put it and being like “what, no, that wasn’t how it happened, that wasn’t why”. Now, years later, I know that how that contact had put it was completely correct. I was so over my head in the toxicity that I couldn’t take the step back and see how this looked to someone not living it.

        Sometimes it can help to ask yourself “if a friend of mine was telling me this story about her job, what would I tell you”. And sometimes it can really help to talk to someone you trust and see what their perspective is.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I see your Petri Dish and raise the statement to toilet bowl.

        OP, this place is soooo bad. Please try to wrap your mind around the idea that the cons here are deal breakers. There are no pros that are strong enough to outweigh daily verbal abuse from your cohort and your boss.

        And these people work in the medical field or adjacent arena? Like where caring about people is key? I am totally disgusted here.

    16. pope suburban*

      A thought: you seem to be thinking that keeping your head down will result in unburned bridges. I would like to submit that there is no such thing as an unburned bridge with these lunatics. They have already demonstrated that they will engage in unprofessional, prejudiced, boneheaded behavior for no reason– and they will then double down on it should anyone point it out. Now, this might not change your calculus about getting a lawyer or filing any formal complaints, and that’s 100% your call. But it might change the way you prioritize your mental health, or when/how you exit the company. They’re already told you they’re not going to be a good reference through their appalling behavior, so you don’t owe them anything. You can leave with no notice (I assume you’re in a right to work state) and do absolutely nothing for two weeks before starting a new job, for example. You can file complaints all day if you find the energy. You can do whatever you want (within reason, obviously, but you don’t seem to be a particularly vengeful person, so I doubt we’re talking about giving in to really evil impulses), because that good outcome is just not gonna happen, solely because of your company’s collective decision to be ghastly.

      1. k*

        Yup. This is one situation where I say it’s okay to burn that bridge. Burn that imaginary bridge to the ground and salt the ground so nothing can ever grow again.

      2. AnonAnalyst*

        Agree with all of this. I would NOT be expecting to get a good reference from these people. Like other toxic people, there is nothing you can do to get their approval. It sucks and it’s unfair, but acknowledging it might make it a little easier to decide what to do to keep your sanity while you still have to work there.

      3. NW Mossy*

        If this bridge is burned, it won’t be by Addison. It’ll be by the numbskulls at her company who doused the bridge in kerosene and then stood around smoking and flinging flaming butts all over the place.

      4. motherofdragons*

        Oh God, yes. OP, the bridge is already on fire, and Coworker and Boss have the f*cking matches.

      5. Mookie*

        All of this. They own the bridge. They’re the trolls underneath and they’ll gladly burn it and everything on it if they think they can drown you by doing so.

        Please don’t believe that by being compliant and quiet this will go away. You need to actively protect yourself as soon as you’re able. Cutting them off is a great start.

    17. k*

      Wow, every time you give us an update it just sounds worse and worse! For all the good advice given here, and how things *should* work in a reasonable office, it really doesn’t seem like there’s any winning this situation. It sounds like a really toxic environment, and for some reason you’re the only sane person that can see it.

      Here’s to you finding a new job and getting the heck out of dodge!

    18. MC*

      Have you tried talking to your boss’ boss? I haven’t kept up with all the ins and outs but my god – I am seething with rage at what you have put up with so far. That you haven’t literally stabbed him in the eye with a fork is impressive.

      Your boss is now taking it out on you because this issue won’t go away and you’re not going to let some shitheel walk all over you? Nope. Nopity nope nope nope. Time to talk to a lawyer. Get the EXACT wording you need to make sure HR knows that this has now become serious and actionable. Make sure they understand that the problem is now your co-worker and your boss. That you are putting them on notice that this behavior must stop immediately – no relapse. No teasing. No innuendo. No passive aggressive nonsense. That being spoken to in the workplace is unacceptable, unprofessional and deserving of HR’s full attention because if public (as in a court of law) it would embarrass the company.

      And yeah – part of me would love for you to have his mom on speakerphone when he speaks to you like that. I suspect she has no idea that her little baby is such a douche.

    19. Blue Moon*

      Your boss talked bad about your Mom????!!!! To her face…. OMG…. I might have gotten arrested that night.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        I know! From the previous letters, I thought the boss was just a pushover but now she sounds like she is as much of a jerk as the rest of them, between the rude comments about OP’s mom and the rude “seriously?” comment when OP told her she was documenting the issues with the coworker.

        I just can’t even with this workplace…

      2. Venus Supreme*

        My mom and I used to work as housekeepers together. There were some young kids (around my age) who were pretty disrespectful to us and one day they said some rude things to my mom. I blacked out with rage and yelled at them. Yell is an understatement. I was beyond livid.

        OP/Addison, your boss clearly crossed a line by not only insulting you, but ALSO your mom. Clerk and BadBoss pushed your boundaries a while back, and now they’re hitting some sensitive spots. I really don’t know how you can be protected legally in regards to them insulting your own family, but I think this situation reinforces the fact that you need to seek some legal help outside of HR…

      3. Addison*

        My mom wasn’t present luckily, the comments were made the Monday after the party. Boss wanted me to text my mom to confirm whether she did or did not do something mentioned, though, and relay to her what she said. My mom said a whole lot of stuff I didn’t dare repeat then, or here now, but when my boss asked “what did she say” I said “To give you the short version, she said she did not, and she’s very taken aback, as am I.”

        Boss said nothing, but later insinuated my mom was lying though, so. You know. Yeah. To say I was angry is the biggest understatement of the century, but I kept it bottled up and just exploded when I got home (so, you know, the same as most days).

        1. Venus Supreme*

          Your boss can go play tag on a highway. This is terrible. I’m glad you’re not stooping to their level and you’re taking to AAM to figure out this mess. We’re here for you.

        2. Kobayashi*

          Sorry to hear that! I never invite my family members to work parties — partly for this reason. I just find it’s a lot easier all around to keep those two areas separate. In fact, I’ve told my family to NEVER INVITE any of my coworkers to any birthday or surprise party for me (they did one year, meaning well). I don’t like to mix work and family because things like this can happen and can get messy. Plus, I don’t need my mom telling my boss or coworkers “funny stories” about my childhood LOL

      4. AMG*

        Unfreaking Believable how shitty your boss is!! You will be so much happier when you leave this ridiculous hellhole.

    20. anonderella*

      you absolutely have this community’s support – actually, your attitude is **blowing my mind**. Please continue to be a rock star, in and out of work. This kind of resilience and determination is incredibly inspirational. When you get some downtime, after you’ve rested and found a Great New Job, you might consider writing/working on a personal blog; as you mentioned brevity being not your strongsuit, you might find blogging a place that allows you to get out those frustrations. Not everyone enjoys brevity!

      keep it up, OP!!

    21. oldbiddy*

      OMFG. That is such a horrible environment. Get out as soon as you can.
      In the interim, would you be able to move to another office to minimize the amount of time you have to be in the same room as this a%$hole? I know management isn’t being helpful at all but if there’s a similar office available they may let you switch if it’s no work for them. I did this once when one of my officemates made me nervous by staring at me all day and making borderline inappropriate comments.

    22. Karanda Baywood*

      My blood pressure is through the roof reading this.

      OP, for the love of all that’s holy, YOU HAVE A CASE and should get a lawyer. Call in sick for a day and go meet with one. Get a nice little payout — even if you leave — because you have a hell of an airtight case.

      No, IANAL but this is clear cut. You are being harassed and NO ONE, not your boss or HR, is helping you.

    23. Triangle Pose*

      Please go to a lawyer trained in employment law and not a lawyer your grandma happens to work for, especially if he works in personal injury (because it sounds like you’re going to him for a car accident).

      Employment lawyers specialize in this kind of stuff and actually know what they are talking about.You wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for your brain injury.

    24. Former Retail Manager*

      After reading that your own boss made rude comments about your mother and you, I have no doubt. These people couldn’t give 2 s***s about you and want you to quit. I have known managers in the past who would deliberately allow negative situations (not on this level, but still not good) to persist because they wanted the victim, for lack of a better word. to quit. Please, please, get out!!! No one deserves to be subjected to this kind of BS on a daily basis.

    25. Lora*

      A…a real live actual person voluntarily spends time with this individual?

      Give me a few minutes here to recover.

      OK. RUN. Get another job elsewhere and run like the wind. This place is trying to kill you. They are trying to grind you down into a horrible quivering wreck of a doormat. They are a bunch of abusive d-bags who can quit wasting the oxygen of other people who more righteously deserve it. This is so far from professional workplace environment that the Hubble telescope can’t see it from there. You will have to make a concerted, active effort between this and your next job to learn how to be a normal collegial person with a modicum of trust again, or it will eff up your next job because the reactions that enable you to get through the week at this place will have so seriously messed up your head.

      I have worked in places like this. It is so bad for your brain, your next job will have a massive adjustment period and you won’t be able to learn half as quickly. You need to get out and get amongst respectful decent humans. Please, please do this, it will do wonders for you. You will look back and think, how did I survive this nonsense? How does anyone? You will kick yourself for having wasted so much time.

      Please know that a million $$/minute isn’t enough for putting up with this crap. Everyone deserves civility. Everyone. This dingbat’s mother should be ashamed of herself. I know I would die of shame if my child behaved like this ANYWHERE in public OR private. My mother would have tanned my hide if I acted even half as terrible. My grandmother would have killed one of her kids and buried them in the garden…

    26. Rhys*

      First off let me join the chorus of “Holy shit these people are terrible and you deserve better” because WOW.

      Judging by what you’ve mentioned here about your boss’s behavior, I think it’s time to start documenting the things she says too. I don’t know the specifics about what happened with your mom but it sounds wildly unprofessional. I’m even more concerned about the “squabbling children” comment which is a false equivalency, and super triple more concerned about her saying she thinks you’re just jealous because he’s dating somebody else at the company. I haven’t studied up on the minutiae of what is and isn’t considered sexual harassment in the workplace but that comment seems like it’s at least tip-toeing along the edge of it. Please include that comment and any similar comments in your log and consider going to your boss’s boss about it. If I were this person’s manager I would want to know what an epically shitty job she’s doing with her own subordinates!

      I know that you feel like it’ll be easier to keep your head down and try to shut it all out, but from your update it sounds like this situation is taking a real toll on your mental health and as wonderful as it can be to hear hundreds of strangers on the internet tell you that you’re right and these people are awful, it can’t compare to having somebody in the real world who believes you, is on your side and can help you fix it. I echo the person above who recommended seeing a therapist. I was in a very toxic job situation a few years ago where I developed actual nervous tics just from being in such a horrible environment and talking to a therapist about it really helped. Of course, quitting helped more, but one step at a time ;)

    27. tink*

      “Children squabbling” would be like him calling you a brat or a butthead and you responding with something similar. NOBODY deserves to face the actually terrible examples of garbage that he’s said to you, and you don’t deserve to have your boss and “higher ups” (!!!!!) saying nasty things about your mother, either. It sounds like your boss is as big of a problem as clerk is, and You Do Not Deserve That.

      Lots of hugs and well wishes that you find something soon that can get you the heck out of there.

    28. Alli525*

      I am so sorry that this is happening to you. I have first-hand knowledge of the physical and emotional toll that a toxic workplace can have.

      HOWEVER. Please listen to everyone who has asked you to take this higher up the food chain. I think you said you’ve only met with your rep. You should make an appointment with the head of HR – if you don’t see cartoon ‘zoom lines’ behind them as they rush off afterward to sort out this very messy mess, then you know the writing’s on the wall. But any HR person worth anything – especially in CA – should be able to see this for what it is, which is a MASSIVE LAWSUIT waiting to happen.

      On a practical level – do you have a partner, or someone you live with that you can trust? You may want to temporarily adjust the amount of chores/everyday stuff that you do outside of work, to allow yourself the time and space you need to relax and prepare for battle. I hope you are taking care of yourself.

      1. Addison*

        I live with roommates, who actually just had a baby prematurely last week! Baby’s not home yet though. Baby is also part of why I’m moving back home with mom (although that was already kind of a thing I wanted to do for financial and etc reasons). We are pretty independent of each other householdwise – great rapport, cool people, friendly and awesome, but they kept to their life and me to mine, so we don’t split anything. And on the slacking on chores in favor of just laying around department I simply cannot be beat – some days I can’t even get up the motivation to scoop the litterbox.

        I’m moving a couple days after xmas though and that will be… hectic but ultimately a good move. Mom is my best pal (and January is when I routinely get a bad bout of the flu so Im looking forward to homemade chicken soup instead of the “will lukewarm tap water suffice” adventures of a 20something living on their own on a blah wage). I’m hoping that peace of mind will help me deal with work stress better too.

        1. Alli525*

          I’m glad you are about to be in a very supportive, loving environment! (Not that your current home isn’t, but you know what I mean.) Hopefully that will be the respite you need to gather your strength for battle :)

    29. motherofdragons*

      Really didn’t think this could get any worse until I read that your boss talked sh*t about you and your mother, presumably in front of you/her/the entire crowd. What. The. F*ck. I am so angry for you, and sad for you and just want to give you a big hug and a warm cup of cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles on top. (I also want to flip some tables over for you, but I’ll stick with the warm fuzzy stuff.)

    30. Julie Noted*

      Addison, this is not your fault and it is not okay for you to be treated like this.

      There are jobs out there with work that you will enjoy and excel at, for companies that will treat you with respect. You deserve them. Your current employer doesn’t deserve you.

      However you decide to move on, I hope that you get the respect and decency that is your right very, very soon. Please take care.

    31. Grits McGee*

      Hey OP, this is a bit late to the party, but I hope my experience will give you some insight- I was in what was (and somewhat still is) the best job I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, I had a major mental health crisis that resulted in some not-great behavior on my part that made me an easy target for harassment from one of the other employees there. I put up with it because I was trying to prove that I was still a good employee, even though the constant grind of dealing with this coworker was so crazy-making that I was actually digging myself into a deeper hole.

      Then, I went out of town for two weeks and it was a revelation. When you’re immersed in a situation it’s like swimming in molasses, and all you can see is black goo that you think you’ll be stuck in forever. Then you get out, and you breathe fresh air and see the rest of the world that isn’t black goo. For the first time in months, I realized that I wasn’t a worthless terrible person, and there people in the world that genuinely wanted the best for me. I lasted about a month after I came back, but when I quit, it was my choice and I did it on my terms, and that made all the difference.

      Right now you are bogged down in molasses. The goop gets a little less sticky, or slightly less opaque, and you think, “I’m making progress” or “I can live with this.” I promise you, once you are out of this situation (and I mean out, not just when jerk clerk isn’t in the office) you will feel like 1000 pounds of weight has been lifted off your shoulder.

    32. Clinical Social Worker*

      Addison, I was at a job where I was bullied. When you get to a job that treats you well, you’ll look back and think “how did I stay that long?” No pros are worth losing your health. You are being harmed daily by this hostile environment.

      And also, they insulted your mother!?

    33. Michelle*

      My God, they talked about your Mom at a holiday party?Hell no. That would be it. I would charge that hill a hundred times and die on it.

      I just want to line up your jerk coworker, your boss, the higher-ups, coworker’s Mom, HR, his girlfriend and run over them with a monster truck.

      How the f are you still able to go to work? I can’t even imagine.

    34. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Right. Look. I had major problems with my mother. She (now dead, I’m middle aged) was very difficult to grow up under due to her terrible mental health problems after an extremely destructive childhood. HOWEVER, if ANYONE ever made fun of her to my face, I would have chosen the nuclear option. That cherry on top of this already hellacious sundae is completely bizarre.

      Best of luck to you, both in getting the new job and surviving this one.

      Everyone reading this is on your side.

    35. SuttonK*


      I am so sorry that you are going through this, but I want to emphasis you taking care of yourself. Nothing that is happening right now is your fault, and you being told that it is is abuse. Having a history of abuse myself, I know how after time, it becomes far easier to just believe what they’re saying than to try and combat it, but know that THEY are wrong. You have done nothing to deserve this behavior, to deserve the names you are being called, to deserve how much and how badly you are being ignored by your boss and HR. I am so glad that you have a support system of your mother and hopefully your roommates and I hope that they are being supportive to you, and telling you that what is happening is wrong if you have talked to them about it.

      If not, and you feel comfortable, I would advise talking to them about it to a level that you feel comfortable. Gather that support, love, and confirmation that you are not in the wrong here because you’re not. Also, please reach out to your local mental health support lines such as crisis support lines, or even calling your doctor if you have one and asking to speak to an advice nurse just for someone medically trained to talk too.

      If you aren’t comfortable doing that, you can talk to me too. We can keep it completely anonymous, I will send you my e-mail, and if you just want someone to lay it all out too and bare it all down, I would be more than happy to do that. I feel for you, and I hope deeply that there will be a resolution to this either that he quits or you find a better job where you are able to thrive.

      But please please please take care of yourself. You are not to blame, you are not in the wrong, and this persons attitude and words are disgusting.

      You have my prayers and good thoughts.

    36. Noobtastic*

      Sue. Sue the Jerk Clerk. Sue your boss. Sue the HR rep who ignored it. Sue the CEO for fostering this sort of company environment where the HR rep, boss, and Jerk Clerk feel comfortable in their behaviors. Sue the Jerk Clerk’s mother for raising him so badly.

      Sue this company off the face of the Earth.

      I’m not a litigious person, but this just makes my blood boil.

      The worst part, to me, was when your boss insulted your mother. At first, I thought it was just a bad boss ignoring Jerk Clerk, because she’s too blind (willfully or not) to see. But THIS?! No. That was beyond the pale, and placed her firmly on my hate list. I disliked her for being a bad boss, but now, she’s squarely in open abuser territory, herself.

      Repeat. Jerk Clerk is an abuser AND boss is an abuser. Not an enabler. An abuser. She abuses you. HR rep is enabling. CEO is enabling. JC’s mother is enabling. JC and boss ARE ABUSERS, and they are abusing YOU!

      Get out if you can, but definitely, absolutely, positively SUE! Not only have they made your workplace unsafe for you, but they are causing genuine and long-term emotional distress, that is following you home, and sapping your strength for daily life. This is killing you!

    1. JMegan*

      Sounds to me like he used the F word in a common meeting room with only himself and the OP present – a meeting which he apparently called for the sole purpose of berating the OP. So basically, it’s even worse than what you thought it was. :/

      1. Addison*

        Yeah it was just me and my boss. We’re pretty laid back here about language- obviously you want to watch what you say when there are clients around but since we’re in the admin office where few clients ever tread, f-bombs aren’t super uncommon or made a big deal out of during casual conversation, meetings, whatever (unless its a Real Dang Serious Time). But even with all that, there is still such a thing as going too far, I think!

        1. No, please*

          And the boss! I just don’t understand these awful people. I’ve had crappy bosses and coworkers that caused me stress. But this is straight up abusive and harassing behavior that is only being reinforced from above. I wouldn’t worry bridges with this joint. I’d tell my new employer I could start ASAP and forward a long letter stating everything you experienced. What kind of reference would you even get from a boss that compares you to a whining child and talks bad about your mother! Wtf?! I’m so sorry Addison

        2. Paloma Pigeon*

          You alluded to missing some joke – it seemed to me that others would need to be there to reference a joke. I guess he’s the joke, but it’s not a funny one.

          I seriously would use that language with your boss – “Um, hey, so X recently told me to my face that no one can F**ing stand me. Just thought you would like to know that’s the level of discourse I have been dealing with on a daily basis. I also want to give you a heads up that it’s beginning to affect my productivity, and I am beginning to question whether I want to stay in the role. Regardless, I will be escalating this to the EEOC since I think it has now veered into the territory of a hostile workplace. I have been consulting an attorney. Thanks and have a great weekend!”

          1. Jessie*

            OP would need to report sexual harassment and hostile environment through her company’s official channels for that before going to EEOC (not just “my coworker is difficult” but “I’m experience sexual harassment and this is a hostile work environment for me,” done in whatever way her company policy says she needs to do). It’s an important step. The law makes you go up the ladder first to get any help from the EEOC or courts.

        3. Coalea*

          To me, being “laid back” about language means that you are okay with profanity in a general sense (“I can’t f***ing wait for the weekend!” or “I have to fill out a sh**load of Teapot Reports before lunch!” but NOT that you are okay with one employee calling another employee a profanity. I can’t begin to imagine a workplace in which a boss would hear something like this and wouldn’t take immediate action. Addison, I’m sorry you are dealing with this horrible workplace. Best of luck to get out of there ASAP!

          1. Clinical Social Worker*

            Yeah I swear like a sailor but this is also my rule. I don’t swear *at* people or namecall.

        4. Emac*

          I have no problem with some swearing among coworkers at work, but there’s a HUGE difference between just swearing and swearing AT someone. Swearing at someone at work is never appropriate, imo.

    2. RVA Cat*

      I almost wonder if this misogynistic creep is testing to see how much he can get away with.

      I really hope that OP’s shared workspace is visible to others because I could see this psycho trying something physical.

  51. Adam V*

    What the hell.

    At this point I’d be going over everyone’s head and take it straight to the CEO, and just show him the list of offenses and say “do you really want someone like [Clerk] working here and treating his coworkers and managers this way?”

    1. Noobtastic*

      And add, “Do you really want some like (boss) working here and treating her coworkers and subordinates this way?” and “Do you really want someone like (ineffectual HR rep) working here and treating her coworkers this way, while opening up your company to a lawsuit, as she was aware of the problem and did nothing to stop it?”

  52. JMegan*

    Oh, wow, OP. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. I just re-read my comment on your first update, and it was basically all bold and exclamation marks and swearing. Unfortunately, that’s really all I’ve got for you now as well. I’m so mad on your behalf! You are being harrassed, systematically and deliberately, and no one at your job has your back. I hope you get another job soon, because you deserve so, so much better than this.

  53. AnonEMoose*

    I’m just going to repeat this, because I think it’s important for someone in a situation like yours to hear it as often as possible:

    1. This is not your fault.
    2. This is not normal workplace behavior.
    3. This is Not Your Fault.
    4. This is not acceptable workplace behavior.
    5. This is NOT your fault.
    6. Your boss sucks.
    7. This is NOT YOUR fault.
    8. Your HR department doesn’t just suck; they are the equivalent of a black hole. They are the equivalent of the teacher who doesn’t want to deal with the bullies, and so tells the victim to “ignore them and they’ll stop.”
    9. This is NOT YOUR FAULT.
    10. Please at least seriously consider talking to a lawyer.
    12. Please do familiarize yourself with the company’s policy/process for making an official complaint about sexual harassment/hostile work environment. And check into the laws in your state. Maybe even ask about local ordinances. Some larger cities also have specific ordinances of their own on this stuff.
    13. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You have done NOTHING wrong. This asshole is bullying you because he knows he can get away with it.
    14. I wish you the very best of luck in getting out of there. I hope you’re able to get out of there quickly enough that it’s like a cartoon – where you go right through the wall/door, leaving only a you-shaped hole in said door/wall behind.
    15. One last time: THIS IS IN NO WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM YOUR FAULT. Your useless boss and your spineless, useless HR department don’t want to deal with this. So they are trying to make the reasonable person (that’s you) deal with the unreasonable asshole (him), so they don’t have be arsed to actually DO THEIR @#$@#^#@#%@%# JOBS. They suck. You do not suck, and you deserve way, WAY better than this.

    1. RVA Cat*

      This, this, 1,000,000% this!!!!!

      Also, since they are in healthcare could there be a regulatory board that would be very interested in this? I can imagine this turning into a Category Five S***storm if he’s like this with a patient….

  54. Moonsaults*

    I have been in that place where others have been able to cripple my self esteem to incredibly damaging proportions. The toxic jobs and all the things your head will do to you throughout the ordeal.

    Keep fighting for yourself, know that you’re worth all the happiness in the world and that you’ll get yourself out of that dump one way or another.

    Reading your comment about having horrible things said to about your mother…holy shhhh. Ef these scumbags, for real.

      1. Noobtastic*

        Also, I want to nominate the boss for worst boss, after The Insulting of The Mother.

        No. Just no. I’m still seeing spots, after imagining if it had been my mother. I just can’t even.

  55. Troutwaxer*

    You sound like a great person and you so do not deserve this! I look forward to another update telling us how you got out and went to another job and the new job was great.

  56. Michelle*

    Huge companies tend to have more than one HR department, locals and a corporate. Do you have a corporate HR person? At my company, our local HR wasn’t handling a bad situation and so the person went to corporate and thankfully the problem was fixed.

    1. Liane*

      This. C-suite HR, or Ethics, may be quite happy to teach your HR, boss, and Jerk-Clerk a lesson.
      That’s what happened with the OP who was getting called “baby mama” and retaliated against. The HR VP got fired by his boss when he was stupid enough to complain about the OP, leading his boss to learn he’d bungled things and set the target up for worse treatment.
      And an HR rep who *placed a fake PIP with forged signatures in my friend’s file* was fired by C-suite Ethics the day after he reported it, Ethics having wasted no time opening an investigation.

  57. seejay*

    Yeah whenever there’s letters asking if something is a hostile or harassing environment 95% of the time it’s not?

    This is a clear cut case of “yes, yes it is”.

    Raging assbutt has made it very clear that he’s targeting the OP based on her gender and HR is doing bupkiss about it while she’s trying to do *everything right*. This breaks my heart.

    Hang in there OP, you have some great people rooting for you. Get a better job and get thee out of there!

  58. Prismatic Professional*

    I am so pissed off for you OP! Just adding to the chorus of This Is Not OK and Not Normal and Not Your Fault and He Is A Horrible Person.

    Also – I’m super impressed with your ability to not go off on him. I’m not sure I could have that much control under the circumstances.

    Jedi hugs if you want them!

  59. Daffodil*

    This workplace needs to be on the worst boss of 2016 list. Just… how. What. I don’t have words.

    OP, I am so sorry this is happening to you. None of this is your fault. There’s a saying that there can be no responsibility without authority – in other words, you can’t hold someone responsible for something if they don’t also have actual choices about how they deal with it. You’ve been told you’re responsible for your coworker’s behavior, but you’ve also been given absolutely zero authority to deal with him. As nasty a piece of shit as your coworker is, I’m a million times more angry with your worthless boss and HR.

    I’ve been in situations where a bad job was impacting my mental health. It is okay if you have zero energy to do anything. Just funnel everything you can towards getting the fuck out of there.

  60. Shazbot*

    I am just so appalled…shocked, disappointed, and appalled at how bad the management is at your company, OP. Wow. I can’t even.

  61. AFRC*

    OP, I am so sorry. This is completely unacceptable. Also, did I miss previously that his mom works there? That is huge, and the HR person asking seems odd – is that the reason why NO ONE ELSE is doing anything? I just cannot even believe that this person is allowed to behave in this way, and you have absolutely no support. Just talking to a lawyer – and letting your employer know that you’ve talked to your lawyer – may help. If your HR person won’t even help you, they probably don’t know much about HR, and would freak out (to your benefit) if they know you’re considering taking legal action. But I hope you get the hell out of there fast, and leave a long Glassdoor review for your company.

  62. Merida May*

    It’s always amazing to me how many companies have a ‘insert fingers in to ears and hum loudly because this totally isn’t happening’ mentality towards very obvious infractions against the most basic codes of conduct. Really goes to show you how much damage a person who doesn’t mind pushing social mores right to the brink can do, especially when supported by people adhering to them even tighter to compensate. OP, please know this is not normal, and your instincts are completely on point for not wanting to put up with this – in spite of mounting pressure for you to yield. It can be so hard to be in a situation where you are the single outlier, so to echo what the other commenters are saying I’m the event you want to pop this post open when things are tough:

    I’m sorry this is happening to you. Your job, specifically the people you work with, are completely bananas. You’ve done an awesome job in sticking up for yourself, be proud of what you have accomplished personally and be gentle with yourself going forward.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I sometimes think that many people are much more likely to act on more subtle bullying behaviour but are completely overwhelmed by direct and frivolous brutality. I’ve witnessed people be in some weird state of permanent shock at the gall of others. Which is obviously NOT like someone in a position of authority should react when they’re confronted with such a situation – that’s why you are a manager, so that you friggin manage!

    1. Artemesia*

      I know that companies often let senior people behave like this; not good but you can sort of understand how the chief rainmaker or the CEO gets away with being a douchebag. But letting this little pissant get away with it — a part time clerk? — sheesh. No excuse at all. (although I have seen incredibly insane un professional behavior be exhibited by a CEO’s wife who also worked there — but while unprofessional and sometimes indirectly abusive of staff (she expected janitorial staff to clean up the pee pads and poop pads for her dog which she brought to the office although it was not actually permitted) she was not directly abusive TO staff.)

  63. misspiggy*

    Can anyone in CA recommend an employment lawyer? If I were the OP, finding someone would be very daunting at this point.

    1. paul*

      Check out the California Employment Lawyers Association and look for members in your area (for OP, if she reads this).

      It’s not foolproof, but its a start.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I second paul’s recommendation—most CELA members are reputable, and CELA’s membership is widespread.

  64. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    This is just completely unacceptable and OP should talk to a lawyer; he or she will see if there can be a good case, but the odds look pretty good from here.

    I’m only in my fourth month of a contract, doing entry level attorney work, but when I had someone making hostile comments (similarly bad, but based on my orientation and without the profanity), work dealt with it so fast it would make your head spin. Granted, they first warned the guy, and secondly moved him and told him not to talk to me, full stop, but then he still proceeded to say anti gay things purposely in my earshot while not technically AT me…that was the last straw.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        AFAIK, they fired him from the contract, and he may or may not have been blacklisted from working on other matters later with this office.

  65. Robbenmel*

    Who raised this feral person?? (Yeah, I know…the mommy who would raise holy h3!! with anybody who messed with her Precious Pup.)

    I think she needs to set her phone to video record and hold it up in front of him every time he speaks to her like that. Every. Time. Then take THAT to HR.

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        Seconding that. I know many people who would have either gone that route or would have started messing with him hardcore by now. If this person is like this at work, I imagine he is similar in his personal life. It stands to reason that he should have a plethora of enemies by now.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Preach. As my jaw continued to drop farther while reading OP’s update, I literally said out loud, “how has this guy not gotten the s*** beaten out of him, yet?” Thankfully my office door was closed; I have no idea how I would have explained that one, otherwise.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        He has gotten the crap beaten out of him and to him it’s proof that he is MORE right.

        Can’t fix the rabies going on here.

  66. Mimmy*

    Ugh OP this sounds like a frustrating situation all around. I can totally see myself getting into this sort of mess, so I completely empathize.

    You are doing the right thing by focusing on getting the heck outta there; a new job would be the best Christmas present I can think of.

    I also agree with everyone else about this potentially rising to the level of sexual harassment–I didn’t even pick up on that at first (d’oh!).

  67. Myrin*

    Unbelievable! I really have to wonder what the hell is wrong with this dude – how can someone be so evil? (Because that’s what this is, if you ask me. This is not some meaner-than-average person trying to sneakily undermine someone, this is straight up open maliciousness.) This place now sounds like a nightmare with people who think they can say whatever they want under the bullshit guise of “honesty” or whatever and who are actively supported by those who could prevent it. I’m really hoping for some case of poetic justice here where you let the hammers of law rain on them but seriously, do what you feel you have to do. We are all on your side here, you are not alone even if it might feel like it, and you are a good and normal person faced with incredibly horrible people.

  68. Matt*

    OP- sad to hear that things continue to deteriorate. If I were in your shoes, I’d also be considering washing my hands of this company and moving on because your manager and HR deptartment clearly arent’s supporting you and Clerk in question seems to be protected as well. Best wishes for next year.

  69. Casey Brennan*

    My son works at same place as me, and if he did anything like this I’d die if embarrassment.

    1. Michelle*

      Same here, Casey Brennan. My son works in a different department and not only would I be horrified, I would drive over to his apartment and adjust his attitude for him. This is so awful. I can’t believe OP is keeping it together.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If this were my kid, *I* would turn him in.

      This has passed beyond the point where mommy may not know. Mommy knows and she is okay with it.

    3. erin*

      Right? At my first post-grad job I was contracted into the same company both of my parents had worked for (my mom still did). It wasn’t deliberate – my company and theirs were doing a joint venture project. But I felt extra pressure to work as hard as I could because it wasn’t just my reputation on the line; it was theirs too. Forget OP; how can this asshole do this to his mom??

  70. notgiven*

    I’ve only read part of the comments but if you are having anxiety and depression over this, get that documented, too.

  71. Stranger than fiction*

    OMG Op this is messed up. I’m not normally a sue happy person, but I think your employer could be in trouble for a number of things. Especially since it sounds like it’s now causing you to ne depressed, in addition to the gender loaded insults from this a-hole.

  72. Rahera*

    All my sympathy, OP, this is outrageous. Best of luck to you finding a new job and I hope next year is so much better for you. This is not your fault, you deserve so much better, and that guy is an inexpressible jerk. All the best. :)

  73. 2horseygirls*

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments (but promise to go back and do so).

    WTeverlovingH is going on over there? Frankly, I would record your conversations with him, then invite his mother to lunch. Play the recordings, and explain that this type of behavior has been thoroughly documented with HR. I would even go a little Brenda Leigh on her and say “Now, everyone around here told me that nothing could be done, because Dufus Nuts is your son, but I said to myself ‘No self-respecting mama in the WORLD would want her child out there disrespecting her and the way she brought him up like this.’ So I just had to invite you to lunch and talk to you myself.”

    My gaslighting manager tried to tell me that I couldn’t record meetings I was tasked with taking minutes for. I blinked, and said, “Here’s a hard copy of the March 2014 Supreme Court ruling on two-party consent in State. It was struck down as unconstitutional.” I don’t think she was expecting that response, but meetings got a whole lot more civilized. ;)

    The worst that will happen is she is just as foul-mouthed and rude as her son. You certainly can’t be fired for inviting a colleague to lunch. And if you are, there’s a conversation I’m sure your state department of employment security would be VERY interested in…

    1. Alli525*

      She has already stated that recording isn’t possible – it is illegal in CA, where she lives. It’s good that you were able to do so, though!

  74. Furious*

    I am SO enraged right now. I want to go to OP’s workplace and punch that jerk’s lights out. How on Earth can the boss and HR just let this go on? OP is being constantly harassed and I would dare say even threatened due to the coworker’s actions. What if he just decided he wants to slap the OP? Is that going to be brushed off, too?

    As far as his mom goes, WTF? I’m an admin assistant and if my son was acting that way to coworker, I would be horrified and you better believe I would be doing some serious attitude adjusting. It’s got to be OP’s company culture because any normal place that jerk would have been fired a long time ago, no matter who his mom is.

    I’m so angry I just want to hit something, hard. OP I wish you all the luck in the world on finding a new job soon. I’m imagining so many horrible things you could do to your coworker right now. I really, really hope you file a compliant as soon as you get out. Nobody should have to put up with this crap and I’m already feeling sorry for the person who has to replace you and deal with the jerk. This is so awful.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think we are all going to march down there and give a piece of our minds to the guy, the boss, mommy and HR. OP, your workplace could get very crowded.

  75. Ashie*

    OH. MY. GOD. I am SO ANGRY for you!!!! This calls for some scorched-earth no-holds-barred get-outta-my way head stomping. No way should you be forced to leave your job over this, YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. Make recordings, go to HR, go to the Big Boss, lawyer the F up, send the videos to the news, whatever you have to do to make some HEADS ROLL. This guy needs to GO.

  76. Chickaletta*

    How is it that someone like this can’t get fired, while someone like me who’s responsible, kind, hard working, and above average intelligence (I’m no genius, but I know I can do some things well) and manages to get laid off twice before the age of 40? Man, stuff like this gets me down.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      The good news is if that walking pusbag ever gets fired (like if mommy leaves), he’ll be unemployable anywhere else. Us? We can bounce back because it won’t take long for someone to see how awesome we are. :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am chuckling. It is good we do not know his name or any other names because I don’t think anyone here would hire these people no matter how much they repented. And OP, there are a real lot of people who read AAM.

    2. Moonsaults*

      Nepotism is a helluva drug.

      Also bad people can flock together, which is why there are toxic AF work places out there that we hear about here.

      Sometimes it’s the luck of the draw and these horrible humans always find a way to land on their feet and keep making someone miserable.

  77. MassMatt*

    This is infuriating on so many levels. Addison/OP–I’m not a psychiatrist, but when you talk about your mental outlook, mood etc. it sounds to me like Depression. You can’t sleep, or eat, you are not doing things you used to do, you are shutting down around others, you say you are tired all the time. Many have advised seeing an emoployment lawyer, which I think is good advice, but I hope you will take time for looking after your (mental) health. Please talk to a doctor, you are suffering!

    I am sorry your financial situation doesn’t allow for you to immediately quit but I hope you take the awful toxic work environment into account when you weigh other potential jobs. Your current environment is dysfunctional and awful, even switching to a “blah” job might be a huge improvement. I hope your situation improves, and that you’ll keep us updated.

    1. Kyrielle*

      And please don’t think it means you are broken. Situational depression is a thing and is caused by a situation, and the one you are in would make it hard for many people! I’m impressed you’re still slogging through, but yes, see a therapist if you can. Whether it’s clinically anything or not, they can be great at helping you deal with what is going on around you as well, which is, to be clear, some remarkably toxic s***.

    2. catsAreCool*

      It sounds like depression to me, too, and one of the really tough things about depression is that it can make you feel like it’s not worth bothering doing anything. It sounds like you are doing a good job of focusing on the essentials, except you probably need to take better care of yourself if you can manage it. Not eating isn’t healthy.

      Here’s hoping the co-worker and boss get the karma that’s due to them.

  78. Katie the Fed*

    Wow. I’m late here, but OP – I think it’s time to dispense with the HR and talking to your boss route, and file an EEOC complaint for a hostile work environment on the basis of gender discrimination.

    1. LCL*

      …and print out this and the previous question (not the comments) and hand them to HR. They both explain the situation really well. An investigation will still have to be done, but it is a place to start.

  79. Norman*

    This is truly egregious. It seems like she has a pretty good sexual harassment/constructive discharge claim and quite possibly a retaliation claim.

  80. Former Retail Manager*

    Holy moly!! I consider myself to be very thick skinned and I have dealt with many difficult individuals in my professional and personal life. That being said…..kudos to you for holding it together as long as you have. I simply could not. Clerk would have caught a stapler to the side of his head by now. It sounds like your plan to channel your energy into finding another position elsewhere is the right plan. Best of luck in all your future endeavors and please don’t let this person color how you feel about yourself, either personally or professionally. You deserve far better than your subpar employer is willing to ensure you receive.

    1. catsAreCool*

      If I were in that situation, I think I’d end up crying at work, in front of everyone (because I tend to cry when I get angry), and I might not be able to stop. You are dealing with this very well, OP.

  81. Morning Glory*

    Good lord this bums me out. Really hoping this isn’t the last update from you! Would love to hear a happy ending (no matter how long it takes).

  82. BadPlanning*

    You know what really pisses me off about this — is that the stuff he says seems so black and white inappropriate. Even if he successfully claimed that he was 100% joking, it would still (well, in my mind) be perfectly reasonable for management say, “You might be joking, but this language is not appropriate for the workplace.”

    It’s not like Clerk is say, “Nice hair” or “I like that sweater” in a sneering creepy voice that you could argue is a compliment when you just see the words.

  83. Chomps*

    Holy Cow. WTF. This is the worst. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I hope you get a new job asap.

  84. paul*

    If one of our clients was treating our staff like this we’d discontinue services, at least if it continued. Seriously can’t believe they’re letting an employee do this crap :(

            1. Noobtastic*

              This made me think of a certain coping mechanism. When the abusers are abusing you, but you’re still feeling trapped, and can’t get out of it, just practice your evil chuckle.

              Randomly chuckle (evilly), and possibly do the thing where you tap your fingertips together in front of your face. Do your best evil villain impression.

              If anyone asks, just mutter, with the only recognizable words being “considering your options,” and “best served cold.” Wait 30 seconds, then chuckle again.

              It probably won’t stop them, but mentally, it will help you feel a lot better, especially if it makes them visibly nervous.

  85. CM*

    I am incredibly impressed by how the OP is handling all this. NOBODY is supporting you, everybody is standing by while you suffer egregious mistreatment, and yet you continue to be firm and professional. There are not many people who can do that.

    Also, as a lawyer, I’ve seen that in cases where one party is being harassed or abused, it’s common for the subject of the harassment or abuse to retaliate. In a he said/she said situation where both people have arguably done something wrong, it can be difficult to separate out whose fault it really is. So if the OP decides to go the lawyer route, her continued professionalism will really help her case. It’s rare that you get such a clear separation between the high road and the low road. And OP, don’t forget to document the things that your boss says and does in addition to what your coworkers says and does. you should be able to show not only what was done to you, but the efforts that you made to inform the company and ask them to help you, and what they did in response.

  86. Courtney*

    Oh, OP…I am so sorry.

    You are making the right decision to get the hell out of there. Best of luck to you.

  87. voluptuousfire*

    Good luck, OP!

    One thing to keep in mind–is there anyone sane in the company that you can use as a reference for future roles? Someone who can vouch for your work (at the very least) in an objective way? I truly hope so.

  88. Jake*

    I’m not really that surprised, sadly. I’ve never witnessed anything this bad, but I’ve seen things that are close in multiple organizations.

    That being said, you need a new job OP. Don’t let this get you down, there are a multitude of employers out there that would fire Clerk on the spot.

  89. Secretary*

    OP, this is awful, and just because you didn’t say anything before does not make this ok. You made your boundaries clear and he has not stopped.
    I know it seems overwhelming, embarrassing or difficult to file a harassment complaint, but PLEASE do it, you do not need to feel shame about it.
    Please PLEASE do it even if it’s not for you, but for the women this guy will work with during the rest of his career. If you say to yourself “someone else can deal with it” please remember that someone else can say that too. You have the opportunity to take a stand for millions of women who have experienced what you are experiencing, please take action.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In theory, I agree — but it’s not the OP’s responsibility to shoulder that burden for other women. If she’s too worn out or has other things to spend her energy on, she should be able to make that call without feeling guilty or that she’s letting womanhood down.

      1. Moonsaults*

        Thank you. So much.

        The OP needs to be thinking of herself right now. What’s most important is that she gets out of there and into a safe environment.

      2. catsAreCool*

        What AAM said. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t file a complaint. Make sure you survive sane and get into a better place.

      3. Noobtastic*

        True. Upthread, I was saying, “SUUUUEEEE!” but truly, OP has the right to conserve her strength as necessary, and do what is best for herself.

        Just because I want her to go nuclear doesn’t mean she has to. She may not have any nuclear in her, and that’s OK.

        In fact, her continued professionalism here is really something I’d like to emulate. She’s pretty amazing in that respect, as far as I’m concerned. She doesn’t need to be WonderWoman, too, and save the world.

  90. Aussie academic*

    OP, I’m truly horrified that you’re going through this and send you best wishes that 2017 is better in every way.

    And I want to add that you’ve got some good advice on this site about lawyers and EEOC complaints, and it sounds like you have every chance of success if you follow that path, and would be doing a service to all future employees of your company and coworkers of that evil person.

    That said, it sounds like this has taken an enormous toll on you, both professionally and personally, and I want to suggest that you do what is right for you right now, to preserve your wellbeing. If you choose not to pursue a legal path, I hope you won’t feel guilty, but instead feel proud for doing whatever you need to do to get through this. Surviving such a crappy situation is no doubt hard enough and you can hold your head up high for doing this.

    (And my apologies if I’m projecting with the “feel guilty” comment, but I’ve felt – in a completely different situation – that I *should* follow up on an egregious situation to ensure the perpetrator didn’t do this to anyone else, but didn’t have it in me to go through the process. It took me a while to realise that it takes a lot of time, money and support to pursue legal recourse and it’s okay to not to. You do you.)

  91. Formica Dinette*

    I just want to voice my support for OP. Should you ever doubt yourself, please remember that you are in the right and Rude Gaslighting Clerk is in the wrong, along with everyone else at your company who is refusing to help you. I hope your current job miraculously improves or you get another job soon.

  92. Stefrrr*

    You should check the unemployment laws in your state. In some cases, you can collect unemployment when you resign with cause – this might be covered. Check with an attorney!

  93. Miss Elaine E*

    To OP:
    I sincerely hope that all the comments on the threads about your problems have shown you that there are people, even complete strangers, who are concerned for you. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Please keep us updated.

    I don’t know if this adds any insight or if it adds to any options you have, but having been through something similar (but nowhere near as horrific), I have to wonder if the clerk has some type of substance abuse/mental health/PTSD issue going on. I had a boss who chose me for as her target. She was untouchable as she was the big boss’ daughter. I was able to get out but sometime later she was finally fired and it ended up in a lawsuit. (I submitted testimony, including an intimidating note she left for me.) Turns out she was involved in some substance abuse (it was years ago, so I don’t quite remember the substance of choice).

  94. zee_marshmallow*

    OP, you are amazing and are clearly doing the best you can. My heart aches for you so much. None of this is right or acceptable in any way.

    I understand the exhaustion, believe me. I understand being drained and barely having enough energy to function. I really, really understand withdrawing from people! So please know all this is coming from a place of empathy and sympathy.

    Please, get out now. His behaviour is very likely to escalate to physical violence if you stay. I’m not trying to scare you; it’s only that I’ve seen this before, so many times with so many women. If you’ve got money concerns, this is the time to ask all your friends for help. They will help you. Just send them these posts. That’s all you’ll need to do.

    There will always be a reason to stay. Abusers always find a way to get into your head and convince you that you can’t leave. But you can. You absolutely can. You don’t need that place – they need you. That’s why they’re doing this. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other women who left and they’re treating you this way because they need you to stay. They need you, you don’t need them.

    This situation will not get better. It will only get worse. However tired you are now, it will only increase. Keep yourself safe. You matter. Your happiness and health matter. You are the only person who matters in this situation.

    As for burning bridges, they were burned the instant the boss and HR refused to help you. They don’t value you the way you deserve to be valued. They won’t lift a finger to help you now and they won’t do it in the future.

    And if you’re worried about getting a reference, hell, half this site will be scrambling to swear up and down that you worked for them for the past four years.

    Please, please, look after yourself. You come first. You will figure the rest out later, but right now, please keep yourself safe. We may be all strangers here, but know that you are cared for by people who live all over the world, and we want you to stay safe.

    1. zee_marshmallow*

      I read your comment above about money being really tight and can see you want to remain professional and stay till the end of the year. So please know that there is absolutely no judgement on what you decide to do.

      Since safety is a concern, I do suggest you show your friends these posts and let them know what’s going on with you. Have people from the outside check in on you during the day, and drop you off or pick you up from work. You need physical support and should not be left to handle this alone. So whether you leave now or later, that is totally your call. But do let the people in your life know what’s going on. I guarantee you that they know something is up and they will want to help.

      Sending you all the sunshine and puppy hugs and kitten bounces in the world.

  95. Reb*

    Hi Addison, a couple of other thoughts to add to everyone else’s outrage, which I completely share. This guy is incredible.

    It sounds like you’re wondering whether it’s ok to go back to HR because things have calmed down somewhat and he’s been less objectionable lately. First, even if he’s only made one appalling comment since you last talked to HR, that’s one too many. Second, if you’ve achieved “peace” only by having no friendly work interaction with anyone and sucking all the joy out of your job, that’s not on either. You can tell HR that you’ve tried to solve the problem by doing that but it’s not sustainable or reasonable.

    Does your work have an EAP? If so, go see them. They’re free and should help with both how to deal with asshat and how to preserve your mental health.

    Good luck!!

    1. Interviewer*

      I agree with Reb about the EAP visit as well. It sounds like this entire situation has you so completely drained, you might not be in the best place mentally to give 100% to a new job. Leave now, but focus on taking care of YOU and get some distance down the road before stepping into another workplace with a renewed spirit and stronger mental energy.

  96. Poster Child*

    OP, chiming in to say this is not your fault, this is harassment that would be shut down in an instant at most organizations, and you have the support of an incredible community here to fight this situation.

  97. DJ*

    Damn. Worst boss for 2016 is really going to be a stiff one. I’m adding OP’s cowardly boss to the list of my contenders, because 75% of this behavior wouldn’t even be tolerated in high school, let alone an office.

  98. Natalie*

    I’m not sure if you’ll read this far down, but just in case:

    My husband was recently in a similar situation with his boss (in his case, workers comp related harassment). He suffered through a lot of the same things it sounds like you are, including situational depression and this intense belief that he could make the harassment stop if he just did this, that, or the other. He’s tough, he can take a lot, but this was destroying him.

    It took a couple of months of talking back and forth and finally him having an emotional breakdown on evening, and finally he realized he needed to quit. He’s never quit a job without something else lined up and it was really hard for him to get to that place, but it was so worth it. He took a few weeks off, fixed a lot of things around the house, and ended up getting a job at a much better run company, with higher pay and no after-hours work to boot.

    So, all this is to say I think you should quit. Today, if at all possible.

    Gather everything you need to prove you quit with good cause, so you can file for unemployment. Don’t freak out if the company contests it, that’s pretty common and you’ll get to state your case. Talk to your mom and explain to her what is happening. She will probably be more than happy to help support you briefly while you find another job. And hell, talk to that lawyer anyway.

    1. zee_marshmallow*

      So glad your husband is happy and well. What an awful situation. People can be so cruel. I’ll never understand it.

      1. Natalie*

        Thank you, he is doing much better. It only took a few days of being out of that environment for him to get back to his old self.

        Some people are just messed up, I guess. Doesn’t make much sense to me either!

        1. zee_marshmallow*

          That’s very good to hear. And I love your avatar! Please tell me you unleashed a container of antibiotics or something similar after your husband left that place.

    2. ArtsNerd*

      Yes, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Addison do whatever you need to do to get outta there and get some support ASAP. Getting out is higher priority than finding another job at this point. Unemployment isn’t much but if it’s enough to make the difference between walking out and staying, WALK OUT. You will have so much more energy and focus once you’re out of the house of bees. So many bees in that office! Getoutgetoutgetout

      It sucks to ask for help but in my experience asking is the worst part. Even if you just ask a close friend to come and spend time with you while you’re a lump on the sofa, I think it will help. This is not okay, you describe a version of yourself that is not okay, and I’m very concerned for your wellbeing here. I’ve been there and I really hope the next we hear from you is on the other side of this. *Hugs*

    3. straws*

      My husband was also in a similar situation. Except he didn’t quit, he was harassed by his coworker to the point that he reacted at the office, and he was fired for doing so. It was ultimately a good thing, because he has a job with people who aren’t lunatics now (lower paying, but worth it). I wish he would have left before it got to that point though, since he can no longer go back to that company (it’s a huge employer, and the issue was with 3 people in a single, small department). My point is, he thought he could stick with it due to the pros, but in the end he burned a bridge anyway because he was pushed so incredibly far.

  99. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*


    First, I have to really give you props for trying to barrel through this. What’s happening at your workplace, and how your boss has been handling it, is so beyond the pale and abnormal and egregious that I need you to know that none of this is your fault. You have done nothing to deserve this treatment, and frankly, even if you had, this your boss and coworker’s conduct would still be unacceptable.

    The most important thing you can do right now is to take care of yourself. Whether that includes seeking counseling or binge-watching old Gilmore Girl episodes, do whatever you need to do (that’s not self-destructive) to feel like you can maintain. The counseling part is actually really important. You’re being subjected to an environment in which someone is being wildly abusive to you AND your boss is gaslighting you to cover it up. I’m in the “counseling is good for everyone, not just people having *problems*” camp, and I really want you to think of this as building up your team of people who are supporting you and invested in your happiness and wellbeing.

    The second thing I want you to do is imagine that you’re surrounded by a forcefield of awesome. Anytime your coworker or special snowflake boss start throwing bulls**t at you like baboons (which frankly is higher than their evolutionary level), just imagine that nonsense hitting your force field and sliding away. This is going to be hard to do, but I need you to remind yourself that you are not wrong, and you are not here to be a receptacle for baboon crap.

    So now the hard part. I know that you’re feeling super drained—that’s totally normal, because being around an abusive person is exhausting. But the tough part is that keeping your head down is not going to make it go away. He’s been escalating, and he’s going to continue to escalate as long as he thinks he can get away with it. I’m not saying this to make you feel hopeless, but to make clear that you need to invest in yourself right now so that you can get to a mental headspace where you’re not exhausted and hollowed out all the time. He is a Dementor, and I want you to work on your Patronus because he’s trying to suck out your soul.

    Finally, I want you to try to run this up the line. First, make sure you have copies of all your documentation backed up on a non-work computer and the same for any emails—print them, or bcc your non-work email. Next, send the email to HR that Alison recommended stating that you’re making an official complaint of sexual harassment. If there’s a legal department, do what Engineer Girl has suggested and cc legal (and bcc your personal address). Then set a deadline for when you need to hear back (in your head), and structure your exit plan around that deadline.

    Finally, think about filing a FEHA (Cal. Dept. of Fair Employment and Housing) or EEOC complaint. You don’t have to pursue a lawsuit (even though I think you’d have a great case) if you decide later that it’s not for you, but filing the complaint keeps your options open, especially if your boss tries to screw you over by firing you. Also, depending on where you are in CA, the DFEH attorneys are excellent and free-ninety-nine.

    Please take care of yourself. We are all rooting for you.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      This is going to sound awful. In a way, the escalation is on your side. It becomes more egregious and more unacceptable to the point where no rational being can ignore it.
      Keep calm, and realize that he’s actually making it easier to prove harassment. Just keep logging. Don’t take the bait. He will keep escalating to the point where he hangs himself.
      This isn’t you. It’s him.

    2. Candi*

      “Counseling is good for everyone.”

      Oh, yes.

      Over the years, my dad (the primary father figure in my kids’ lives) has seen his pastor (licensed therapist in his day job) for stress, depression, so on and so forth. I’ve seen doctors for depression until the cause was found. (Thyroid issues.) My son is struggling with depression.

      My daughter is mentally healthy. But she sees a therapist herself, to keep her that way. (I’m… not the easiest person to talk to. I keep wanting to fix things.)

      See a counselor. It’ll help.

  100. Rebecca*

    I was absolutely furious when I read this update! Mommy’s boy is a world class jerk, and should be fired. The thought of him being an EMT makes my skin crawl. I can see him cracking jokes about an overweight patient, making rude comments, and violating all sorts of professional standards, BECAUSE HE HAS NONE! OMG. I can’t even imagine how miserable this is for you.

    I don’t know if there is some sort of background check, or anything like that for people applying to a program like Emergency Medical Services, but I suspect they wouldn’t want this guy anywhere near their field.

    1. Tuxedo Cat*

      It’s really scary this appalling person will be working in life or death situations. I’d be worried he lacks the professionalism to put his ego and self aside to help someone not die.

    2. catsAreCool*

      Hopefully, he’ll make it obvious what kind of person he is when he starts training as an EMT, and they’ll kick him out.

    3. pope suburban*

      I have ironclad faith that even if he completes the course, he’ll fail the test. Multiple times. He doesn’t learn, after all, and he thinks he’s above such common things as studying and shutting his trap. So there’s that?

  101. Lady Phoenix*

    Read the proceeding comments by Addison/OP.

    Flames, flames on the side of my face. Also, there are not enough birds, tables, decks, whatevers in the world to flip for this atrocity. I am ready to go in a Karkat-style rant, but I’m sure that would lead to the entire website to blush.

    Take all of this bullshit and go talk to a lawyer. Tell your HR that this is sexual harassment AND a hostile workplace, and that actions MUST be taken against the clerk and your boss. Get all your documents in a safe place AWAY from work to prevent sabotauge. Keep an eye out if your POS boss and coworker try to lock you out, delete your files, screw you over, etc. Save as much money as possible and take the Nope BULLET TRAIN out of “FuckThisShitsville”.

    And most importantly, take care of yourself and realize this bullshit aint your fault.

    Screw the lot of them. *drops all the mics*

    PS: Pardon my French. I am well passed the “sticking the fork in” levels of “done” when it comes to that POS, abusive, MANCHILD of a clerk and your incompetant, passive aggressive WITCH of a boss.

    1. 2 Cents*

      I was going to write my own comment, then saw yours. Flames!!! OP, please don’t go into any place (except your office UGH) when he’s the only other person there. So loiter outside the conference room (you’re stretching your legs! grabbing a coffee before the meeting! Pick an excuse!) if he’s the only other person there. And no engaging. Even if he’s looking at you and talking. You’re suddenly deaf. Or not paying attention. He’s an ant — and you can’t hear ants. Even if you have to bite your tongue really hard.

      Brainstorm: It’s not recording if he’s saying stuff and someone else overhears while you’re on the phone. Since he’s a Grade A abuser, I’m sure he’s really careful, but what if he doesn’t realize you’re still on the phone? (Thinking of the cabbies in NY who are on the phone all.the.time.)

      *Also* it’s time to go over your boss’ head. Like one or two or more levels up. Like really high. Until someone who has more than 1 brain cell recognizes the words “This is sexual harassment” (that you are NOT to blame for!), “This is a hostile work environment,” and “I filed a complaint with the state and the EEOC.” The worst that happens is they fire you — but since your physical health is suffering, that might be that best thing that happens.

  102. Mabel*

    OP, you are doing NOTHING WRONG. I don’t care what your “tone” is, this is absolutely assh*le behavior on this guy’s part, and you have done nothing to deserve it. Zero, nothing! I’m so sorry you have to deal with this sorry excuse for a human and your awful boss and everyone else who is being incredibly less than helpful. How many times are you supposed to “wait and see” what happens, for f*ck’s sake?! As you can tell, I am outraged that your company does not seem to care that they have an out of control misogynist who is harassing you daily. And that an alleged human thinks it’s OK to treat someone this way. I’m so sorry that you have had to deal with this bullsh*t, and I am very glad that you have a plan to get out of this place. Best of luck to you!!!

  103. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*


    Get out. As quickly as you can. It’s better to go to another job than to go out with work-related stress due to harassment.

  104. KT*

    This just hurts my soul.

    I want to start a GoFundMe or something so the OP can quit without stressing about money or just get a massage and some good wine or something. Alison–could you see if OP would be a willing recipient?

  105. Kay J*

    Obviously this wouldn’t help, but I don’t think I’ve read a letter where “arrange a good ol’ fashioned ass kicking” sounded like a better solution. What an absurd situation for your company to put you in.

    1. Robbenmel*

      Oooo, I thought of this too! The entire AAM community showing up en masse at OP’s workplace and calling him out, as one. Would love to see the look on his face when we all turn up!

  106. Jersey's Mom*


    Please take care of yourself. Don’t let anyone at work shame you into thinking that any of this is your fault. It’s not. No matter what happened weeks or months ago, when you said Stop it! well, all the bad behavior should have stopped and the people at work should have listened and tried to stop things. No one did. That’s their fault. Don’t let their bad behavior make you feel worse.

    If there is a free clinic, or a school clinic you can use, think about going there and talking to someone to help you feel better. When you go home at night and on the weekends, you shouldn’t feel depressed about work all the time. I had a really bad job once with an awful boss (he made me cry at work, a lot), and that’s how I always felt. Work shouldn’t make you feel that bad at night and on weekends. Maybe there’s a family member or friend you can talk to, who can listen and sympathize. It would help to let it out, and hear a real live person tell you that this is crazy work shit that is not your fault.

    You’re doing the right thing. Look for that better job, and just think of the current job as a way to get some $$ while you’re finding the right job. Wear those headphones all the time.

    Read all the comments. Find the ones that ring true to you and write them down. Have a few scripts in your hand — if Clerk says AA, I’m gonna say BB, and if he say “then CC”, then I’ll say “DD”. Practice saying them out loud. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and say it loud into the mirror and mean it!

    You can do this. You really can. Any time that you feel alone or discouraged, open this page back up and see how many people agree with you! It’s not your fault! And you’ll find a new job! We’re all here keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that you’ll send another followup in a few months to let us know how you’re doing.

    You’ll be ok.

  107. Jessesgirl72*

    OP, what you interpreted as your boss being dismissive of your documenting these incidents might actually have been “Oh crap, she’s documenting it, and if I don’t gaslight her into thinking it’s all her fault, we’re all in trouble!”

    This is not a good job, in any way. If you get a different one, you will very quickly realize that. Wearing you out and convincing you not to fight is how they continue to get away with this very illegal and unethical treatment of you.

  108. 2horseygirls*

    Addison/OP –

    Sending you huge hugs and much love from someone who has been in a similar situation. I was terminated by a gaslighting boss (an executive dean – YAY higher ed) last year, after a miserable 16 months. I was about 4 days away from checking into a mental health ward when Dean told me that she was requesting my termination (and I still had to wait 5 days to actually get fired – those were fun). I went to bed for about a week after I was let go.

    It truly messes with you, because like someone mentioned above, it doesn’t make sense because no matter what hoops you jump through, it doesn’t satisfy the Dementor, and there’s NO LOGIC to it. If you are like me, you are spending hours, days, weeks trying to make it fit into logic somehow – it never will, sweetie. Part of my PIP was 3 weeks to implement an automated process that would have taken a qualified programmer a few months to complete. To this day, 14 months later, not only has it not been implemented, it was never mentioned again after I was terminated. It was a guaranteed way to get rid of me.

    The problem is them NOT YOU. Dufus Nuts has decided you are his target. It is HIS issue, HIS decision, and it has NOTHING to do with you.

    I had breakfast with a former co-worker this past weekend; the stories she was telling me about how the entire institution has devolved into a “Lord of the Flies” mentality, exacerbated by the poor understanding and poorer implementation (even though a Texas judge put it on hold) of the new “overtime law” reclassification of over 100 positions, including many directors and managers who clearly meet both criteria for remaining salaried. (HR is just a flaming hot mess.) Suffice it to say, I offered Co-Worker one of my dressage whips to defend herself, but she declined. ;)

    YOU are an excellent person. ***THIS*** (waving arms around) c-f*ck has NOTHING to do with you, your work performance, or your abilities. It is ALL about someone who is attacking out of shame and fear. Perhaps Dufus Nuts is perfectly aware that his mother did not hug him enough as a child, and that he does not actually possess any useful skills in this kind of workplace environment, and he is lashing out. It doesn’t make it right in ANY way, shape, or form, but the sooner you realize it has nothing to do with you, the better you will feel.

    “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin deBecker, talks about recognizing your “gut” instinct when it is screaming at you. It is periodically free on Amazon Kindle. I highly recommend reading it – God forbid (as someone mentioned upthread) Dufus does escalate, this book will give you some of the warning signs to look for, so you are better prepared.

  109. Rachel B*

    This is so utterly sad and depressing that I don’t have anything helpful to add. Can you take a vacation to decompress and evaluate next steps?

    1. Addison*

      Fortunately I have from Dec 23 to Jan 3 off! Some holiday days off, and I took the last week of December (I do that pretty much every year; I don’t go on many vacations so I figure I at least don’t deserve to have my workplace inflicted on me during *Christmas* of all times). I’ll be moving in w/ my mom during that week vacation but honestly at this point I think the physical labor will do me some good. I……. can’t even express how anxious I am for that time to get here.

  110. Pinyata*

    Re: Signs of depression – not sure you’ll get this far down the page, OP, but I know firsthand how hard it is to actually do the things you know you need to do when you’re depressed. All these steps that commenters are spelling out for you (talk to EEOC, document, talk to a lawyer) can seem insurmountable when all you want to do is hide under the covers, even if you know how important they are to get done. Is there someone you can ask for help to get these things done, if you feel that you might be at the point where it’s all too overwhelming to even start? If someone can be with you to make a list of the steps, help you draft letters, just check in with you to see if you checked step 1 out of 20 off the list, you might have an easier time taking these steps.

    Of course, if you’re in ass-kicking get-stuff-done mode, GO FORTH AND KICK ASS! Just wanted to throw my two cents in there in case you were in hide-under-the-covers mode and feeling overwhelmed. You can do this. You can do all the things you need to do, and all of us are behind you as you do them. If you decide you just need to get out, and decide not to report the behavior, that is okay too. Someone can help you take those steps too. (But wouldn’t it feel SO good to see those utter pieces of shit get their comeuppance in the end?)

    1. not really a lurker anymore*

      Just to add on, my therapist used a “well of happiness that can run dry” metaphor with me. Basically, we have to do things we enjoy to refill the well to keep it from running dry. But once it’s dry, it’s gonna take time to refill/prime the well again. Do something small that makes you happy to start refilling it. My first small thing was to sit in the car and listen to a favorite song all the way through, all by myself – my home life wasn’t a cakewalk at that point and alone time was precious. Anyway, buy yourself grocery store flowers if that makes you smile or indulge in an expensive cup of coffee or tea or something at a place you like but don’t usually stop at. Small things to start. I was alos put on a very tiny dose of Zoloft at that point, which also helped.

  111. MissDisplaced*

    OP you are a much better person than me. If someone had said this things to me, I think I would’ve gone apeshit crazy and slugged him a good one, mommy or not.
    Some bullies just don’t get it otherwise.

  112. Chaordic One*

    I certainly hope that the OP finds another job right away.

    Like the OP I’ve fantasized about giving my boss notice during my performance review, although usually because I felt underpaid and underappreciated. Of course, it usually never works out that way, but I do wonder if it is a good idea. At the very least, it should get the attention of your supervisor and the HR department and it sounds like they could sure use a shock to their system.

  113. emma2*

    I just read this and the original post, and WTH????

    My impression from the original post: I feel that this guy deliberately started around joking with the OP before verbally abusing her because he knew the change would confuse her and that she would partly blame his abuse on herself for previously partaking in the joking. I’m sure he did this knowing that the OP is a nice person who prefers to err on the side of people pleasing, because that is how most nice people are. Not that I’m a mind reader or anything. This guy is straight up verbally abusive, sexist, and a potential sociopath. The fact that your higher ups excuse all of this makes this whole business seem like it is steeped in sexist frat culture (even if your boss is female – I can’t remember.) I’m with the other commenters that this can qualify as sexual harassment, and you can complain accordingly.

  114. Not So NewReader*

    I wondered if he was going to escalate and here we see…..

    I have to share with you, OP, because I grew up in an odd setting so I did not know this: My wise friend said, “We either shut down bad behavior OR we need to move away from it.”

    Hopefully there will never be a next time, OP, but you could encounter tamer situations. Either the BS stops by you speaking up for yourself OR you leave. I had never thought of it as being so clear cut before– binary, go/no go, on/off– and no one ever told me.

    We tell ourselves all sorts of lies:
    “It’s not that bad.” If you have to tell yourself that it’s not that bad, then it IS THAT bad.

    “I should be able to do this.” Well, you should be able to scale a 200 foot rock ledge also. That doesn’t mean you have to and probably you have not made yourself do it either.

    “But there’s things I like here!” Where? When? There will be other jobs with aspects that you like and you won’t have to be spoken to in this manner. And you won’t have to spend your off hours wondering if you need an ambulance because you feel so crappy.

    “But I may not find another job.” This is the purest of lies. Totally untrue. You will find something and it will be better.

    “But I need a reference.” When the worst employer in the world give you a reference all you have is… a reference from the worst employer in the world. It’s of value to almost no one because they know the employer is a jerk.

    Use your time at your mom’s to reset how you look at things. Get some boundaries books and read them. It’s a nice read, gets the reader thinking.

    As an aside, I read through this post here and it sent me back to memories of parochial grammar school. Not since grammar school have I heard of such a steady stream of abuse. It took me a while to understand that walking on eggshells should not be a way of life. Your workplace has some serious, serious issues.

  115. Narise*

    Run don’t walk to a lawyer with your documentation of everything especially the health issues. If it hadn’t gone on for so long I’d start speaking to your boss the same way and when she objects ask her why you have to put up with it from JR.

  116. Milla*

    My completely passive-aggressive, super bad-for-you advice that suits my dramatic sensibilities:
    Next time you talk to your boss in private, start calling her the things he’s said. She will get so offended. No matter what she says, just say another one of his insults. When she has reached the boiling point, pull out your documentation and hand it to her. On it will be every insult you just said to her, listed in order and highlighted, and when and where he said it to you. Then ask why it’s ok for him to say such things to you every single day, when she couldn’t take it for 5 minutes..
    Other dramatic fantasies:
    Record the abuse. Email the clip to the Great Grand Bosses of HR, Legal, and your boss’s boss’s boss with the title “Official Complaint of Sexual Harassment” and throw your boss and the HR person you’ve been dealing with under the bus by asking why your complaint has not been handled after months of reporting. Request actions be taken by ___ date or an EEOC complaint will be filed and your lawyer will contact them.
    Or cc every single person in the entire company in a Send All containing the recorded abuse and the title “HR ignores sexual harassment claim” Or lure him into the office with the announcement speaker and secretly turn it on so everyone in the entire company hears. (do NOT do these last two, it would turn out SO BAD for you since we don’t live in a movie)

    1. zee_marshmallow*

      Oooh, I like that first one! That’s clever.

      My vote is to record the abuse and send it to all the people you listed. At the same time, show his mother, asking her if this is how she raised her son.

    2. Candi*

      Dammit. That beats my idea of rounding up a copy of Sims 2 or 3, looking up the cheats on Sims wikia, and accumulating Clerk/boss/HR rep tombstones and urns.

      1. Noobtastic*

        Cheats? Don’t cheat. Build the sims in Body Shop, and create as many versions of them as you desire, and then move them into your household so that you can set it up and gleefully watch each, individual, gruesome, agonizing, lingering, painful death.

        Starvation is particularly satisfying. Or you could set up a “wonder which it will be” situation. In Sims 2 (where death by flies is a glorious thing!), put your sim out in the cold (use the weather controller to set it to winter and/or snow all the time), under an awning, with a fence around it. Put empty plates in every square (but no rotten food on the plates, just empty), and let him stand there, in the cold, starving, while being surrounded by dirty plates, attracting flies. It’s really a toss up how he’ll die. He could freeze, starve, die by flies, or even die by abject failure, if three or more of his need bars plummet, and with no toilet, bathing facilities, bed, or means of boosting his social or fun score, that’s a thing, too.

        And then the next person to face the challenge will have the additional danger of being haunted to death.

        OH! And put in a fireplace, so maybe he’ll burn. And a very small pool, so maybe he’ll drown. Go ahead and give him a ladder, for a sporting chance, because you want the mystery of how he’ll die, and taking out the ladder makes drowning a sure thing. The only sure thing here is that he WILL die.

        See if you can collect all the different colored ghosts! It’s fun!

        Even more fun in Sims 3, when there are about 20 different ways to die. BTW, if you move-in an alien, they can summon a meteor, so there’s that way of killing off your sim. The Mummy’s Curse death would be much more problematic, I suppose, and it takes a good ten days, but you know, if you enjoy tomb-raiding, he’s the one to do it. Just make sure his Athletic skill is really low, so he loses all his fights with the mummies.

        Dang! Now I really want to go play Sims.

        1. Noobtastic*

          I once read a Sims story (Sims 2), where the author and her friends actually got together, and planned various deaths for a hated individual, and forced him to undergo them ALL. With the “bone phone,” from University, and a lot of cash, they kept raising him from the dead, so they could kill him again.

          Talk about cathartic.

          They even had some sort of swimming-with-sharks mod, just for the occasion.

  117. Addison*

    OP again! Just wanted to drop a quick thank you again. I read all the comments, I tried to be more reply-y this time around. I had to wait until I got home and had my standard Nice Long Nap before I could really give them all a read ’cause sure enough I was awash with the weeps before I got to the bottom. Good weeps though. It’s really nice hearing I have support and people who have experienced similar things that got through it, have great suggestions, and are just plain mad like I mad. I don’t see a lot of that all that often (phenomenal cosmic workplace BS… itty bitty IRL support circle), so it’s very heartening. Thank you all so much!

    1. Resident Martian*

      Hang in there, you got this! I know what it’s like to try to function inside extreme dysfunction while being told that YOU are the abnormal one, and it just becomes this crushing weight of self-doubt as you are effectively gas-lit by an entire workplace culture that denies their bad behavior. It only makes it harder if you don’t have a giant support group outside of work listening to your stories and telling you at the end of every one, “That place is screwed up. Seriously. That’s crazy sauce.” Believe in yourself, remind yourself every day that this really is a THEM problem, and please seriously consider legal representation because they are just begging for a lawsuit here.

    2. zee_marshmallow*

      phenomenal cosmic workplace BS… itty bitty IRL support circle

      A+ reference. You sound like a super-awesome sweetheart.

      Thank you for keeping us updated. If you don’t have many people around you who can help you out, perhaps you can ask people here if they’d be able to assist. For example: compiling a report, contacting a lawyer, calling you during the day so your office knows you’re not isolated and have people looking out for you. (I’d be more than happy to help, but I live on a different continent.)

      Dont’worry about replying to all the comments, by the way. Conserve your energy. Little updates like the one you’ve given here are perfect.

      If you haven’t already, back up and make copies of the journal. Email it to your peronal address (if you can’t log in to your personal email from work). If you’ve done this, that’s wonderful and I am smiling.

      Finally, just want to reiterate that none of this is your fault at all. You are dealing with evil, abusive people and are doing your absolute best.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        And if you can log in to your personal email from work, don’t leave it logged in on your work computer. Log in and out every time, and change the password frequently. If you have a gmail account, Google drive is another option to use for backing up your log. If you have gmail, you have a Google drive available, and you can access it from any computer with an internet connection.

    3. MommaCat*

      Internet hugs, this is an incredibly sucky situation to be in. After reading the comments, I know you’re in a state where you need two-party consent to record; would it be possible for you to set a recorder (or phone or whatever) on your desk the next time he comes to your office and announce (after you start recording) that you’re recording this conversation and that you will assume that his staying in your office equals his consent to being recorded? If you share an office, that obviously wouldn’t work. I’m also not a lawyer, so maybe someone from the commentariat would have a better idea of the legality of my idea.

    4. Mustache Cat*

      Come to our free-for-all comment thread this Friday and just let us know what’s happening! We’re here for you. No reason why a support circle HAS to be irl. I’ll be looking for your comments!

      1. Candi*

        My most awesome support circle is all online. There’s really nothing to take the place of hugs, but an ear to hear and a heart to care can be found at any distance. As can helping hands.

    5. Mimmy*

      That’s one positive thing about the Internet – a far-reaching circle of support. Cyberhugs coming your way!!

    6. Noobtastic*

      I just want to give you a great big hug.

      However, I an currently germy, and I will refrain from spreading my germs to you.

      Oh, wait. This is the internet, and you can’t catch my virus over it. HUGS!

  118. He who walks behind the rows*

    What the hell is wrong with this company!? This guy should have been fired long ago. Your boss should be fired for doing nothing, and HR should be fired for not doing their job.

    I’m shocked. I have tons of complains about my workplace, but I can tell you one thing: if something like this happened here, that guy will get fired.

  119. Lori*

    How about the next time he makes one of his assinine comments, you ask him, LOUDLY, if he realizes how immature and unprofessional he sounds.

    And why wait until you have a new job lined up to say the magic words: EEOC and sexual harassment to HR? Comments on your face, your weight???? You shouldn’t have to listen to his bullshit for one more second of one more day. Doing so would also protect you from retaliation from him and “his” mommy! The company may love her but not enough to get sued.

    Best of luck!

    1. Lady Phoenix*

      Only problem, Lori, is that the OP HAS stated what the clerk said is not ok. The Clerk doesn’t care because he can’t get fired or punished. The only thing Clerk cares about is his own entertainment, and the OP’s misery.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Actually, say that he’s mean. Say, “that’s a really mean thing to say.” or “that was pretty vicious–are you really that mean?”

      Because “immature” and “unprofessional” are the kinds of attacks that just make people defensive.

      But “mean” is really hard to defend against.

  120. Schmooples and the Binkie-Boo*

    I am so so sorry you are going through this. It is not your fault or your responsibility – and ‘just worrying about you’ sure as heck includes worrying about being bullied and harassed.

    Please know this is not your fault.

  121. Steph*

    I’m really sorry this is happening to you. I’ve been in a similar situation where I asked my manager a straightforward question about a colleague’s role and my colleague thought I’d “gone behind her back”. This made me a target for her bullying – subtle, soul-destroying behaviors similar to what you’re describing. Being told to ignore it, that it’s just her personality, and that she’s done this before to other people doesn’t help!

    It was clear that my boss wasn’t willing to fix it, so I decided to leave. It took me a year to get a new job. It was only later that I got how badly I’d been treated by my employers. This wasn’t a “personality clash” or “just who she is” – it’s completely unacceptable behavior that’s not being managed by the boss. Imagine if one of your friends told you about this happening at her workplace: you’d be horrified that the management wasn’t tackling the problem.

    The plus is that now all my jobs seem much more pleasant as I have this terrible workplace to compare them to!

    1. zee_marshmallow*

      Oh my God, that sounds horrifying. I know exactly the kind of person you’re talking about. There is NO reasoning with them because they are so determined to take everything the wrong way. They’re not happy unless they’re destroying someone. As for the enablers like that manager, I consider them as bad as the abusers. ‘That’s just her personality’ is not an excuse. Well, it’s just your personality that you don’t like abusive behaviour, why isn’t that taken as seriously?

      So, so glad that you’re out of there and you’re happy and well!

  122. Hannah*

    I hate this!!! The kind of person that this guy is comes across so clearly in all the OPs letters and I hate this person! I was so hopeful for a good update. OP please update when you get a new job.

  123. Hank*

    The real crime here would be NOT playing hardball with HR and filing a sexual harassment and hostile workplace complain with EEOC. File it, follow up, and claim damages. I mean, seriously, complaints filed of this specific a nature with documentation and HR’s position is to “just suck it up?”

    If OP doesn’t file the complaint, the company wins.

    I’d even consider involving local news media.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      This isn’t about ‘winning’, it’s about the OP doing what’s in her best interests.

      That may or may not involve legal action, may or may not be calling wider attention via the media. But if you’ve never been through anything like this… it can be EXTREMELY hard to get basic life survival tasks done, let alone waging a war on top of it. Righteous anger only takes you so far when you’re running on fumes. Not to mention the fact that following up on the claims, etc. keeps this whole experience in your brain, emotions and life when you may have the opportunity to just walk away and start moving on.

      It’s no crime to take care of yourself. For many people who have been abused and victimize, that means laying a bit low and focusing on recovery. Not justice. It’s not particularly satisfying, but it’s real.

      That’s not everyone though. I’m 100% behind her if she’d like to wage that war. I’m ready to go to battle against these fuckwits alongside her.

      1. Noobtastic*

        “Righteous anger only takes you so far when you’re running on fumes. ”

        This. This right here.

        OP, if you CAN, then by all means do. But if you can’t, do NOT feel guilty. Just do what you can to take care of yourself now. Even if you can’t do anything but leave, its OK.

        And you know what? Someday, you’ll be in a position to be the stand-up person to help someone else, and you’ll know the truth of the problem, and the need for help, and you’ll know how to help, and THEN, you’ll have the strength to help.

        If you can just survive this, now, then someday, you’ll look back on it, and say, “This is what gives me strength to fight the good fight now.”

        After all, the best managers are the ones who remember what it was like to be a subordinate.

  124. ADing*

    OP–remember you can quit AND go to the EEOC. There is a time limit to report things and make them actionable (generally 45 days from the *most recent* incident). Lawyers and HR pros–correct me if I’m wrong! That said, you are being chased from your workplace by this behavior. In my mind, that’s a pretty good argument for alleging that harassment on a protected basis is costing you financially. You can both free yourself and pursue justice for yourself. Don’t think they are mutually exclusive!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      The time limit for filing a “discrete incidents” EEOC complaint is 180 days from the last incident of discrimination (“incident” includes any adverse employment action), and the deadline for a hostile work environment claim is 300 days from the last incident. Addison can file under either or both theories.

      The deadline for filing a complaint with the Cal. Department of Fair Employment & Housing is one year from the last incident (Cal. Gov’t Code §12960).

  125. jenny*

    This is sexual harassment. Call a meeting with HR and use those words and show them the sheet. Cite a hostile work environment. If changes are not met, consult a lawyer. Tell them as much. Say, “This is sexual harassment. If changes are not made, I will be left with no choice but to consult a lawyer”

    Seriously. It sound drastic, but this is your livelihood and you shouldn’t be subjected to abuse when you’re just trying to survive.

    PS Good for you for keeping a record of harassment! Best of luck.

  126. Understand What Leadership Really Means*

    I think you understand this in a broad context. Your employers have conveyed that they do not intend to hold the dude accountable for his egregious behavior. He is being protected from the consequences of bad behavior. Unfortunately I speak from experience. I once worked for a director who screamed, called names, attacked verbally in a very personal way, and threw things. I left the position, and was the fourth person in five years to do so. Separation helps a lot with clarity of understanding these situations.

    1. Understand What Leadership Really Means*

      That should have been ‘I think you NEED TO understand this in a broad context’.
      Sorry, I think faster than I type.
      I am sorry you are going through this. Hearing about such incidents brings back the bad feelings. I’m sure you will survive this!

  127. Just changed jobs*

    Your boss is dropping the ball here, unless something is happening behind the scenes? Regardless, I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

  128. Lady Phoenix*

    OP/Addison, I highly recommend checking out Captain Awkward’s website too! She and her fans have lots of good advice when it comes to dealing with “Darth Vaders”/”Jaspers”/Toxic People. Being in this environment is going to hurt you, and already has, because it changes your perception of “right” and “wrong.” It makes you more vulnerable to abuse because it is “Just is” or “normal”, when it shouldn’t.

    As Allison has stated, this view can hurt you when you change jobs.

    So remember the following:
    2) What this company is doing is NOT OK
    3) Clerk is not a good person, and neither is your boss
    4) You have every right to take care of YOU

  129. 2 Cents*

    OP, I cannot say how sorry I am that you’re going through this. This is intolerable! (And, no, you’re not crazy.)

    Others may disagree on this board, but I’d start keeping my cell phone on “record” mode (or get a cheap digital recorder) so you can document this disgusting behavior with full sound. (And if you’re in NY and a handful of other states, only *one* party needs to know about the recording — i.e. you.)

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      There’s some discussion of recording up thread—Addison/OP is in California, a two-party consent state where unlawful recording can incur criminal liability and serve as a basis for termination, so most of the Cal folks have recommended against recording.

  130. Marisol*

    Here’s an idea. Lots of people have made the good recommendation that you try to record Clerk’s behavior, noting that consent may be an issue depending on the state you live in. What if you keep your phone with you at all times, and when he starts harassing you, you pick the phone up and tell him, “Clerk, I am recording you on audio and video. Would you repeat what you just said please?” and he may double down and actually repeat himself in a macho display to show that he’s not intimidated, which would give you some good documentation. Or, he may actually back down, which would give you some emotional leverage.

    There is also chance that his behavior will worsen once you aren’t filming him, but given that things are already pure hell, I’m not sure I’d worry about that.

    I am brainstorming ways you could address consent to be recorded…since this is such an extreme case, I’d say it’s appropriate to take extreme action. Perhaps you could email him something to the effect of, “by interacting with me, you agree to be recorded on audio and video” and then just keep your phone recording at all times? Or post something to that effect in your cubicle? I realize this is totally outside the norm of office decorum and wouldn’t be appropriate in any other contexts of course. But it’s something I would consider if I were in your shoes.

    1. Marisol*

      Also, on a juvenile note, check out poopsenders.com. I haven’t used this, um, service, but have fantasized about doing so. Your situation warrants it I think.

        1. FormerLibrarian*

          Or glitter. A friend once had heavy glitter eye shadow for his role as Mephistopheles in the university’s annual opera. After the last performance he did a thorough make-up removal and took a shower. He then helped break down the set (heavy, sweaty work), went with the rest of the cast and crew to the all night diner, and then a bunch of them went hot-tubbing for the rest of the night. He went home, slept, got up, showered, and discovered he was still covered in glitter.

          There’s “Sendyourenemiesglitter.com” and “ruindays.com” sounds interesting too, as they have an option for a spring loaded glitter bomb.

          For excrement, there’s “shitexpress.com” which will send lovely slovakian horse poop for the mere pittance of $16.95 paypal or bitcoin. Someone, not me, sent someone else whom I absolutely loath, about on a par with a$$hat clerk, a tub of this. The melt down was glorious though I did have to forward two emails to the FBI.

          And even if you would never, ever do something like that, it’s fun to imagine it.

    2. Christine*

      You can record at your PC without people being aware of it unless they go looking for it. Just place the recording icon in the ribbon at the bottom of your screen. Keep working away, click record, keep working, etc. If he’s behind you, he might see it pop up. I did that when I worked with a crazy woman.

  131. boop the first*

    Yeah, finding a new job wouldn’t be NEAR enough to fix this, for me. Having him fired wouldn’t be enough for me. This has become representative of the entire company, now. This guy is now the face of the company, through their support of him. I would even go so far as public whistleblowing at this point, reputation be damned.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      My fantasy would be for OP to keep a diary on FB so her one THOUSAND FB friends could watch this unfold and pass it to others.

      Don’t do this OP, it’s just a fantasy or a mental vacation and not a real solution.

  132. Christine*

    Had a thought about something when making a comment to one of today’s postings. Should have suggested that she look at his social networking. If he’s publishing his filth and makes public who his employer is, it’s a good chance that PR / HR might be willing to do something.

    Might be more apt to do something if it’s being spooled out there for everyone one to see, and can reflect on the business versus the foul mouth being directed at one particular individual. He’s a bully and a horses butt.

  133. JustTeaForMeThanks*

    You deserve better. This is not your fault. I hope you find a new job very soon! I am just lost for words about your colleague’s behaviour.
    Please take good care of yourself!

  134. voyager1*

    Just get an attorney OP. Tell the HR dept that Clerk is gone or you sue since this is so far into the harassment spectrum. If they fire you sue them anyway.

  135. Milton Waddams*

    Does your work provide healthcare? This is starting to sound like it might be a mental illness issue more than a personality clash — maybe if you said something like, “Your behavior has been really erratic lately — I’d like you to see a doctor for an assessment to make sure everything is OK.”

      1. Milton Waddams*

        People will bend over backwards sometimes to make it into a moral issue before considering what to me seems like the most obvious answer to check before going any further; I wonder why that is? It’s like people desperately want there to be villains in this world rather than a jumbled mess of broken people. :-)

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Except having a mental illness does not justify, excuse, or explain this guy’s behavior. This is pretty textbook verbal abuse, and it’s following standard patterns seen in other abuse contexts. Whether coworker suffers from ongoing trauma or other mental health challenges that inform his behavior is really his issue, not OP’s issue. And given how he’s behaved thus far, I am loathe to advise OP to even suggest to him that he needs help b/c it will be taken pejoratively, which could cause him to escalate faster. Figuring out if he has a mental health problem doesn’t really address his abhorrent conduct or help OP, who is in shutdown/crisis mode.

          I understand the desire for compassion/understanding, but it’s also important to understand the border between compassion and personal boundaries/safety. OP has been very compassionate—perhaps overly so—and is being gaslighted by her supervisor. Because of those characteristics and the pattern identified in her prior letters, folks are pushing back because the situation is well past the rational, conflict resolution stage.

  136. OldAdmin*

    Holy Moley!

    This is exactly what I had to deal with for years in my workplace!
    A non-boss, but higher up on the food chain colleague I was forced to work with almost daily loved to harass me, call a me a whore, stupid, useless. He would snort or roll eyes when I spoke at meetings, talk down to me, the whole nine yards.
    The culture is so shot here that reporting him had no result, just evasions like “I get along well with him”, “I didn’t hear that”, “that’s just joking”, “boys will be boys”. He’s a bit of a golden boy, so my suffering did not count.

    After several years of this, I changed departments (I had to threaten with leaving), and now can work in peace.
    I also notified my bosses I would leave immediately if I had to work for Golden Boy again. That resulted in a raise for me, and no further action. However, GB has been harassing others,and I noticed he did not rise a bit during the latest major reorganization. ;-)

  137. Candi*

    It is not your fault.

    It is absolutely not your fault.

    You need to see a counselor. This is depressive behavior you are demonstrating. Google for resources and don’t wait.

    Good luck on the job search.

  138. Whyblue*

    I want to recommend a book, but unfortunately it only exists in German and Korean (Peter Modler – Das Arroganzprinzip). The author basically says that there are three levels of communication: high talk, small talk, and body talk with body talk being the most effective and high talk the least effective. When attached, you should always respond with a more effective level. So when clerk launches his “your mother” thing (= small talk), don’t try to have a serious discussion (=high talk), just flip him off (=body talk)…

  139. BTW*

    I’m sure this has been said as I’m assuming EEOC is your equivalent, but I would have ZERO problems bringing this to my labour board. This guys behaviour is absolutely disgusting and I am appalled that the boss and HR don’t see a problem with this. Our LB would not let this kind of thing continue. This guy makes me so angry. I would take this company for all that it’s worth, honestly.

    I’m so sorry that this is affecting you emotionally and I don’t blame you. I would feel pretty crappy about a situation like this as well and can’t say I wouldn’t walk off the job. What this guy is doing is totally a HIM issue. It has nothing to do with you. I’m not sure if his parents raised him like that but he has some *serious* issues.

    I hope that everything works out in the end.

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