update: the men in our office use the women’s bathrooms … only for pooping

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer last month with the male coworkers who did all their pooping in the women’s bathrooms? Here’s the update.

I have an update on already! First off, thank you to all the commenters who confirmed that our feelings that this whole situation was ridiculous were valid. Sometimes we felt like we were going crazy. The AAM community also picked up on something quite accurately – there were serious issues of misogyny taking place in the workplace beyond the bathrooms (I could spend a ton of time on that but I will just leave it at this). I didn’t particularly consider the bathroom issue to be related to those issues of sexism, but some very valid points were made. Seacalliope nailed it on the head in their comment: “Is anything actually more petty than pooping in a place that is specifically delimited for use by other people? It is literally how animals assert dominance.” Also, I don’t know why we never just suggested that the bathroom be cleaned more often. Seriously, such a simple solution and it never occurred to us that once a week wasn’t enough, for some reason.

Well I have some exciting news that is not directly related to the bathroom situation but a change to the overall workplace which has made an impact. The owners (including the CEO who was a culprit in the bathroom situation) decided to sell the business. The new owners, 2 men and 1 woman, are wonderful and immediately stepped in and made changes for the employees that were incredible. Better benefits and even better pay for people who after learning about their duties they identified as underpaid. Everyone there is really excited! But here’s the really fun part. Former CFO, a blatant sexist who made inappropriate comments and called people (mostly women) stupid, apparently had… a little trouble letting go. He tried to refuse to give his passwords to the financial systems over AFTER the sale was finalized. He came into the office after he was supposed to be officially out and went to his old office, continued to refuse to give over his passwords and his building key (he had the only master key). The only one of the new owners who was in the office was the woman, whom I will call Shera. Shera excused herself from a meeting when she was notified that old CFO was in his old office and went to speak to him. According to my friend there was door slamming and screaming (from him). I wish I could be a fly on the wall as a woman told this sexist jerk that he needed to act like a grownup and get out. After he left they called a locksmith to change the building locks, changed the security codes, disabled all his accounts, etc. etc. It was truly a glorious day that I lived vicariously through my friend.

So in a short period of time the new owners have already changed the culture of the workplace. It’s no nonsense and the employees feel taken care of and respected. The bathroom issue specifically isn’t resolved necessarily, but I have a feeling that just the new atmosphere of respect will have an impact.

{ 113 comments… read them below }

      1. Jason Funderberker*

        Love that you named her after the hero. I’m just imagining her growing bigger and glowing brighter with every horrible word he threw at her. So amazing! I’m glad this update was even better than expected!

      2. Salamander*

        OMG, yessss. Love that you named her after the Princess of Power and that she got the CFO to surrender!

  1. sometimeswhy*

    Holy moly this is satisfying! I always hope for a deus ex machina style resolution for the particularly egregious ones but never expect to actually GET ONE.

          1. iheartplants*

            I think Marthooh is being tongue-in-cheek and referring to the feminine version of “deus” which is “dea” (or so Wikipedia tells me, link to article in username).

          2. Les G*

            I believe Marthooh was simply using humor to point out that in this case, the so-called “deus” was of the butt-kicking lady variety.

          3. MoopySwarpet*

            Unless you want to indicate that the “god” in question is female, which I think is Marthooh’s point.

  2. CR*

    Having new owners is a fantastic opportunity change something that needs changing! The issue still needs to be resolved, so hopefully you can bring it up with the new owners.

    1. Observer*

      Well, the issue seems to be largely resolved – more cleaning and getting rid of the sexist trash at the top.

  3. Phony Genius*

    I am assuming that the CFO was not one of the owners. Otherwise, this would be a bizarre form of seller’s remorse.

    1. Letter Writer*

      Oh yes, he was indeed one of the owners. Which is one of the reasons why it was incredibly bizarre. He signed the papers, got the check, and then STILL pulled this little stunt.

      1. Nea*

        I wonder if he was trying to shake them – or at least her particularly – down for more money to turn over what they’d already bought from him.

      2. pentamom*

        He probably was forced to sell by the others, and this was his way of protesting. Very childish, of course.

      3. TypityTypeType*

        My brother’s business was sold, but the old owner still hangs around — he is having trouble detaching. If somebody else wants something, it makes him unhappy to let them have it, because the Shiny has become desirable, and he needs to have all the desirable things for himself. It took an eternity to get the sale completed, and he still won’t go away.

        1. selena81*

          I always assumed those people are *desperate* for some of their old employees to come out and proclaim ‘you may have brought this company close to bancrupcy, but i now realize what a wonderful wonderful person you where’
          As in: if he didn’t _have_ to sell the company but _wanted_ to sell the company then old boss probably already moved on to greener pastures after the sale, start a new company or enjoy retirement or whateves.

          Probably also some gross misunderstanding of power-dynamics: if people told you nice things when you were boss than most of them will stop telling you what you want to hear when you are no longer boss.

  4. Falling Diphthong*

    He tried to refuse to give his passwords to the financial systems over AFTER the sale was finalized.

    Gosh that’s an interesting… way to go down with a ship that everyone else realizes is a tea trolley, and they’re just going to wait you out while it slowly rolls along.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      Right? What a strange life choice he made.

      Because, of course, should he continue to refuse there would be no way for the new owners to, say, contact the financial institutions or system administrators and request a reset of the passwords. He’ll show them, he will!

  5. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

    “It was truly a glorious day that I lived vicariously through my friend.”

    Thank you for allowing us to live it vicariously through you! This is such a great update.

  6. Accounting IsFun*

    Tone at the top is imperative. Getting rid of the misogynists at the top will hopefully improve the overall culture. Especially if the top people make it very clear that misogyny is not tolerated.

    1. Sally*

      Yes! It’s like when my dog was barking while I was at work. We did general dog training (nothing about the barking), and the barking stopped.

  7. CatCat*

    Great that a new culture is being brought into this office! I hope you’ll update us again on any resolution of the bathroom issue though!

  8. Det. Charles Boyle*

    Great news! And I bet if someone mentioned this whole “men using the women’s bathroom” situation to the new owners, without even bringing up the pooping, they would be aghast.

  9. Noah*

    Not that this in any way justifies CFO’s behavior, but I wonder if he had a contract (as C-level people sometimes do) that the new owners were not honoring. If so, his way of going about enforcing it was still ridiculous.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Perhaps…but then you call your lawyer to handle it. He’s hurting himself by being so aggressive, I would assume his contract also includes a code of conduct.

    2. Steve*

      LW wrote above that CFO was one of the old owners. So quite messed up. If CFO sold the place then they would have full authority on the contract language.

    3. Letter Writer*

      Ah see, the CFO was in fact one of the owners who was selling. The buy out contract included them getting a continued cut of the profits through the end of the year, their salaries, and they got to keep their company vehicles. I’m sure there were a few other things, but the terms of the sale were made very transparent to the staff (which is a good thing because of course people get nervous that their jobs are on the line and all that type of thing) and there was a specific day that everything was to be handed over and the owners (which were just the CEO and CFO) were to no longer be involved. This whole debacle happened the following Monday. If he had a legal leg to stand on I am quite sure he would have just gotten his lawyer to jump all over it in a legitimate way. This is also a man who sued former employees who quit over unenforceable non-competes and things like that, knowing that he simply had more cash than they did and could ride them out until they ran out of money to keep fighting. He’s no stranger to his legal options if there were in fact even the smallest thing for him to hang on to.

      1. SarcasticFringehead*

        The new owners could probably have sued him for refusing to give them what they needed to run their business.

      2. selena81*

        Perhaps he had planned to immediately get another job and make fun of you all because he was earning a double salary, only to end up with far less money and prestige than he imagined.

        He definitely sounds like an all-around jerk. Not a bit misguided, not confused, but a power-hungry jerk.
        So good to hear things are changing for the better at your workplace.

  10. SO*

    If the bathroom issue continues, perhaps the entrance to the women’s bathroom could be locked as a default, and only the female staff members be provided with keys?

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      I worked at a place that had to do this. It was extremely aggravating – but better than the alternative. It was so embarrassing when visiting women asked to use the restroom, too. “Here’s an enormous key to the women’s room, because the men who work here are gross!”

    2. NerdyKris*

      Unless you lock the men’s room as well, that’s going to be a discrimination issue. Especially if any woman who forgets her keys just uses the men’s room. It would make one bathroom unisex and the other women only.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        Addressing a one-directional problem with a one-directional solution isn’t discrimination.

      2. Elizabeth*

        I’ve actually been in lots of buildings where the women’s room needs a key and the men’s doesn’t, usually when the bathrooms aren’t actually in the office suite itself. I’ve always assumed it’s a safety concern to make sure that random people don’t lurk in the women’s room.

        1. sam*

          same here, including in the dorms at my state university. There was a pretty terrible rape/murder near my university the year before I started, and one of the safety parameters that got instituted was that all of the womens’ bathrooms in all of the dorms got those security code locks, so that trespassers couldn’t enter.

          Men were expected to fend for themselves.

          1. selena81*

            Men were expected to fend for themselves.

            I do think there’s worrying discrimination in there. Maybe not the legal kind but the double-standards kind where people are mocked for falling short of their assigned gender-roles (girls be pretty, boys be strong)
            Of course not all men will see it that way: a lot of them take great pride in their supposed strength, but a lot of girls also like being pretty and still most people will agree that it’s harmful to judge a girl on her cute blond curls.

      3. sstabeler*

        …no it’s not, or at least its’ not going to be illegal discrimination. The whole point is that the men shouldn’t be in the women’s bathroom. Granted, if the women start using the men’s bathroom, that would become an issue, but it doesn’t mean that locking the men out of the women’s bathroom would be discrimination.

        Also, why exactly does it make the men’s bathroom unisex? Women would presumably be expected not to use the men’s bathroom, it’s just that it actually needed more effort to enforce matters keeping the men out of the women’s bathroom.

    3. mrs__peel*

      I used to work in a federal office where we had to swipe our electronic ID badges to enter the bathrooms, for security purposes. (We were required to have the badges on us at all times anyway, so it wasn’t an extra thing to carry). Something like that might work.

      1. Marthooh*

        This reminds of the planet in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” where they measure the difference between what you eat and what you excrete, so it’s vitally important that you get a receipt every time you use a toilet.

  11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’m so happy you’ve been freed from those imbeciles! I found out recently enough my toxic sexist beast of a former employer did the exact same thing (sold) and the new owners are a million times better. I’m so glad to see these kinds of cowards tuck tails and head for the hills while the staff they’ve been torturing rejoices and enjoys the new freedom.

  12. Needs More Cookies*

    My guess is that Mr. CFO didn’t quite have sufficient time to cover up his tracks on something. If I were the new owners I would immediately start auditing those financials…

    1. Sara without an H*

      Oops! Yes, if I were one of the owners, I’d definitely call the accountants for a discreet audit.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        I wouldn’t even bother to make it discreet. “This dude is super shady. Please make sure he didn’t take anything he shouldn’t’ve, kthnx!”

    2. TootsNYC*

      There is a theory that people who are sexual harassers (as a pattern) are also candidates for having committed financial fraud.

      “We noticed a similar pattern in reports of sexual harassment and assault: often people who engage in sexually predatory behavior also faked expense reports, plagiarized writing, or stole credit for other people’s work.”

      (link in my name)
      At Quartz (qz.com)
      The Al Capone theory of sexual harassment can help Silicon Valley stop hiring horrible people

      By Valerie Aurora August 2, 2017

      1. selena81*

        Makes sense: lack of moral code tends to spil over in every area of life.
        Hollywood (and writers throughout history) love the idea of the ‘nobel criminal’ who robs banks but also protects widows and orphans. And it’s true that humans can compartmentalize, but that’s never 100%. There isn’t such a thing as ‘the sexist who is not also a racist somehow’.

        If people think it’s *funny* to abuse their power in sneaky ways than they’ll find several outlets for that power-abuse.

  13. Aphrodite*

    I suspect that the first time she goes into the women’s room right after a man has been in there new rules (and possibly locks) will be instituted.

    Yay for the changes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Jam Today*

    That CFO is lucky he didn’t leave in handcuffs. I would have had no problem calling the police and having him arrested for trespassing.

  15. pope suburban*

    This was brilliant and I love it. I used to dream about this happening at the Job of Evil Bees, and I am so glad that *someone* got to live that dream. Long live Shera, the other new bosses, and OP!

  16. chickia*

    >>>>>>>He tried to refuse to give his passwords to the financial systems over AFTER the sale was finalized

    I suspect shenanigans!

  17. MissDisplaced*

    Oh! That is just GRAND!
    But given there are new owners, I would seriously pursue having clearly defined and separate Men’s and Women’s bathrooms. For a whole host of reasons.

  18. RUKiddingMe*

    Oh yay OP! Definitely mention the bathroom thing to the new female owner. WTAF with the former CFO? What a douchebag.

  19. AdAgencyChick*

    I’m imagining She-Ra putting her sword under this guy’s nose and saying, “The passwords. Now.”

    Love this update!

    1. Letter Writer*

      What’s interesting is that former CFO had been checked out of the business for years. He would come into the office maybe once or twice a week. He actually had given all his passwords to my friend, who is the accountant. When they were going through the process of the buy out, the new owners were meeting with everyone and for *some* reason (eye roll) he kept trying to refuse to let them meet her and talk to her about what she did. Which was basically all the financials. So when this whole thing went down, she was like “uh, guys, I have all the passwords…” She’s basically been doing everything for him for quite awhile now. It was highly entertaining.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Interesting….. I really hope the new owners do have their books audited by their accounting firm. It seems like a necessary idea.

      2. animaniactoo*

        Ah, that’s awesome. I was seriously hoping that wasn’t going to turn into a longterm IT/reconstructing records mess.

        1. Letter Writer*

          Luckily this happens to be an IT firm lol. Which made me wonder how his passwords were somehow difficult to get a hold of… I’m guessing they were passwords directly with the vendor or something. But regardless, they have them and between my friend and some other very good people who work there they will have a little unraveling to do but it shouldn’t be a big issue.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Omg I wonder if he was too embarrassed to admit he had forgotten them and needed to look them up where he’d written them.

  20. Lady Phoenix*

    I would definitely inform the new bosses about the bathroom situation as well as the toxic, secist environment brought on by old boss. This will help them get a clear picture about how to strive the company forward.

  21. Emily S.*

    OP – Wow, I am so glad to hear this news! I had just been thinking about this letter recently, and I wondered what happened.

    This sounds like a great outcome. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Annonymouse*

    Keep the ladies’ room locked and leave the key with the receptionist, who, hopefully, isn’t spineless.

    1. Ice and Indigo*

      Though that could create problems for a desperate woman if the receptionist stepped away for a moment!

      If the new bosses are as good as they sound, a ruling saying, ‘The signs on the doors say ‘Men’s Toilet’ and ‘Women’s Toilet’, not ‘Men’s Pissing Room’ and ‘Men’s Shitting Room’, I know you can read, do not test us on this,’ would be a simpler solution.

  23. Flash Bristow*

    I… da… what? I have no words.

    I mean, I’m really glad it’s fixed, but I don’t understand how the poopers let it get this bad… Hoping it goes smoothly from here!

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