someone is violating our bathrooms, coworker takes over my desk when I’m out, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. We have a building masturbator and don’t know who it is

I am a property manager at an office building and people have recently reported that there’s, well, a building masturbator. He apparently does his business several times a day while listening to music (?????) in a restroom that is open to everyone in the building. He has not been identified yet (and may never be).

Oh, and our janitorial staff has reported cleaning up bodily fluids atypical for an office environment, which is completely unacceptable. So he’s not very tidy about this either.

I am in charge of this godforsaken place. There is no one above me who can take this on. I can get support if I need it, but in the end it’s on me. So I have to do something, but I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to stealthily find out who he is or who he works for, at which point I can say something to his company I guess? But it’s a pretty weird thing to discuss in a professional setting and I don’t know how to approach it even if we can accurately pinpoint the culprit.

You have stumped me.

In theory, you could tell the people reporting this that the only way you can take action is if you know who’s doing it and so if they see who comes out the next time, that’s something you can act on … but ew. Or since he’s apparently listening to music during the act, you could make a point of passing by the building bathrooms more frequently and stopping if you hear music, then doing your own stake-out. But then yeah, where do you go from there? Confront him directly? Talk to his company? I’d lean toward the last one, but if I’m an office manager who’s told one of our employees is masturbating in the bathroom and needs to stop, I have no idea how I’d approach that conversation.

You can try signs, but they’re typically ineffective — and what would you say, beyond warning about biohazards? You can try locking the bathrooms and making people check out keys for access, which might be a deterrent. But none of this feels direct enough.

You have found a major hole in my skill set for this column. Can anyone out there help solve this?

2. Job searching with a company-provided phone

I’ve been at the same company for about five years and I get a cell phone as part of my benefits package. These phones are not strictly for work use — we’re told it is a personal phone, IT does not have access to anything on them, and it’s normal for employees with this benefit to use it as their sole phone. The only part of it that I do not own is the phone number — since it’s a company cell plan, if I left I would need to get a new number.

I’m feeling a bit stagnant in my position and I’m casually looking at jobs. Nothing serious, just keeping an eye on postings in case anything interesting pops up. This is my only phone (aside from my office phone) but I feel a bit squicky about using a company perk to possibly move on. At the same time, it’s understood that this phone is for personal use and a job application falls under that heading. No one would ever know if I used it to do a phone interview so I’m mostly just curious about what the ethical move is. I’m torn. What are your thoughts?

If they’ve explicitly told you it’s a personal phone and you can use it for personal things, I think you can take them at their word and use it for personal things, including talking to other employers.

However, you definitely shouldn’t put that phone number on your resume or job applications because if you leave this job, you’ll lose access to it. Instead, get a Google Voice number and set it to ring on that phone. You can give that number to employers, and you can switch it to a different phone if you ever need to. (In fact, it’s probably a good idea to make that the number you give to other personal contacts too since you can keep that number with you when you leave.)

3. My coworker sits at my desk when I’m out

There is a coworker at my office who occupies my desk if I’m out or vacation. He displays his toys (cars, Lego, etc.) and sometimes leaves them there. He does not need to sit at my desk since he can answer the phones in his office. I don’t like this and he knows this, but I think he is doing it deliberately. I’m an office administrator and he is an office clerk. What can I say to him without him getting offended and continue with his actions?

Sometimes it makes sense for someone to sit at your desk if you’re out, like if they need to greet visitors. Even then, though, it would be odd for them to transport toy cars and Legos to your desk for a single day of coverage!

But assuming there’s not a work-related need for him to sit there, you can say, “Bob, I noticed you’ve been sitting at my desk when I’m out. I’d prefer that you remain at your own desk when you’re covering the phones for me. Is there a reason you’ve been sitting here?”

Then listen to what he says. It’s possible there’s some work-related reason for it. If there is, you can say, “Could you make sure you move your stuff back to your own desk at the end of the day? I keep coming in and finding toy cars and Legos here.” But he doesn’t have a reason, it’s reasonable to repeat, “I’d prefer that you stay at your own desk when I’m out.”

All that said, if it’s not causing any actual problems (like he’s seeing confidential papers he shouldn’t see or messing up your organizational system), you may be better off trying not to care. Ultimately it’s not really “your” desk — it’s your company’s — and it can look off to seem deeply invested in keeping someone else from using it when you’re out.

4. Name changes and job searches

I am applying for many jobs, some of which are in the field that I have a bachelor’s degree in. However, since I was in college, my name has changed several times. I was (First name) (Maiden name) when I started school, then (First name) (Married name) partway through and when I completed my degree. Eventually, it went back to (First name) (Maiden name). Then, for personal reasons, I legally changed my name to (New First name) (New last name). It is this name which I use now. How and when do I explain this to employers?

I am assuming that they will want to check references, but since those were under a different name, I will have to tell them about it. And what about my college degree? Does anyone contact the college you graduated from nearly twenty years ago? I would imagine that the maiden name/married name thing comes up fairly often, but three/four different names? I don’t want to appear flakey, but I also can’t have them contacting a company and being told that (New First name) (New Last name) never worked there. I know a background check specifically addresses this, but that would be after I had been offered a position.

This won’t seem that weird! The maiden name/married name/maiden name switch is one that a lot of people have done, so the only semi-unusual element here is the later switch to new first and last names. But that shouldn’t be a big deal once you explain it.

When you’re asked for references, include a note with the reference list you provide that says something like, “My name has changed several times due to marriage and other factors. I’ve been known by Jane Smith (maiden name), Jane Warbleworth (married name), and Tangerina Stewpot (current name) and have indicated below which name a reference will know me by.” Then, with each reference you list, include something like “(knows me as Jane Smith).”

You can also add, “If you’re verifying my degree, Crumpet University can verify me under my married name, Jane Warbleworth.”

5. Subtitles during video calls

I’ve seen a smattering of questions from hard of hearing candidates about available resources and technology available.

I recently learned that Skype has live subtitles during video calls — and, I think, for phone calls as well, though I have not personally used this feature (yet!). I’m hard of hearing myself, and I can report that the captions are pretty fast and accurate. I used them recently for a video interview and an introductory conference call and they were much better experiences than my caption phone usually provides.

Thank you!

{ 868 comments… read them below }

  1. Bulldog*

    LW1 – If it is known that the perpetrator is doing this multiple times a day and listening to music while doing it, I would think it should be fairly easy to identify him. How many people do you have listening to music in the bathroom?

    1. Xavier89*

      I guess it depends on how big the office building is, I’m picturing someone leaving their floor and going to another floor to do…that, so I wonder if that’s why nobody knows who it is

      If it was someone who worked on the same floor/company I imagine it would be easy to figure out

      1. always in email jail*

        ^This. Do whatever it takes to drive them back to their floor. We had a bizarre ongoing feces situation in a building I worked in, and we were pretty sure the culprit was not someone who worked on the floor on which the deed was taking place. The building keyed the bathrooms on that floor and only issues keys to people who worked on that floor. Once the individual lost their anonymity, the feces situation stopped.

        1. Barefoot Librarian*

          My sister is a pediatric nurse and they call particularly messy explosions in the hospital a “fecal incident”. I always thought that would make a great death metal band name lol.

        2. Mama Bear*

          We have keyed locks on our doors. It’s a code only given out to our employees and guests, but I’ve also seen other places where people have to use their same key fobs on bathrooms as they would on other doors on the floor. Floors get locked down all the time. Some buildings require a fob to use the elevator. I think this may be a good solution if the building management can afford it.

          1. TootsNYC*

            ooh, it would be interesting if you could get a system that would allow you to issue multiple codes, and then track when they’re used.

            1. Donkey Hotey*

              In the words of my hero, “I dream of the day when I will learn to stop asking questions to which I will regret learning the answers.”

        3. JSPA*


          What will work may depend in part on whether people are doing it compulsively in a general sense: some poop leavers are germophobes or unable to deal with having produced feces, and can’t flush unlidded toilets. Presumably compulsive masturbation can be similar.

          Alternatively, it’s a paraphilia thing (they’re getting an erotic or other charge from making someone else deal with their bodily products). If it’s the latter, I suppose it could be dealt with as a version of sexual harassment, in that making other people part of your sex life without their consent is presumably always grounds for dismissal.

          For the manager: I believe some drugs used for OCD and perhaps also CBT can help people get a handle on the problem, whether it’s a phobic compulsion or a paraphilic compulsion. (A different handle, that is.)

          So there may be some version of, “if this is medically treatable, you get a chance to come back if you have a note that you’re under treatment and that it’s working.” That would then default to the same medical / disability / privacy issues as any other behavior that’s disruptive beyond the point where accommodations are reasonable.

          1. Zap R.*

            Okey dokey, this site has always had a problem with suggesting people try therapy to correct asshole behaviors but this has taken it to a wild new level.

            Compulsive public masturbation and leaving body fluids all over the place for someone else to clean up is not normal OCD behaviour. Accommodations and CBT are not the solution here.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes. And a manager has zero obligation to go with the “if this is medically treatable” route — if somehow this is an ADA thing (which I highly doubt) the employee can raise that themselves. In fact, by framing it that way first, the manager risks incurring legal obligations they otherwise wouldn’t have (because the ADA covers anyone perceived to have a disability, even if they don’t).

              But really, some bad behavior is just bad behavior. You don’t need to accommodate this, period.

              1. JSPA*

                I did not suggest accommodation. I suggested, “you can’t be here unless you not only tell me that this will stop, but provide an outside assessment confirming that the issue has been addressed.”

                Exactly this behavior has been described as a paraphilia. Paraphilias, as a class, are not rare. They are not common in OCD, but their treatment often does respond to some of the same medications. This isn’t hypothetical.

                1. JSPA*



                  Again, I’m not saying “this is medical, so it’s worthy of accommodation.” I’m saying, It’s commonly enough a named disorder (albeit one that’s resistant to treatment) that it’s reasonable to require a “fit to return” note as a condition for continued employment on site. Just as you would if someone had some other disease that rendered them unfit for work / unsafe on the job site / not employable under current circumstances.

              2. AspieGirl*

                A friend of mine that works in HR had to deal with someone who would masturbate at work. When he was approached, he claimed it was part of a disabling medical condition. Through the interactive process, they offered him work from home as an accommodation so he could tend to his medical condition as needed. All parties were happy with this solution from my understanding.

            2. TardyTardis*

              This reminds me of the person at the local Taco Bell who got caught adding his own ‘secret sauce’…

            1. JSPA*

              Admittedly, I’m often wordy, but my comment just isn’t that long to explain quite so many people not reading it. Too many subordinate clauses?

              Look, the original comment specifically says, NO RETURN TO THE WORKPLACE unless a doctor vouches that treatment has succeeded. Because, whether or not this is a condition, it is “DISRUPTIVE BEYOND THE PONT WHERE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE REASONABLE.”

              1. eek*

                I think people are resistant to the idea that you would give them a chance to come back at all, with or without a doctor’s note. I think the general consensus is, you do this you deserve to get fired. The manager shouldn’t have to think about notes or whether the behavior would continue, just get the person out of the building period.

    2. MommyMD*

      They could be using ear pods. Perpetrator needs to be identified and warned. This is disturbing sexual behavior at work. If he refuses to stop, he should be fired.

      DNA can easily confirm this but seems too far.

        1. Auntie Social*

          They just need to collect that sample. The report comes back with a list of your relatives. The ‘bator can’t object because he abandoned his sample. Between this and IT checking to see if anyone is looking at porn. . . .

          1. ThatGirl*

            You would need something to match it to, though. Unless the perp is already in whatever database, it would just be information without a name attached.

            1. TooTiredToThink*

              There’s websites like GEDMATCH that you can use to compare results to find family members. The FBI has been doing that to close some cold cases – they narrow down to a potential family and can go from there.

            2. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

              To be fair, someone who exhibits this kind of behaviour, wouldn’t he already be in the system? Because this is really weard, to me.

              1. AKchic*

                Not necessarily. Do you have any idea how many r*pe kits are backlogged in the US? So many serial r*pists are getting away with their crimes because kits are languishing in evidence storage rooms (seriously, look up Alaska’s problem). We can literally point out individuals with multiple victims and be told “prove it” and say “you have the r*pe kits, test them” and be told “there’s no money, you’ll have to pay for it yourself”, and if by some happenstance the victim is able come up with the funds (which… is bogus in the first place), the DA will either elect not to prosecute, or a judge will allow a plea bargain of some sort allowing him practically no jail time at all. And they still won’t do anything about the rest of the victims because “well, there’s no money and we’re already back-logged”.

                Victims get no justice.

      1. Jemima Bond*

        If he’s wearing ear pods how would they know he’s listening to music? Is he singing along? I’m imagine “je t’aime” by Serge Gainsbourg… sorry…

        1. Caterpie*

          Possibly he has it up loud enough that they can hear it leaking through the earpods if they’re in the next stall over? I’ve never used earpods but in my experience some of the older Apple earbuds were awful with noise leakage.

          1. pancakes*

            I’m assuming that’s what’s happening. There are all sorts of headphones that leak noise—I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve been able to identify which song someone in my vicinity on the subway has cranked up.

        2. LadyCop*

          I interpreted this as sound leakage because the question marks suggest they be not listening to music…but watching adult content on a phone…or music…

          I need to bleach my brain now.

      2. TootsNYC*

        but if they’re using ear pods, how to people know they’re listening to music?

        For that matter, how do people know it’s being done while someone is listening to music? I’m presuming the music is partly used to mask any sounds, and it must be loud enough to be heard outside.

        1. Stormfeather*

          Yeah, this is what I want to know. If they know someone is listening to music while going about their, uh, leisure activities, then presumably it’s because they hear it or whatever, and so whyyyy are they not looking to see who it is?

          1. LW1*

            I don’t know. I assume the people who have complained, if they have seen him, also don’t want to confront the guy. So they’re making it my problem. :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

    3. Orange You Glad*

      Right now there are no true consequences for the person causing the problem & it will continue until there ARE consequences!

      Each time it happens, I would close that restroom completely for “sanitization” for 1-2 business days and post a notice about why. If everybody on that floor has to go downstairs to use the restroom, it will be really obnoxious AND lessen the likelihood the person will switch restrooms (there will be double the traffic in the combined restroom).

      And if you reopen the restroom and it happens again? Then AGAIN you close it for 1-2 business days and sanitize it and post a notice about why. If the person switches restrooms, I would close that one too. Basically everyone suffers until this person stops…which super sucks AND means you have an entire building determined to figure out who it is so they can be spoken to/fired and the restrooms stop being closed.

      1. Orange You Glad*

        The notice could be:

        “Restroom Closed For Sanitization
        Unfortunately someone has applied bodily fluids to the walls and floor of this restroom creating a biohazard. Please use the restroom located [downstairs, etc] instead. Thank you.”

        1. Lena Clare*

          I’d go for the “as soon as we find out who’s using the bathroom as their personal fap booth, we’ll be telling your mother”

          Absolutely disgusting, socially inept, selfish man.

          1. Kate*

            I have a good angle for this – cleaning up bodily fluids may not fall under the typical duties of a porter/janitorial service. Now – even if it did, you could use this. Speak with each business that is included in the building, explain the situation and say that unless this stops – you will be forced to raise rent to cover the cost of specialty cleaning company who is licensed to handle biological cleaning. Now again, this is a bit overkill – but it could be used as incentive to figure out who it is – because otherwise you have to increase everyone’s rent.

            Honestly – you could even be completely honest with each renter and explain that you really aren’t going to do this – but this is the message that needs to communicated to staff, so that they understand they cannot continue to do this.

            1. Cat Fan*

              Good idea except for the last paragraph. You don’t know who the perpetrator is, it could be someone really high up in one of the renters’ organizations. Has anyone seen Succession on HBO?

            2. APosterHasNoName*

              I think the specialty cleaning angle is good. Perhaps including a sign in the restroom along with notifications to the companies…This is a bathroom, not a bedroom. Please comport yourself appropriately.

            3. NotAnotherManager!*

              This is a practical solution to a truly gross problem! I would leave out the last part because I assume the cleaning crew is not going to be willing to clean this up long-term (or the cleaning company will up the rates themselves). But yeah, get the tenants invested in figuring out which of their employees is the problem and fixing it.

            4. eek*

              You can’t just arbitrarily raise the rent. I am guessing these businesses have signed leases with the building which dictates their rent. You can’t raise the rent until the lease has expired. Often with businesses leases that can be several years away.

              1. Kate*

                In this scenario, it’s not arbitrary though. It’s directly caused by a person doing something that is creating “biological waste” that needs to be cleaned by a company that is licensed and trained to remove biological waste.

                Also – the whole point here is not to actually raise the rent, but to get the person to stop. If tenants hear that a rent increase (or additional fee) will passed along to them due to this specific scenario, they now have motivation to help it stop. Once it stops, no additional cleaning fee needs to be included. It’s essentially just creating motivation for the tenants to put a stop to it.

        2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

          But if I saw that sign I’d just assume that someone had applied the, er, kind of bodily fluids one expects to find in a toilet, perhaps caused by some kind of explosive diarrhea. I wouldn’t think of THAT kind of fluid…

          1. Just J.*

            But maybe not. Is it too gross to put on the sign that it is ejaculate?

            I think the goal here is to apply as much shame as possible.

            1. Snuck*

              “Someone in the office is smearing this toilet as only a 16yr old teen can. Stop it. It’s gross. Don’t make me mention the ejaculate word. Thanks”

            2. Emily K*

              Yeah, I don’t think beating around the bush serves a useful purpose in this context. Protecting people from reading the word “ejaculate” seems like the wrong thing to be focusing on when they’re already being exposed to the actual substance. Just write, “Restroom closed due to misuse and contamination of facilities with ejaculate.”

        3. Henchman needs a promotion*

          A better notice for the bathroom would be “WOMEN ONLY” this bathroom is for women only, we ask that gentlemen please use the bathroom closest to their workfloor”

          1. Alli525*

            But then the men who work in that office are stuck with the masturbator. That’s completely unfair to them, and it also doesn’t guarantee that someone with the social skills of a 2-year-old will actually comply with the sign.

            1. Henchman needs a promotion*

              It will help limit and identify the onanist. And he may stop the behavior or reduce his trips to the bathroom if he is limited to using his workgroup’s bathroom. More difficult for his activity to remain anonymous if he is not an anonymous user.

          2. Maeve*

            I mean, as a woman, I used the individual men’s restrooms at my workplace exactly as much as the women’s, because why are they gendered…I don’t see that as much of a deterrent.

        4. AJHall*

          I can’t help thinking “The Invisible Wankmeister has struck again!” is a better approach to labelling. Shutting the loos is genius, mind.

      2. Bilateralrope*

        I’d go talk to the local police. Work with them on producing a warning saying that if this happens again then they will be called in to identify and prosecute the offender. Detail what criminal punishment the offender is likely to face.

        If that stops it, all good. If not, follow through on the threat.

        If someone tries to block reporting this to the police, start job hunting.

            1. SM*

              No, it’s not this person’s private property. It is a bathroom, in public, for the use of the portion of the public that works in this building. It has understood intended purposes, and masturbating isn’t one of them.

              1. I heart Paul Buchman.*

                In my locality a locked toilet cubicle is by definition private space legally, regardless of the toilet’s locality (park shopping centre etc). For this reason a person committing an ‘indecent act’ is immune. This has been tested in cases of people caught having sex in public toilets. I imagine the situation may be the same in other localities.

                Frankly, while I understand the impulse I have found police are often of no assistance unless someone has been physically assaulted and often, not even then.

          1. Not a snowflake*

            Why would it? It’s not public, he’s hurting literally no one. There is no way this is a crime, nor should it be.

            1. Lobsterman*

              I mean, it’s vandalism to put fluids where they’re not supposed to go, but of course the point of a bathroom is to be resistant to failures in this area.

              1. Henchman needs a promotion*

                that said if every time you poop it ends up on the wall, then yes, you have a known problem and the resulting wall poop is vandalism – because you have the knowledge and should take precaution to limit the damage. Same if every time you self pleasure it ends up on the floor – it is vandalism.

                1. Brooklyn ADA*

                  That is simply not true. Vandalism (and Criminal Mischief) is deliberately, recklessly, or negligently causing the damage or destruction of another person’s property resulting in monetary loss or or a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service.

                  This does not meet the legal definition of damage or destruction since you must be able to cite a monetary amount of damage in order to write up a criminal complaint for either of those crimes. Also, the amount of monetary damages determines which degree of the crime the person is charged with– ie. over a $5,000 in damage is 1st degree criminal mischief, under is 2nd degree etc. Often under $250 is not even considered a crime.

                  The only other option in the majority of places is if you cause a substantial interruption or impairment of public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power, or other public service. And this certainly does not qualify as any of those, even if you did shut down the bathroom each time it would not be a substantial interruption. (Also, the building is privately owned so would not count as a public service)

                  I hope that is helpful.

            2. Emily K*

              Public indecency/lewd conduct charges typically come down to what a judge or jury can be convinced is indecent or lewd – the terms are not explicitly defined by law. If other people can audibly hear the offender masturbating that ups the chances that a prosecutor could secure a conviction for lewd conduct, as does the ejaculate left behind.

            3. JSPA*

              If he were cleaning up after himself and flushing the evidence, nobody would know, unless they were looking through the door crack.

              It’s vandalism (and possibly harassment) to leave your bodily products in places where other people are likely to sit in them, stand in them, or grab them, or where they have to clean up after you, unexpectedly. You can’t spray or smear your period blood, feces or jizz around the place. It’s a toilet, not an adult playground.

              1. Brooklyn ADA*

                It is not vandalism or harassment to leave your bodily fluids someplace. You could get a ticket for those behaviors and possibly be guilty of Lewd behavior if you were doing it in public for the purposes of sexual arousal or gratification. (But a bathroom stall in a privately owned building is not considered public as it is neither readily accessible to nor viewable by the general public.)

                But vandalism and harassment? Simply untrue. See my comment above for a full explanation of why vandalism and criminal mischief charges do not apply here. Harassment has to have a specific victim who can testify and you must be able to prove that the behavior was done with the intention of alarming or annoying the victim. You would never prove that here.

                I hope this is helpful.

        1. Jemima Bond*

          I find it difficult to believe that the police are going to agree to threaten to prosecute someone for getting their “personal fluids” on the floor (walls? Ew) of an office toilet. I mean what the heck would the offence be? It’s hardly criminal damage if you can wipe it up. Ok my (non-lawyer) knowledge is of U.K. law not US but if you don’t have a law against gentleman sprinkling wee-wee on the seat as they sometimes do, I shouldn’t think this would be illegal either.
          For the record I agree it’s disgusting but I also think that if you went to the front desk of your local police station and told them you wanted someone threatened with the full force of the law for being disgusting (insert details) they’d laugh you out of there (and you’d end up in a buzzfeed article about “cops tell us ridiculous crime reports people have tried to make”) and if you persisted they’d explain to you about wasting police time (which is an offence here; assume there’s a US equiv.)

          1. when in doubt, send them out*

            Depending on your local police force, it couldn’t hurt to call them and ask. Plenty of agencies who are community-policing oriented might have the time to provide some guidance. The description of behavior given doesn’t meet the criteria of a crime (based on my own state’s criminal code and maybe yours), but it could easily change based on why he is doing this at work.

            1. Isabel Kunkle*

              Yeah–and as per previous post about gun lady, it’s sort of important for everyone to know patterns of behavior. Not being in any way involved with police work, but having read a *lot* of John Douglas, I think that public masturbation *at* a person or organization (if dude is getting fluids on the walls or floor, and leaving them there in a way that’s obvious to janitorial staff, this is clearly not just a “need to drain the pipes” thoughtless intern thing) is the sort of thing that sometimes escalates.

          2. Akcipitrokulo*

            There are very few things in the UK that can’t be prosecuted under “disturbing the peace”…

          3. Emily K*

            You’d be surprised what the legacy of being founded by Puritans has left lingering in our country’s laws.

          4. LibrariAnne*

            I work in a public building that is open to and often used by kids who are not here with adults. It’s also open to adults. I have someone who uses our men’s room to do this. I called the police and was told there was nothing they could do unless he did it outside of the bathroom or invited someone to join him, as there is an expectation of privacy in a bathroom. And yes, our custodian ends up cleaning this dude’s bodily fluids off the toilet, floor, and walls.

        2. ..Kat..*

          Please don’t do this. Police departments are understaffed and overworked. They are concentrating on crimes with more serious consequences for victims.

          They are not going to run DNA on the bathroom samples, get samples from all workers, and run them. This would be time and money prohibitive. (Keep in mind that many states have years of untested rape kits in evidence storage.)

          The police also don’t have the time or manpower to stake out the bathroom.

          Threatening a legal consequence that has almost no chance of happening is just an empty threat.

          PS. In case someone thinks I am police bashing, think again. I am just being realistic about what can be done.

          1. ..Kat..*

            And my sympathies to the cleaning staff. I hope they have the proper training and equipment to clean bodily fluids. But, yuck, they shouldn’t have to deal with this.

          2. LJay*

            Not to mention invasive.

            I don’t particularly want to provide my DNA to the police because someone else is doing something bad in the workplace bathroom. (Not that I could be implicated in this particular crime, but…).

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, I came here to point out the rape kit backlog. The DNA testing suggestions here are just not going to happen — not to mention being incredibly invasive of privacy of the workers there.

        3. Mathilde*

          The police, really ? It is not a crime to get off in a public bathroom, where you are alone.

          It is gross and unprofessional but so is farting in a lift. Not a crime, though.

          I don’t think law unforcement is the way to go there.

          1. Just J.*

            As pointed out above, I bet the police would have really great advice.

            I’m curious as well, could doing this be considered vandalism? Public nuisance? The building manager is having to take time, money, and resources to clean up / sanitize the bathroom.

            1. Brooklyn ADA*

              It isn’t a crime-see my comments above as to why it isn’t vandalism, criminal mischief, harassment or lewd behavior.

          2. JSPA*

            It’s not a crime if you don’t indirectly make other people participate (directly or indirectly) or force them to become aware of it.

            This….doesn’t sound like someone who’s mostly hitting the toilet or wad of toilet paper, wiping up what he sees, and missing a bit.

            Janitors deal with garden variety icky stuff all the time, and say nothing. This must be pretty egregious.

            If someone opens the stall door, steps in, and then is hit with a dripping, spooge-covered door–it’s a problem. Ditto if they’re going for the toilet paper and the roll is sticky.

              1. JSPA*

                No clue what this means. If that’s meant to be a characterization of me, and it’s sexual in nature, I hope it will be removed.

                1. Jules the 3rd*

                  I think it’s a characterization of the situation ‘walked into a bathroom and found leftover ejaculate’ . Like ‘found art’ . Wankenstein is a movie.

        4. Sleepless*

          We called the police once after a couple kept meeting up in our parking lot and having sex in his car. It was practically right in front of the front door. We could have gone up and confronted them, but nobody wanted to. The police didn’t mind coming out and just telling them to knock it off.

          1. Dean Winchester*

            So, you racially decide on who gets a visit from the police and who doesn’t. Says a lot about you.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Dude. POC are much more likely to get shot, arrested or otherwise hassled by police in the way white people wouldn’t. I do the same thing. If you think race and policing are unrelated you got another think coming.

            2. Isabel Kunkle*

              I decided based on, y’know, living in the world, that POC are in significantly more risk of getting killed by police for nonviolent offenses than white people, and I had not (yet) gotten to the point where I would be particularly okay with the downstairs idiots dying as a consequence of their assholery. Risk assessment is a thing.

              Also what ThatGirl said.

          2. Flash Bristow*

            Oh! I’ve called the police when neighbours were fighting violently. They are black. I didn’t realise I should have left them to it!

            /sarcasm, obv

            1. Isabel Kunkle*

              Depends on the country and the violence. In the US, POC are way more likely than white people to get unnecessarily killed by police, I’m white, and I don’t want to go there unless I think there’s a similarly significant risk that someone dies if I leave the situation alone. In this case, there was no violence that I could hear–it was screaming about how so-and-so LIED to her, about EVERYTHING, blah blah blah, but no cries for help or other sounds–so if they weren’t white, the risks wouldn’t have balanced.

              Violent fighting is a different call. Going #notallwhitedudes on posts when people discuss being aware of how fucked-up police are about racial issues is always tiresome.

            2. pancakes*

              Easily recognizable as sarcasm, yes, but no one said or suggested that, so what’s the point of your sarcasm? The idea that it’s hilarious to think of taking someone’s race into account before calling the cops is pretty juvenile and obtuse.

            1. Isabel Kunkle*

              At what point did I say anyone was getting hit? Or that I would refrain from involving the police if things were violence?

              so good at reading. much literacy. wow.

              1. Ethyl*

                I don’t know when it happened but this comment section is one of the weirdest places in the internet, I swear. The amount of fiction that people write in their heads and then comment on alone, before you even get into the comments like “call the police because someone jerked it in the office bathroom.”

            2. MicroChic*

              There is a difference between things that NEED to get reported to the police such as domestic violence and nuisances that can be convenient to have the police handle like loud yelling and sex late at night.

              In the USA, people who aren’t white have a bad history of the police escalating nonviolent and/or routine situations on them, frequently leading to their injury or death.

              So yes, I’d hesitate to call the police on a couple who routinely engaged in loud yelling followed by makeup sex, because while it’s not great for my sleep schedule, it’s not something that either of them deserves death for. Unfortunately, we have to weigh those sorts of things in the US.

              1. ThatGirl*

                What you said.
                It’s not that I would never call the police if a POC were involved, but if it’s not a life-and-death sort of thing there’s a definite risk assessment involved.

          3. Tessa Ryan*

            I’ve had this happen at my office too! A few years ago I got to work and noticed a couple were having very enthusiastic and loud sex in a back ally right by my giant office window. I informed my boss, she said, “that’s just not sexy,” (I still grin to this day at the way she said it) and called the cops. The cops told us to “keep and eye on them” and showed up 5 minutes later to tell them to stop. They never did it again. Police might be a good way to go.

            1. Isabel Kunkle*

              Pretty much. To make the point I think I rambled too much to make before, earlier experiences where I’ve called the cops suggest that having the Loud Knocks of Authority and Serious People In Uniform interrupt your pants-free funtimes is a moodkiller, whether charges are pressed or not, and knowing that could happen at any time tends to discourage people from repeating the action, at least in the same place.

            2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              When I was a lifeguard I have had to tell people to stop having sex in a public pool (not just once). I would like to think it gave me the confidence to tell someone to not masturbate in a bathroom if I heard them doing it, but without the bathing suit of authority I don’t know if I could manage it.

        5. Yorick*

          This could meet the definition of indecent exposure, depending on the laws where you are.

          It’s not like this is private behavior. People know what he’s doing, even without finding the bodily fluids later.

          1. Brooklyn ADA*

            It isn’t indecent exposure. The bathroom in a privately owned building is legally considered a private place and more importantly, they aren’t actually exposing their genitalia to the public or an individual victim.

        6. LadyCop*

          I cannot imagine a law that would cover this. It’s a private matter. Please don’t waste Law Enforcement ‘s time.

          1. GradStudent*

            It’s not our job to decide if a crime is happening. That is literally the police’s job. It is not wasting their time to report behavior that may be criminal. It is what they are there for.

            1. pancakes*

              “May be criminal” covers an enormous range of behavior, not all of which is in fact criminal, and not all of which is worth drawing police attention to when it is. It’s not a free pass to get out of exercising judgment as to whether calling the cops is worthwhile.

              1. Kaitlyn*

                A call and an ask is usually worth it. It’s obviously not a 911 call, but a call to the switchboard – and if your local PD has any kind of special crime unit, asking for that – to have a 10 minute conversation about this.

                1. SweetFancyPancakes*

                  Exactly. We have had multiple officers tell our library staff that it is their (the police’s) job to at least answer questions, and that it’s better to be safe than sorry. We have never been chastised for calling them even when it turned out not to be a big deal. And this is in a city with a comparatively high crime rate (compared to nearby cities) so it’s not like they don’t have anything else to do.

                2. pancakes*

                  I don’t disagree with Kaitlyn or SweetFancyPancakes in these circumstances — I wanted to push back on the idea that it’s “not our job to decide if a crime is happening.” It’s the sort of idea people who call the cops on kids selling lemonade or walking about while black, for example, use to justify their behavior.

              2. Curious*

                Intentionally leaving semen behind seems like the kind of exhibitionist behavior that could escalate to something worse.

                1. pancakes*

                  It could; it could also be a kink that supersedes all others for this dude. Without knowing more I don’t think that possibility in itself is a reason to involve the police.

            1. pancakes*

              I’m not sure where you’re drawing that from. Neither the commenter I replied to or either of the two people earlier in time above them gave an example of a particular thing they would say.

        7. Mayflower*

          OP, please do NOT run to the local police without getting an approval from your attorney first. The typical police response in these situation is that a closed-door bathroom stall, whether office or public, has an expectation of privacy, and in fact YOU could be declared a “peeping tom” in violation of the law. So yeah, do not walk into a police station and admit that you saw someone masturbate in a stall.

          Furthermore, commercial relationships such as landlord-tenant disputes are typically not police business; they will likely offer a sympathetic ear but tell you to take it up with the tenant via the usual avenues such as hiring a biohazard cleanup service and billing the tenant or deducting it from their security deposit.

          1. TootsNYC*

            take it up with the tenant via the usual avenues such as hiring a biohazard cleanup service and billing the tenant or deducting it from their security deposit.

            Here is another route–do you know which employer? Charge them, and make it their business to enforce. If it’s a bathroom that several employers can use, and if you’ve got more than one, give each company a different key. And let them know that if you find ejaculate in their bathroom, you will make them pay for biohazard cleanup.

            Have you tracked how often it’s happening? If it’s multiple times a day, this person has to be away from their desk for a while. So get that sort of tracking info going on, and get the top folks at each company, or their HR folks if they have them, and tell them that if it doesn’t stop, there will be extra cleaning charges.

        8. LW1*

          Regrettably I have a hard enough time getting cops to show up for actual crimes. So I don’t think I could waste their time with this. That being said… I can imply to the tenants that criminal punishment is on the table.

      3. Baru Cormorant*

        I like this. It makes it the problem of people besides just OP and the janitorial staff, which might rope them into helping find out who this creeper is.

      4. Lyonite*

        I think this is a good suggestion. Also, and maybe I’m stretching here, but I have to figure that the person who would do something like this is probably not otherwise behaving well in the work environment, and there’s a reasonable chance the problem will solve itself.

        1. Auntie Social*

          Do you fire him for this, for looking at porn, for general slacking off, not making his numbers? Do you mention that you know that he’s been whacking his mole?

          1. Wren*

            you fire him for this. It constitutes sexual harrassment so flagrant, you don’t warn, you just go straight to firing.

              1. Hlyssande*

                I feel like the fact that he leaves his goop for anyone else to find means he gets some extra pleasure/happiness out of the thought of someone else having to deal with it – and therefore it should be counted as harassment.

                If he was just an extra horny person but was conscientious, he’d clean up after himself, or use something to prevent it from getting everywhere in the first place.

                1. LJay*


                  If someone was just masturbating in the bathroom, but keeping it to themselves, nobody would know that they were masturbating.

                  Since people know what he is doing, I assume he is making sounds. And he is leaving evidence behind. Neither of which is okay.

                2. Parenthetically*

                  “If someone was just masturbating in the bathroom, but keeping it to themselves, nobody would know that they were masturbating.”

                  Exactly. He’s doing it so his semen is visible and stays behind. It’s intentional. It’s exhibitionism. Fired.

              2. Holly*

                It potentially could be. It’s exposing the custodial staff to his bodily fluids. It’s extremely inappropriate.

              3. Wren*

                remember how consensual sexual behaviour can be sexual harrassment for witnesses? that’s what this is. his sexual behaviour at work has come to the unwelcome attention of others in his workplace, ergo, it’s sexual harrassment.

              4. alienor*

                I don’t know, I’m pretty sure it is. We have mandatory sexual harassment training every year in my office, and unwillingly witnessing/being exposed to someone’s inappropriate behavior still qualifies as harassment even if it wasn’t directly aimed at you, and even if they don’t actually work for your company.

              5. Fiberpunk*

                Leaving his semen all over a publicly used place could definitely be harassment. He’s clearly getting something from this, by making others touch and clean up his semen. He is dragging unwilling people into his sexual gratification at work, and you don’t think that’s harassment?

              6. Snickerdoodle*

                He’s making sounds and leaving the mess behind for others to clean up. He knows perfectly well what he’s doing.

                My employer’s policy on sexual harassment includes: “such conduct interferes with a person’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. . . . It can also include other unwelcome verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as touching of an individual, graphic or verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading verbal abuse, a display in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, sexually explicit or offensive jokes and physical assault.” Leaving behind ejaculate multiple times per day is most emphatically creating an intimidating, hostile, and/or offensive environment, and it definitely falls under a display in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects. Gross. This guy needs to be fired.

            1. EddieSherbert*

              I don’t think it counts as sexual harassment, but it doesn’t need to. You can fire someone just for having absolutely terrible judgement and no understanding of appropriate workplace behavior.

              That being said, it sounds like OP is not in a position to fire anyone (sounds like they’re the building manager and companies with employees rent parts of the building).

              1. Snickerdoodle*

                I kind of feel like people are losing sight of “But we can’t make it qualify for anything fireable!” So what? You can be fired for any reason or no reason most places in the US.

          2. Anon for this*

            Given large swathes of the American populace is employed under a range of “at will” type of arrangements I’d be thinking:

            Don’t muck about. Dump him. If he tries to sue for unfair dismissal he’s going to shut up pronto when you say “He didn’t perform in the role, and we didn’t bother with warnings because he was leaving the bathroom unusable for other staff”. (But the manage of him has to do that, so he needs to be identified by this property manager discreetly)

            True story… a staff member (I’m not in the USA) complained when he was fired for using work computers for personal use and got the union involved. The union asked him to be reinstated, and I understand the conversation went something like this:
            Employer “Yeah, no, we aren’t rehiring him”
            Union “But everyone does personal stuff on the PCs”
            Employer “He did stuff that was ‘adult’ in nature on them”
            Union “But he’s not the only person in the office using them for that”
            Employer “He did stuff we won’t tolerate”
            Union “But lots of people have looked at adult movies in the office on PCs”
            Employer “We said no… we won’t take him back”
            Union “See you in court”
            Employer “Oh, ok then… we won’t take him back because he was distributing kiddy movies and the police have arrested him”
            Union “Woah, ok, you have a point, he didn’t tell US that.”


              1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

                Eh, I’m pretty sure that in my (European) country, the union wouldn’t bother defending former employer once that was revealed (refering to the adult content of the personal use). Even if the employer did that during their break. Some things are just not done at work.

              2. Anon for this*

                I think the implication was “if they can do it, without getting fired, you are picking on this employee…”

            1. Anonymeece*

              You know, I hear a lot of stories of people watching adult material at work or doing adult activities at work, and I just… I’ve never known anyone personally who would think that’s okay ever. It’s sort of disturbing that the union was normalizing this behavior. Amazingly, millions of grown adults manage to not look at adult material in their office every day!

              1. Else*

                There were some men who did this in their break room at a city utility plant that the city’s law dept had to deal with when I was student working there. They claimed to find it relaxing, I understand. Sitting there. In a group. In a cafeteria. Watching wank on a tv while eating their pb&j. :/

      5. Kiki*

        Yes! I really like this solution (as long as there are plenty of other bathrooms available). I would also double check the security of the building to make sure only people who currently work in the building can access that bathroom— maybe adding a keypad to the door with a code that is changed once a month. A building I used to work at didn’t have an issue with a masturbator, but it did have an issue with drunk people who didn’t work in the building messily using the bathroom. (Word of convenient bathrooms travels fast, I suppose) The code situation resolved the situation immediately.

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          I was also thinking that if the building’s doors are open and this bathroom is in the common area, the culprit could be literally anyone. Of course it would be unlikely that someone habitually goes there if they don’t work there, but there are weird people in this world… The only problem with the code system would be if there are often visitors in the building, it would be quite inconvenient for them.

          1. Just J.*

            Visitors are obviously there visiting someone. They get the key code from the office they are visiting.

            The lobby bathrooms at our HQ have a key pad. We have no issues. (And the key code is changed regularly.)

      6. Bree*

        I would just close that washroom, if possible. I’m imagining it’s a large office building where each floor has its own washrooms but there’s a general use one in the lobby or something. So close this one, if you can, and force the culprit back up to their own floor, where they will be identified.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          I thought that, but the generally open ones in buildings where I’ve worked have been disabled-access ones.

          That said, as it sounds like it’s a specific toilet each time, can they not point cctv at the doorway (in the hall, so as to avoid privacy issues) and then after an offence, go through the video and see who has been in and out.

          That might well identify the suspect, but if not, a few incidents should really narrow it down.

          Then you have a pic to show the companies to ask “is this one of your employees?”

          1. Alli525*

            Yeah, process of elimination (heh) involving hallway cameras is probably the fastest and simplest way to get to a solution. Quietly spread the word to the women in the office that if they ever discover ejaculate in the bathroom to notify you immediately, and you can rewind the tape.

              1. Tupac Coachella*

                I assume because they’re the part of the office population who can be cleared as suspects, assuming that all of the women who work there do not have male genitalia. (This is not a 100% safe assumption, but is likely enough to be true for the logic to hold up.)

      7. BRR*

        I think this is a terrible idea. I’m surprised so many like it. It would cause a huge inconvenience to so many people who are doing nothing wrong. I’d develop a plan for if people hear someone “listening to music.” Who to contact and what you’ll do.

        1. Johnny Tarr*

          It would cause inconvenience, for sure, but if I worked there I would 100% think it was worth it. Not just because of the grossness factor, but also I would also be raging with curiously about which seemingly normal man I knew saw fit to do this at work. Just from a human “wtf?” perspective.

          1. Johnny Tarr*

            Although I will say that I don’t have any sort of bathroom needs that would make this unusually burdensome, and that would probably change my opinion. And I guess at work you wouldn’t necessarily know if someone did. So that is a complication. If I worked there, I would be totally amenable to a specific exception: “Jim has special dispensation to use the women’s room during this investigation. Keep calm and carry on.”

            1. Yorick*

              I do sometimes have to go to the bathroom quickly, but I would be totally ok with the building management closing the nearest bathroom for cleaning after someone left sperm everywhere, especially if they sent an email or posted it somewhere so I knew beforehand.

              1. EddieSherbert*

                Agreed! I *definitely* wouldn’t want to use that bathroom before/during cleaning anyways.

        2. Dana B.S.*

          I think it depends on what LW1 is trying to achieve. Does she just want it to stop? Or does she want to know who is doing it? By trying something like this (and being very overt about it – stir up discussions), it’s possible that the perpetrator could be shamed out of continuing. However, if this doesn’t work, then she knows that this guy is incapable of shame and should absolutely try to catch the guy and get his employer to make a direct disciplinary action.

          As Yorick says, do you want to do you business in a room covered in semen? By telling everyone in advance and posting a sign (again – gossip!), it could prevent issues from having the bathroom unavailable.

          1. BRR*

            I read it differently than Yorick. Obviously it needs to be cleaned and that might involve a long closure. But I read it as closing it for longer than needed as punishment and/or as a way to help deter the offender.

            I have a strong hunch this person doesn’t feel shame about it. Either they’re disgusting and don’t care (I would say evidence to support this is not cleaning up) or they’re getting a thrill out of it. Either way I don’t think closing the bathroom longer than necessary is going to stop it. For whatever reason they’re doing this, I don’t closing the bathroom is going to prevent it from continuing.

            1. Yorick*

              I agree that he either doesn’t care or gets a thrill out of it. But if it’s widely discussed and it becomes bigger than the few people who have been in the bathroom to hear him doing it, he might feel differently about it and stop.

              1. Clorinda*

                Someone in his own office knows who is doing this. Behavior management through social pressure is very effective.

          2. LW1*

            I would like it to stop, and I have been thinking that knowing who is doing it is an important factor in getting it stop… I was generally against sending a mass communication to the entire building about this and was thinking of how to identify the person so I could then identify the company he works for. These comments are convincing me that sending a mass email to everyone isn’t the bad idea I thought it was.

            1. Chatterby*

              Maybe not *everyone*, but to the heads of each business. Because as much as this isn’t your fault, having every single person in the building know about the Masterbation Maurader desecrating the bathrooms is going to give them unpleasant feelings towards their work environment, i.e. your building. Which would damage your reputation. You really don’t want your building to be the one with “that masturbater guy,” it lacks a professional feel.
              I’m also wonder if it wouldn’t add fuel to the fire–the guy obviously enjoys some level of exhibitionism and making people uncomfortable, which would be cranked up to 11 if everyone in the building was suddenly aware.
              Anyways, I’d go with meeting the head representatives if each business, informing them of the situation in a non- accusatory way that enlists them to help, (without starting a witch hunt), telling them rates will go up until the guy is stopped in order to compensate the cleaning staff, and that restrooms found contaminated will be closed for the rest of the day for deep cleaning (which they’ll also need to pay for).
              Then talk to your janitorial staff, acknowledge this is a horrible situation, praise them for doing a good job, and give them raises/bonuses and whatever new cleaning gear they want.

      8. PPMarigold*

        It seems like this might be a bit counterproductive. The masterer sounds both a bit exhibitionist and extremely antisocial. They may enjoy that their actions can have some a big effect on everyone else.

        Isn’t it illegal to masturbate in a public restroom?

      9. FormerFirstTimer*

        I would actually start putting notices in the bathroom where is happens asking that whomever is masturbating to please at least clean up after themselves as they are creating a hazardous situation for anyone else who uses the bathroom. If it continues to happen or moves to another bathroom, put the signs in ALL men’s rooms and if that doesn’t help, put the signs on the outside of the door. I know no one likes notes in the bathroom, but this is disgusting and a little public shaming could go a long way.

        1. Rockin Takin*

          Maybe perhaps put pictures of Jesus in each stall to stare at them? Or a stock photo of a disappointed mom or something? Something that would kill their mood?

        2. PJ*

          Signs on the inside of the stall doors – that would communicate but the question is, Does this guy even care? He might like the thought of people having to deal with his mess. That’s gross, but you have to wonder….

      10. pancakes*

        I don’t have much confidence in this scenario. By design it’s forcing absolutely everyone to “switch restrooms,” and I’m not seeing how or why that would identify anyone. In all likelihood the masturbator would simply hold off for a couple days, then resume his behavior when the situation is back to normal.

      11. soon 2be former fed*

        Nope, some people have medical conditions requiring quick access to the restroom. It is not reasonable to punish those people along with the perp. How can they help figure out who this asshole is? This isn’t grade school. Call in those trained in investigation to look into the matter. Someone is totally out of control of their sexuality at work and needs to be checked.

        1. Baru Cormorant*

          Genuine question, who is trained in this kind of investigation? Who do you call in this situation?

      12. Dana B.S.*

        I like this idea. The sign about the closed restroom does need to make it clear that it wasn’t a stomach bug situation (or the Santa Clarita Diet situation). It definitely needs to call out the inappropriate use and hopefully get people gossiping.

      13. Oxford Comma*

        I normally don’t like the idea of signs, but I think this might work. At the very least, it saves innocent bystanders from having to walk into the toilet to be confronted by ejaculate everywhere.

    4. Just Elle*

      Yeah, I don’t really understand the difficulty IDing him? Also, it seems likely to me that people would self-select out of using a restroom this guy frequents, until basically only this guy and the occasional unsuspecting new guy is left using it?

      1. Cat Fan*

        In a similar post about bathroom issues, didn’t the company have someone checking the bathroom after every single person used it? I think I recall something like that. You’d have to have someone stationed nearby to check all day long, but eventually you’d find your guy.

        1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          We once had a similar issue where we worked. Different, er, mess, but otherwise same. Building management ended up stationing a security camera outside the restroom, so that it filmed arrivals and departures. After complaints, they would review the tape.
          Given that this was the kind of depredation that was going to get reported every time, they were able to narrow down the suspects.

          In this case, with multiple businesses, OP might not know the guy by face, and neither might anyone reporting him. But OP could take footage around to the businesses to ask.

    5. Merci Dee*

      Would it be possible to temporarily have someone in the restroom in question as an attendant? Someone from the maintenance or cleaning staff who is in the restroom at all times (stocking the napkins and toilet paper, sweeping the floor, cleaning the sinks and mirrors, etc.)? Some of the people who reported the music may have walked in halfway through the deed, but having someone in there when the perpetrator arrives may change their mind. Granted, this may just make them move on to a new location, but it would be an option to consider.

    6. Quill*

      Yeah, I’m wondering how many people per bathroom this place has and how audible the music is outside the bathroom? Like, the practical way to identify the culprit would be to key the bathrooms. If he stops, he stops. If not, easy to identify the floor. If all else fails, require the key to be checked out due to “temporary maitenance problems,” look at the log, and say that Mr. Baiter has been checking out the key in conjunction with our cleaning emergencies.

      The main problem would be telling another human being with your human email skills that they need to do something about their employee, Mr. Baiter, who has been creating a biohazard in the men’s bathroom.

    7. AD*

      Run a building wide charity campaign for shelter animals. Put pictures of sad and injured cats and dogs in every bathroom stall.

    8. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Sadly…this sort of situation is in my wheelhouse.

      Here’s the solution.
      1. Keep track of which bathroom it is. Is it a particular bathroom/area of the building or does it move around?
      2. Review who has access to the building. We had someone soil our bathroom this way at work, it was a mentally unwell homeless person from the park next door who asked to use our restroom. It could very well be a delivery person or other subcontract worker who is not a tenant but is allowed in the building.
      3. Frequent drive bys: have people note the time, and report to you ASAP, if they find someone in the bathroom listening to music, they hear someone in the act, or they find fluids left behind. If you have cameras, corroborate against them.
      4. Send an email warning out to all leaseholders (the bosses of the company) telling them what is going on and that when the person is caught they will be banned from the building. We were a membership-based facility and it was full out grounds for termination of your membership. There may be something in your leases that allows leases to be terminated for this behavior.

      Good luck!

      1. Linzava*

        This is definitely the best idea I’ve read here. Our property manager alerts the leaseholders about issues like this. Then we alert the staff. Once the entire building knows, the issue is cleared quick as everyone in the building is on alert. Our office is in an area with a lot of homeless, and body fluids are something the building is used to hearing about. We’ve had multiple alerts about defication in high traffic areas on the property and one employee spat on as she walked to her office.

        1. Linzava*

          Speak of the devil, someone pooped and peed in the stall next to my car today, between 11am and Noon. Broad daylight.

      2. Yikes*

        These are great. Can I add…why not install security cams outside the bathroom doors? Whenever a bathroom is soiled, check the cam. When you are able to confront the guy, show the footage.

      3. Summertime*

        I echo everyone’s sentiment that this seems like the best approach. And I wouldn’t leave any details out of the warning email to the leaseholders. Tell them everything: the fluids, how long it’s been going on, the music, and the poor janitors having to clean this up. It’ll put things into perspective to the tenants that this is a very serious issue, not just a one off situation.

    9. JJ*

      Seems to me like the only thing to do is camp out in another stall and when he starts in just yell “OH MY GOD WTF BRO ARE YOU MASTURBATING?????” hopefully with others in the bathroom who can chime in/act shocked, then dumbfoundedly stare at him as he leaves.

    10. Henchman needs a promotion*

      In the future, please, please, please, LW1 write an update for this letter.
      Also, does your building require people to buzz in/badge in? Because if it an open building, there is a very good chance that the onanist does not even work in your building.

    11. LW1*

      I genuinely have no idea. Probably more than you’d think. I personally hear people talking on their phones / playing games in the stalls on my floor ALL the time.

      There are probably about 3000 people in the building and over 50 floors, which is just one reason why identifying this person is challenging!

  2. Eric*

    #1, maybe an email and sign message would be enough to shame them into stopping. If they don’t realize people know what they are doing, I feel like it is one of the few instances where a sign or note could work.

      1. Yllis*

        Or they like the idea of it. The shaming and/or being _this_ close to getting caught.

        That might be the reason behind doing this at work

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Yep, the same thing happens semi-frequently in store dressing rooms for that reason – part of the appeal is knowing it will be discovered.

        2. hbc*

          Yeah, we had a guy doing wall poop smears and dirty drawings (and sometimes both together) in a ~70 person building, where it was pretty much inevitable that he’d be caught. It didn’t start right away when he came on board, but just about when new hires stop being on their best behavior. He was devastated when they found him out, but I guess he just couldn’t help himself.

          1. HailRobonia*

            “The DNA test revealed that it was the CEO’s poo, but analysis shows the handwriting was the CFO’s…”

          2. Becky*

            This reminds me of the news story from last year (I think) about someone who kept pooping in the football field of a high school.

            1. Iconic Bloomingdale*

              Omg. I remember reading about that. Didn’t it turn out to be the Superintendent of a NJ school district?

      2. Airy*

        Sometimes, though, you do get someone whose idea of what’s normal or okay is just wildly out of step with the norms around them. There could be someone who thinks it’s okay to masturbate in the toilets at work, because a locked cubicle is private, in the same way that there was a guy who wrote in to the AITA reddit to ask if he was wrong to have eaten more than his share of a party sub, and it emerged that he had eaten three feet of double-wide party sub by himself inside of half an hour, and thought this should have been okay because he asked the room in general “Does anyone mind if I finish this off?” and didn’t hear anyone respond. People are astonishing.

        (I also remember someone here arguing that it was okay to look at porn on your own phone at work as long as you were sure no one else saw it, to similar astonishment.)

        None of it means they’re right, but people who behave outrageously aren’t always knowingly outrageous.

        1. Snuck*

          Agreed. I’m kind of squicked out by this …. but not clutching my pearls in horror. I mean… it’s really REALLY gross others are having to clean up after him, it’s kind of fascinating/voyeur/car crash to wonder why he feels the need to do this multiple times a DAY…. but… generally… if a guy wanted to do this vs some other gross stuff people do in a locked cubicle (I’m looking at you the person smearing snot on the walls, or leaving toilet bowls full of poop!)… then… meh. Gross. So very much NOT MY BUSINESS. His performance in his work metrics will be affected or not by the hours he spends in the loo I presume… that’s about it. I hope he washes his hands. UGH. Gross. But not…

          So yeah. I agree. Whatever, people can do their own thing, and some people wont’ see this as ultra gross/weird.

          1. Anon because this is embarrasing*

            I’m similarly fascinated by why he does this … I remember a medicine I took about 20 years ago that was a stimulant and made me SUPER horny all day (at school, at work, etc.). I stopped it in large part because being constantly horny and unable to relieve myself was a really uncomfortable and distracting side effect. Could that be going on? Or are his actions more malevolent / sexually harassing? It sounds like he’s doing this in a private stall so he’s trying to be private about it, but I still think work bathrooms are inappropriate places for sexual activity of any kind, including solo private acts to relieve sexual tension. I’m confused and stumped too … but mostly about why he does this. I hope there is a follow up, though it will probably be hard to determine why he feels the compulsion to do this at work or why he seems to think it’s okay.

              1. Angwyshaunce*

                Agreed. If he took care of himself and cleaned up, it would be a non-issue as nobody would even know.

              2. Becky*

                Well…I’ve known people who think they’ve cleaned something up but, no they really don’t know how to clean.

          2. Parenthetically*

            I’m genuinely surprised at some of these reactions!

            To me, it is blindingly obvious that knowing he’s left his ejaculate behind for others to see is the driving factor for Sir Wanksalot’s actions. I could understand a particularly priapic young new hire relieving his urges a couple times a day in the bathroom, but surely every teenage boy learns at some point to clean up after himself and not leave the surfaces around him looking like the third act of a hentai film?

            That’s what lands this firmly in “Management’s Business, Find This Guy and Escort His Pervy Ass From the Premises” territory, IMO. His masturbation habits are not my business, but nothing about this seems like an innocent mistake to me. Though, frankly, even IF he’s just some raucous, presumptuous frat dude who belongs on r/AITA and is the sort of person who has also never washed a dish or done a load of laundry and just assumes these things get taken care of… I don’t want that jagweed in my building or working for me either.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              I absolutely agree with every word of this!

              Also, “Sir Wanksalot” totally cracked me up!

        2. Beyond Anon*

          We had a guy who didn’t want to leave his study carrel so he was relieving himself in plastic shopping bags and leaving his fluids and waste for the cleaning people. He was eventually caught and although he was a medical student, he didn’t really see what the big deal was.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        Yeah he knows. *If* leaving his …stuff… is not intentional, (big “if” IMO) he doesn’t care. I bet he gets off on the idea that he’s spraying the area and that others have to see/deal with it.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Hehe glad someone got it. I’m not normally “clever” so it’s nice when it gets noticed.

    1. Gingerblue*

      When someone cut their toenails and left the clippings all over the desktop holy fuck what is WRONG with people in a shared office, I wrote a nice thank you for the material for my new curse doll, taped a couple of the nail clippings to the note, and posted it on the wall. I’ve no idea if it actually deterred them, but we never had nail clippings again.

      Not that I’m suggesting anyone collect, ah, samples in this case.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*


        A sign, with a picture of a classical male cursing poppet, with a note “To whoever is leaving spooge all over this stall: Keep it up. Building management needs enough to finish stuffing the poppet”

        But I’m mean like that.

    2. Baru Cormorant*

      I don’t think this would work, and it would certainly unnerve any normal users. But.

      Where I live, often I see these pictures of angry-looking eyes that seem to follow you as you walk past. They’re usually posted by stations, next to stores, and any place where people might misbehave. The idea is that if people see “eyes” they psychologically become aware of who is watching and are less likely to commit crime.

      So post one of these bad boys on the inside of the stall door. See if the creepo continues while these angry kabuki eyes are watching.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        Yeah I’ve seen similar at supermarkets. Full size cardboard cut outs of smiling police officer in a hi vis.

        I mean, you know it’s not real. But the crime rate went down.

        1. Alli525*

          WOW. I’ve never seen that at a supermarket – although when I moved into my current place, my first visit to the local grocery store led me to discover an amusing sign in the produce section saying (I took a photo, so this is verbatim):

          Any help with the arrest of this spice-loving fiend would be greatly appreciated. The cost of hot peppers will be kept down.

          The sign is no longer there, so I assume the bandit has moved on.

      2. DaniCalifornia*

        While it would unnerve the normal users, if this person lacks so much common sense that they are willing to do this in a semi public space (yes a restroom is private but not like your own bathroom in your own house) I question what it could escalate to. If they like the thrill of getting caught I would be even more concerned about safety. I wouldn’t love hearing that from my business owner and agree an email might not stop it but I’d want to be aware of it. In any case those eyes are hilarious!

    3. Anon.*

      Worked with someone who masturbated daily in the shared bathrooms. He listened to music too but wore headphones. He was confronted several times but would always deny it. He was eventually fired. Not for masturbating but for threatening his supervisor with violence. The threat was unrelated to his bathroom activities.

      1. WellRed*

        I think I am not that someone who does this several times a day also has other issues, in this case, threatening violence.

      2. Jim, I'm a doctor not a janitor*

        Hey everyone, Fergus has been fired, anyone want his chair? NOPE.
        How about his stress toys? NOPE

    4. Agnodike*

      I feel like there are pretty much two scenarios where someone is masturbating in a public toilet: they have a compulsion and can’t help themselves, or they are turned on by the potential for discovery. (They might also just have an incredibly poor understanding of social norms, but that seems less likely.) In neither case is shame going to work. In the former, they can’t control the impulse, no matter how badly they feel. In the latter, shaming is a turn-on.

    5. Ama*

      You’d think so, but at an old job when someone started flushing the paper hand towels and clogging the toilets on one particular floor every day, all that happened when an email was sent out was the toilets on a floor that had meeting room space instead of offices started clogging. I guess the culprit was willing to try not to inconvenience their coworkers (the original clogged toilet was on our highest occupancy floor) but was unwilling to just stop flushing the hand towels.

    6. Glitsy Gus*

      We had a situation in our office building where used condoms were found in the Emergency Stairwell and this is basically what our management company did. They sent an email to the Operations Managers (or whoever their contact was) of each company saying point blank “Used condoms and associated bodily fluids” had been found in the stairwells and tenants needed to ensure that none of their employees were the perpetrators and if they were they needed to deal with it. I know the wording because our Operations Manager showed me the email and “used condoms and associated bodily fluids” is not easy to forget. :) (It wasn’t anyone from my company, it was the company that shred the floor with us, though. Ew.)

      That could be a good first step, at least. Email all the tenants and just be blunt. “It has come to our attention that someone in the building is masturbating in the bathroom on a regular basis causing significant disruption and leaving behind associated bodily fluids. This behaviour is inappropriate and a biohazard. Please address this issue with your staff and make sure they understand the need for appropriate behavior in public spaces, including the restrooms.”

      Hopefully that takes care of it. If not you can start the stakeouts and locking restrooms if necessary. Don’t be afraid to be blunt, it’s gross but it isn’t something that you need to pussyfoot around. You can be blunt and still professional.

      1. Infinity*

        I like this wording, but am wondering how intense some company’s email filters are and if actually stating “masturbating” might get the emails caught in SPAM? I’m all for just using the actual words, masturbation and semen, but you also want your email to get through to the recipients.

  3. Glad I Don’t Work There!*

    Email seems like the best route, especially if the restroom is used by visitors as well as employees.

  4. nnn*

    I wonder if the perpetrator in #1 would stop if everyone started knocking on the door saying “Are you okay in there?”

    If this were a work of fiction, they’d announce at a general meeting that samples of the bodily fluids atypical for an office environment have been sent to a lab for DNA testing, then the culprit would give himself away with his facial expression. Unfortunately, IRL, you’d probably get a range of people making a variety of odd facial expressions given the subject matter.

    1. Coworkers, gotta love 'em*

      Post a sign: “Recently, bodily fluids have been deposited in the bathroom. Management has concluded this is a desperate Cry For Help. Fluids have been collected and sent to [commercial ancestry DNA testing company], and the results will be sent to the identified relatives as soon as possible. Hang In There! Help Is On The Way!”

      Actually sending DNA to company completely optional. >:-D

      1. Auntie Social*

        “And just because the pictures aren’t of your faces doesn’t mean we can’t identify you. At this very moment those pictures are on their way to Washington where the FBI has experts in this type of identification. If you turn yourself in now, you may escape a federal charge.”

        1. Isabel Kunkle*

          I really, really want that to have been an actual FBI unit. I know it wasn’t, but I would watch FBI: Butt Profiler Division every time CBS aired it.

      2. Bilateralrope*

        The police have caught people that way. The perpetrators DNA wasn’t in any database. But one of those ancestry companies did have his second cousin, which let them significantly reduce the number of possible suspects.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        Ooohhh you know this isn’t that far fetched. Not actually doing it but threatening to ID him through familial DNA.

        Maybe even pointing out that they will be using the same DNA process that ID’d the Golden State Killer… Scare him into keeping it zipped.

      4. Anonymouse*

        This is made somehow even funnier imagining it at my workplace because literally right next door is the HQ for a well known commercial DNA testing company. I can now imagine somebody taking a sample and walking next door to try to explain it to the receptionist there.

    2. Pidgeot*

      Or you say that you got them sent to the lab and the culprit has a rare form of then see who’s at their desk in a panic googling it afterwards.

    3. ToS*

      I was going to suggest this – interrupt! annoy! wreck the illusion of total privacy, especially since this is affecting a building full of people.

      If it’s a multi-stall situation, have everyone say “Could you NOT!”

      And I’ll second that people have odd ideas about what’s OK, and some people who are on the spectrum (diagnosed or not) and need to be told – what happens at home is your business, but if you are making a mess or your bodily fluids and leaving it for others to find and not cleaning it up, or watching porn in a stall at work – that needs to stop. We know that emergency health situations happen, this is a pattern.

      For dealing with it, put a lock on the door. Check out keys from reception areas with the time noted, so the janitor’s cleanup can bring this back to an employer/resident business based on timing. Cameras outside the door can also help track people going in and out. If it’s a non-employee – this is why many shared restrooms have key access.

      1. Some people are like that*

        I don’t think the perpetrator minds not having total privacy; indeed, I think that is a motivating factor.

        1. Allya*

          There’s a huge difference, though, between the illicit thrill of the idea you might be discovered and having Joe from the mail room banging on your door going “What the actual fuck, bro? Some of us are trying to poop here.”

          It wouldn’t hold true for everyone, but many, many people would find the allure of the fantasy crushed by facing the harsh reality of actually being caught and held accountable.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Emergency health stuff is one thing but honestly in going on six decades on the planet I have never heard of an emergency need to jerk off…anywhere, much less at work.

      3. AKchic*

        I am trying to imagine under what circumstance an erection can be considered an “emergency health situation”; and why it would, at any point be necessary to warrant the “need” to masturbate in a communal bathroom in an office building for “medicinal purposes” (to follow that line of thinking).

        No erection is ever an “emergency health situation” in an office unless it’s lasted longer than 3-4 hours, in which case, the person should be heading to the hospital, not grabbing their ipod and running to the nearest toilet for some private time.

    1. Snuck*

      Or a number that’s yours, that you forward to the work phone… just used for job applications… with a call forward feature… then when you leave the company and hand your phone in you can use that number into the future on whatever new phone you buy…? (Or divert it to another number if you want to, or cancel it)

        1. TootsNYC*

          I have a Google Voice number, which I got because my first cell phone got rained on and ruined, and I realized that having the phone itself be the source of the number was a bad idea.

          I think I got it first because I was contemplating going freelance, and I knew I could program it to forward to whatever place I was working at that day. Then the cell phone died, and I had to get a completely new number, and I decided it was best to have a Google Voice number.

          I now have a company-issued smartphone, and we all similarly use it for work, so that means I can keep my personal number if I ever leave.

      1. Zephy*

        It sounds like OP2 gets to keep the hardware when they leave, they’d just need a new number/SIM card/whatever. That’s also something they should probably check on.

    2. Sacred Ground*

      Or not a cheap one. LW2 knows they’ll be losing the phone when they leave and is planning to leave soon. So, since they will have to replace the phone anyway, do it now rather than later.

  5. My Dear Wormwood*

    “Bodily fluids atypical for an office environment”

    I’m sorry, I have no advice, but I am dying laughing at your delivery. Thank God it’s my work from home day.

    1. Marthooh*

      Well done, indeed! And a tip o’ the hat to Alison for the “violating our bathroom” headline.

  6. Still Here*

    Might be legal issues (aren’t there always!) but video cameras in the hallway outside the washroom room would likely work. Either as a deterrent or as a source of info… if your staff check the washroom regularly you’ll be able to see who is using it and be able to see who shows up every time. Now, what you do when you ID the culprit…..

    1. Mathilde*

      Oh, God, no. I don’t care if someone if plastering the walls, I don’t want to be filmed going into the loo, and monitored to see if I am long enoug for a quickie or just a poo. That is just a next-level of surveillance there.

      And anyway, you will just have people going into the loo, not your answer.

      1. Thomasina*

        M’eh. Our loos are in the reception area and you are monitored both by the fact the receptionist sits at a desk in reception and a CCTV camera monitoring what goes on in reception. It’s a ‘public’ area in a secure building, IE there are many floors, each floor has it’s own loos but the business doesn’t own the loos. Most people would only use the ones that go with their floor but the option exists to do otherwise. I’ve never carried about this level of monitoring as no one is going to review the footage unless something happens (like this issue) and everyone goes to the toilet. Most people aren’t going to care when, how long or how often you go and it’s unlikely to stick in their mind 2 seconds after you go back to your desk. In this case they could narrow down the perp by reviewing the footage on days the mess occurs and listing the people who went into that loo on that day. They could even step up clean checks until the person is caught and be able to narrow down the window of time by reporting a mess and reviewing the footage to see who went in on a couple of reassurances.

        1. Mathilde*

          Yes, but this particular camera would be monitored specifically for the purpose of being examined.

          We also have a camera happening to be in the corridor going to the loo at work, I don’t even think about it. But I would absolutely be uncomfortable if someone installed one which wasn’t there before in order to see how many times a day I go in, for how long, and try to deduce stuff about my habits.

          1. hbc*

            But they’re not using it to go “Okay, let’s see what Mathilde is doing bathroom-wise, and then we’ll find out what Fergus is doing.” I’m assuming they would have a physical bathroom inspection at 10:00 that showed it was clean, then one at 11:00 that was…not, and then review the tapes to see all the people who went in during that time. And then in the next time block, cross-reference until they get one possible offender.

              1. Alli525*

                I think that maybe “constant ejaculate in the office bathroom” makes more people in that office uncomfortable than the temporary installment of a hallway camera.

                1. Thomasina*

                  Yeah and your movements (around the building not in the loo) at work are free for work to track as long as you’re aware they’re doing it. They’re not bothered how often you go in there as long as you’re not leaving your personal fluids all over the walls. Like poo as much as you need but don’t splatter stuff that doesn’t belong in the office on the walls or floor multiple times a day and expect it not to trigger an investigation.

                  If your work has a camera in sight of the bathroom door they can already review your visits if they want to. The point is the people with access to the camera likely have way better things to do with their time and would only bother doing the review with a reason. IE between 10 and 11 the person making the biohazzard mess went into the toilets as the 10am check was clean and the 11am check was not.

                  I think the building manager also has to step up checks and hope to hear the ‘music’ themselves so they can wait the person out and confront them/report them to the relevant business/manager.

                2. Sacred Ground*

                  And yes, it can be a hallway camera that just happens to pick up that door among others , not a bathroom camera pointed directly at that one door.

              2. Parenthetically*

                I get this objection, I do. But given the frequency of this guy’s activities, we’re talking about keeping a camera in place outside of ONE BATHROOM for a day or two and then being removed. I’m happy to use a different one during that time, and frankly it’s fine by me if the camera captures me once or twice heading in or out as long as it means I never again have to be confronted with a coworker’s ejaculate when I go in for a pee.

            1. AnnaBananna*

              Eh, but your argument is merely intention vs perception. One is infinitely more powerful (the latter). Sorry!

      2. Wired Wolf*

        Our customer bathroom used to have a dome camera on the ceiling in the stall aisle O_o (I first noticed the camera last year; the mounting ring is still in place but the camera itself is gone). Even if it was just aimed toward the sink area isn’t that illegal? Maybe they removed it after a raft of “camera found in restroom!” perv stories hit the news…but why was it there in the first place?

          1. Wired Wolf*

            It sure looked like the rest of the dome cameras…if it was a motion sensor why would it be taken out? AFAIK the restroom lights are always on/possibly controlled from the main office; I don’t see any usable light switches. Our entire space used to be the mall food court, so I could see them wanting a camera on the common sink area (we still do have problems with quasi-homeless individuals using the sinks to wash up).

      3. ToS*

        I think you are forgetting the context, this is a variation of managing company property. No one will bat an eye at people using the loo for its primary purpose. They will be tracking Bathroom OK X time, Bathroom OK Y Time, Bathroom not OK Z time, who was in the bathroom between Y and Z?

    2. Liar Liar Pants Dracarys*

      I was thinking the same thing. My company has cameras absolutely everywhere in the building except in bathrooms and the offices of the underlings. (Higher ups even have panic buttons.) Now, we’re in an industry that can warrant the use of those cameras and the 24/7 team tucked away in Castle Greyskull watching the footage to assess safety. (It’s really handy when I’ve left my badge in locked areas–I call, they see me, they buzz the door open.)

      So, cameras. Get them. Or at least put a note in the bathroom stating (whether true or not) that there are cameras in the halls outside the bathrooms and the footage is being recorded and viewed in real time until the culprit is found. “Once identified, appropriate action will be taken.”

    3. RKMK*

      Not to get all Veronica Mars, but that was my thinking, too – regular cleaning checks to minimize the window, a camera that captures the hallway, and installation of keypad locks on bathrooms (and/or installation of fobs). Check the tapes during the narrowed window, see which office code was used to enter the bathroom, inform that office or walk around to ID the person first.

      I worked in a large office building and everyone was issued a security card for elevator and after-hours access. Something like that could be used for the bathroom doors, but I did find that people lost their card, often borrowed other people’s cards, etc.

    4. Agnodike*

      Sorry, no. Better that a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent worker has their bathroom usage surveilled. I think slowing the metamorphosis of the workplace into the workhouse is probably a good idea.

    5. LW1*

      This is a hilarious idea but wouldn’t be feasible in my situation. Cameras are expensive! And I can’t get a cheap one and just tack it on the ceiling. This is supposed to be a Class A facility (LOL).

    6. librarian*

      We have cameras in the hallways outside restrooms in the university library I work in. I don’t think employees think twice about it. incidentally, we have one floor with no men’s room at all–closed permanently because of exactly this kind of nonsense. (the restrooms are open to the public, so there’s no concern that it’s an employee)

  7. nnn*

    Actually, a possible engineering solution for #1 might be to require a fob or access card to unlock the washroom. Each employee is issued their own fob (or if you already use access cards for the office, you could use those) and you have an electronic record of who entered when.

    That way, employees don’t have to go to someone to get a key every time they want to go to the washroom, but you can still narrow down who was in the washroom around the time of the incident.

    This is a bit of an invasion of employee privacy, but making this stop might require an invasion of employee privacy…

    1. YetAnotherUsername*

      Those systems are a lot more expensive than you would think and would probably upset a lot of employees.

    2. JessaB*

      It may also be a disability law issue, knowing how many times someone goes to the bathroom can trigger an ADA issue even if the person is not disabled, because ADA covers “people perceived to be” because those people often are unconsciously discriminated against absent any proof there’s anything wrong.

      1. IndoorCat*

        Possibly, but I’ve worked in a place where the bathroom had to be signed in and out of for vague security reasons, and it didn’t cause me a problem as a disabled person, even though I sometimes had to use the restroom more than is normative.

        On the other hand, my disability is at least partially visible, so not disclosing my disability was never an option. And, eventually I did need to change to a work-from-home job because my health worsened. That’s a bit of a tangent I guess, but my point is I don’t think this bathroom policy would lead to someone being unfairly discriminated against if they otherwise wouldn’t be. I mean, I think if discrimination over perceived disproportionate bathroom use (or use of sick days, or other accommodations people get judgey over) isn’t already happening, then a bathroom sign-out policy won’t evoke it.

        1. ToS*

          Agreed. No one is saying anything bad will happen for people who use the bathroom in a routine manner (not leaving unusual bodily fluids) Realistically, taking a break to go to the bathroom is observable without a camera, so frequency is what it is. We’re not creating a situation with supervisors about frequency, it’s timing for when the bathroom is a left a mess, that is being handled by a business that manages the building.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        But if the only viewer of that data is the office building administrator, they are not anywhere in the employee’s reporting chain and have no impact on their treatment at work.

        If it takes actual, literal tracking to notice that someone is using the bathroom a lot (as opposed to just noticing that they are away from their desk a lot), they’re not being “perceived” as anything. And in this case, the “perception” is that if they go to the bathroom a lot, they’re masturbating in the office, which to my knowledge is not an ADA protected disability (and even if there is an ADA protected disability to be concerned with here, I don’t think “leaving your jizz all over” is a reasonable accommodation by any stretch of the imagination).

      3. Yorick*

        It wouldn’t be a disability law issue if they were allowed to keep using the bathroom when they needed to

      4. Glitsy Gus*

        The vast majority of places I’ve worked have had some kind of lock on the bathroom that required a fob or a key from reception. Given how common it is I can’t imagine this could be viewed as a violation. You aren’t stopping them from using the restroom, and it isn’t keeping a tally, just a standard audit log which is pretty normal for fob systems.

    3. Mathilde*

      This is a bit of an invasion of employee privacy, but making this stop might require an invasion of employee privacy…
      Not only is it probably not enforcable, but really… is it worth the erosion of employee privacy ?
      Emphatic NO.

    4. OhGee*

      Hard pass for privacy reasons, plus it’d entail spending piles of money to — maybe — catch the office masturbator.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        And once the office masturbator is caught, the cameras aren’t going away. Sooner or later, someone will get the idea of keeping track of bathroom use, since the cameras are already there. Nope nope nope.

      2. LW1*

        Yes. And I don’t have piles of money to spend on this. In fact, I have no money to spend on this!

    5. Rose's angel*

      I am curious why many see this as an invasion of privacy. My company did just this when people were found doing drugs in the bathroom. They were coming from the coffee shop next door. I agree that this is an option. An expensive one but an option.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        But that sounds designed to keep non-employees out of the employee bathroom, rather than to identify who is in there when.

    6. Michelenyc*

      We have to use our building badge to access the restroom on our floor. At first it was annoying but you get used to it after a couple of weeks.

    7. pancakes*

      I’ve worked in several buildings that had that sort of set-up — a firm that occupied multiple floors in a large building where you’d have to wave your ID card over a pad in the elevator to be allowed access to the floor, for example, or offices where security fobs were required to enter case rooms litigation teams were working in. It could be expensive to set up for a building that doesn’t presently have this level of security, and in an area where it’s not as common as it is in, say, midtown Manhattan, there might not even be a local business that provides that sort of thing. A simple lock and key arrangement might be a deterrent, but wouldn’t actually identify who was in possession of a key at a particular time of day. There’d have to be multiple keys for each bathroom if they have stalls.

      1. BlueWolf*

        Yes, pretty common in large office buildings. I have to use my badge to access any door (including bathrooms) or elevator in our building.

    8. texan in exile*

      I was a lifeguard at a city pool when I was in college. There were some boys who were defecating on the bathroom floors.

      Part of the lifeguard job description was to clean the bathrooms (at $3.35/hour).

      We tried locking the bathrooms and issuing the key on request, but the city came back to us and told us we could not do that. So – the other lifeguards and I spent a summer literally cleaning sh*t.

      1. pancakes*

        Urgh. That ought to be something that instantly merits hazard pay! For all retail workers too, as a matter of federal law. People are messes and it’s only fair.

    9. LW1*

      I don’t dislike this idea (the building issues everyone fobs anyway), but YetAnotherUsername is right that those systems are expensive. It probably costs around $2k per door, and we’re talking 100+ doors.

      But I do like the idea of locking them in some fashion, even if it’s just a traditional lock and key. Thanks for the idea!

  8. Lilith*

    I just can’t imagine the balls it would take to whack off at work. The mind is blown. (so many innuendos, sorry)

    1. Paperdill*

      Cracking up at the innuendo!
      But seriously, maybe I am being way too open minded, here, but…I can totally understand the occasional (OCCAISIONAL!) jerk at work. Stress relief, renewal of focus…all those things the big O is beneficial for. But it really should be conducted quietly, hygeniy, subtley and infrequently.
      The bit that concerns me in this story is the frequency, the fact that the perpetrator is being so blatant that it is apparently audible and obvious what is going on and the fact that they aren’t event trying to clean up after themselves. That behaviour, to me, suggests something a lot more sinister, even predatory.
      I’m on team “consult local police” for advice with this one. It has something dark about it.

      1. aebhel*

        Yeah, I’m not especially bothered that he does it at *all*, just that it’s apparently both frequent and blatant AND resulting in a mess that other people need to clean up, which, NO.

      2. RKMK*

        Yeah, that he’s doing it in the bathroom but seems to pointedly choose *not* to politely flush the evidence seems like a red flag for bigger problems.

      3. Marthooh*

        Stress relief? Renewal of focus? Nonsense! These goshdarn millennials need to learn that when a problem comes along, you must whip it.

  9. Logic*

    Most offices have cameras in hallways – it might be alittle time consuming but worth the effort to look back through video whenever um a deposit is found. Same guy within a few minutes in a few instances should narrow it down. Then please don’t let HR defend his rights.

    1. Miss May*

      I’d second this approach. A bit time consuming, but at the price of putting locks on every bathroom door in the building…

  10. Possum*

    #1 – As far as how the masturbator’s manager should address it, I don’t think you need to call him out on the masturbating. I’d stick to the known facts and how it’s affecting other people. Something like: “I don’t need to know what you’re doing in there, but the amount of noise is making people uncomfortable and you’re leaving a gross mess behind.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it would matter that he’s doing it if he were to do it in such a way that no one can tell he’s doing it.

      1. XOE*

        Which means people can tell. If he didn’t make any noise or leave any mess, no one would know what he was doing in there.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Normally I would agree, but I think it has to be spelled out here. There’s something very specifically problematic that goes beyond the range of acceptable workplace bathroom activities.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I’d say that if they were quick about it and quiet and cleaned up after themself, I wouldn’t care what they did in the stall.

        That said, I worked in a movie theater when I was in high school and I cannot begin to tell you how much ejaculate I cleaned up every night after the shows. You’d think that would be beyond what you’d ask of a minimum wage teenager but apparently “coming” to the theater is a thing and that thing needs to be cleaned up. This was just a regular cinema, too. The highest rated movies were R and the last show started at 9pm so hardly a den of inequity. And yet, night after night, gee whiz! So maybe I’m just a little inured to finding spunk where one wouldn’t expect it.

        Of course, this person *isn’t* cleaning up after the act which, in my opinion does make it a problem that needs solving. I would bet my hat that people who work there know, or at least strongly suspect, who the culprit is. Maybe effort should be put into getting those people to cough up the name(s).

        1. Baru Cormorant*

          I don’t think we should let someone who jerks off in public think that it’s OK as long as no one knows about it.

          Clearly their standards of what is acceptable in public are off so why trust their judgment? Let’s not allow it “as long as no one finds out.” Because then you’re just putting the onus on someone finding out for them to know it was too much.

          Sharing a bathroom while someone is doing that is sexual harassment, in my opinion.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I’d argue that leaving body fluids behind is sexual assault. I think it’s probably intentional which makes it concerning. There’s a …violence…aspect here that I cant quite put my finger on.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                I can see what RUKM is getting at – we’ve had letters before about bringing unwilling/unwitting third parties into a sex act, and how that’s Not Cool, and I think this falls under this umbrella.

                I think Alison is stumped because of the mystery, not the nasty behaviour. I imagine she would have found it easier (though not easy) to answer if the letter had been “Fergus regularly masturbates in the gents and leaves a recognisable mess behind”.

              2. Harper the Other One*

                Deliberately exposing someone else to semen is (legally) sexual assault in some areas, just like exposing yourself to someone is. That’s not the same as saying that it’s of the same severity as physically contacting someone else in a sexual assault.

                But RUKiddingMe’s feelers are up because it’s also an aggressive action that can be part of an escalation pattern towards violence of some description. Even the most deviant/criminal people “work their way up” to more violent acts.

                TL;DR information about this should be shared with at least some people in the building, because this is gross on the face of it, but if there’s a guy in the building who’s shown an unhealthy fascination with someone, expressed extreme anger at work, etc.
                this behaviour immediately goes from “gross” to “potentially alarming.”

                1. Mathilde*

                  I already made my point elsewhere, so I won’t go over it too long, but I think the analogy is dubious.
                  It is not targeted. There is no sexual act performed at anyone here. It is, like poop in a toilet bowl, disgusting and disrespectul. But assault ? No.

                  I think the distinction is important for several reasons :
                  – It doesn’t really help the OP, because they can’t really do anything about this. They are (rightfully) concerned about the mess.
                  – I am not saying this behaviour is okay, but I think jumping straight to a criminal analysis is a mistake, especially because there are other explanations (cheer stupidity, unprofessionalism, sexual addiction…), none of which would be helped or resolved by bringing the police into it. I also think this could infringe on the other employee’s freedom (cameras, monitoring of the bathroom usage…).

                  You might right that there is something sinister behind this behaviour. But really, you don’t know, I don’t know, and since nothing else has happened, I don’t think this warrant to jump straight to punitive measures.

                2. Kaitlyn*

                  @Mathilde, I agree that it’s not sexual assault, but it is a sex crime: deliberately exposing non-consenting people to semen when they otherwise wouldn’t be.

              3. OhGee*

                Agree. It’s gross and alarming to some, but calling this sexual assault or even violent is way off.

              1. JSPA*

                Depends. If he does it in a way that’s calculated to get onto other people–paraphilia, not thoughtlessness–that changes the implications.

                I worked someplace where someone left used tampons inside the core of the “active” TP roll.

                That’s not an “oops” or a miscalculation. That’s, “one of you will touch my bloody tampon and then need to figure out a way to wipe yourself before leaving the stall and washing your hand.”

                Someone else, somewhere else, smeared what I had to hope was just vaseline all over the flush lever. (And you ask why women flush that sort of toilet with their feet.) Another place had a pooper. In the toilet, but still, always happening on that same perfect log, unflushed, felt creepy. “Someone around me is unable to control an urge to show others their poop” is not like scooping the cat box, or the general grossness of a toilet needing cleaning.

                (I have no idea how either of these things were dealt with.)

            1. Cranky Neighbot*

              This is definitely not assault. You don’t have to label it as assault to recognize how bad it is.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                It *feels* like assault to *me.* How anyone else *feels* is their business.

                Leaving semen all over the place, intentionally (and yeah, this is intentional) is a desire to force others into contact with it against their will.

                If Dude walked up to someone and sprayed his dick juice on the it would be assault and violent. This is only marginally different.

      2. Samwise*

        Agreed. It’s sexual behavior at work, and it’s done in a way that people know that it’s happening (to my mind, that indicates that the person doing it wants people to know it’s happening) and it creates a mess (again, indicates that the perpetrator is marking his territory) that the janitors should not have to clean up. It’s not like someone who’s got IBS.

        I don’t have male gear myself, but I do know that if you *want to*, you can do your biz pretty quietly and you can aim it into the toilet. And you can definitely wipe up anything that misses the mark.

        1. Isabel Kunkle*

          Agreed: I’ve, er, had my hands on a few in my time, and aiming is possible, plus, um, there’s paper *right there*.

          In general, I’d agree that the “people know it’s happening” is the real line. A previous job a few years back involved some serious downtime, and yes, I would spend some of that downtime occasionally checking out fairly explicit fanfic or sending sexy texts to let’s-call-them-“friends” on my own phone. It wasn’t the most professional behavior, but I didn’t care that much about the job and, more importantly, I was pretty sure nobody would know (it was my own phone, nobody was in a position to walk by and see anything over my shoulder about Thor and Jane and the handcuffs, I wasn’t breathing heavily or anything while I read, etc). If someone had indicated that they knew about any of it, I’d have been super embarrassed and probably stopped, or at least changed my habits to make them harder to encounter.

          The professional ethics of (physically or mentally) getting off at work aside, it is incredibly easy to make sure nobody else finds out about it. Jerky Jerker is doing the opposite of that, which indicates nothing good about him.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          IIRC teenaged boys have been hiding their activities from their moms for a long time, and a bathroom has plenty of appropriate material. Leaving ejaculate sprayed around for others to see and clean up is _involving other people in the wanker’s sexual act against their will_, and is at the very least sexual harassment.

    2. Sled dog mama*

      This is almost the answer I was expecting from Alison.
      Masturbating at work is gross and should stop but the real issue that can be addressed (at least without having to get into a very strange place) is the leaving a mess, of any type, in the bathroom.
      At least this is what I came up with by applying the “Alison method”
      Question 1) how does this affect me?
      Question 2) how does this affect the person’s work? (I can see that there might be a case that the person is spending enough time in the bathroom to affect performance but then this moves out of the realm a building manager can address)

      1. Holly*

        Except it *is* impacting the custodial staff’s work in a real way. It’s inappropriate to expose custodial staff to sexual fluids. This IS a workplace issue. Custodians are colleagues.

          1. Sled dog mama*

            Which is exactly what I said. The thing that can be addressed is leaving a mess of any kind in the bathroom.

            1. Parenthetically*

              I think it’s SO STRANGE to pretend like this is some bro being run-of-the-mill inconsiderate with his potty habits. He’s not peeing on the seat or clogging the toilet, for crying out loud, and he shouldn’t be treated like he is. The most obvious explanation is that this guy is getting off on knowing that everyone who walks in after he has a wank is going to see his ejaculate on the wall of the stall. “You’re leaving behind a mess, naughty naughty” doesn’t begin to touch it. “You have repeatedly exposed your coworkers to the sounds of your masturbation, and have knowingly left behind ejaculate on many occasions. This is bringing others into your sex life without their consent” is ALMOST serious enough. He’s one very small step behind the guy who masturbates in the subway.

      2. Parenthetically*

        3) How does it affect their coworkers?

        I don’t care at all how long they’re spending in the bathroom three times a day for their wank. The fact that they’re leaving behind ejaculate for their colleagues to find and for custodial staff to clean up puts this behavior way over the line.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It shouldn’t be tiptoed around. The mess is only part of the issue. It’s a deliberate act and is much deeper than “ew a mess”.

      It’s a biohazard for starters.

      And anything sexually based is leading towards lawsuit areas if you find out who it is and just say “tsk tsk you’re making a mess in there, quit it.” If they are allowed to continue but start cleaning up. Yet others still hear it. That’s just like if you were allowing someone to subject others to porn watching. That’s illegal.

      1. Possum*

        Yeah, after the responses to my original comment, my position is evolving. He’s been inappropriately sexualizing the workplace. If I were his manager, I would still probably give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t realize other people were aware of what he was doing (so it’s more of a “this is your only warning” situation, rather than a “pack your things” situation), but I’d be talking to HR about the company’s legal responsibility here.

  11. Startup HR*

    LW1 – I’m assuming that this situation could count as sexual harassment. If you found out who was doing it, you’d approach the guy’s company from that angle. As in, “one of your employees is creating a hostile work environment in the building because of his activities and needs to stop now.”

      1. Approval is optional*

        Those who overhear him. The legal definition of sexual harassment per the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) [Australia] includes,
        ‘..or, engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the person harassed; in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.’,
        so I would say the activity outlined by the LW would possibly meet the criteria here.

        1. Mathilde*

          But the OP says they just hear music. Or maybe the person is listening to music (with earplugs) ? It is not clear from the post. But the OP doesn’t say that sexual sounds can be heard, though.
          I don’t think that would count as sexual harassment. Even if the music can be heard, it is linked to the wanking, but it doesn’t make it sexual.

          1. Approval is optional*

            I assumed (possibly incorrectly) that they knew he was masturbating while listening to music because they could hear the relevant sounds – otherwise how would they know it was being done by the same person who listened to music?

            1. Mathilde*

              You might be right.
              I understood differently : that they deduced it from the mess left behind, and realised that it might be the person listening to music (on speaker, or maybe from the sound overflowing from earplugs).

              In any case… this is really tricky and I think a sexual harassment case would have a hard time sticking.

              1. Approval is optional*

                Pun intended? :)
                I agree it’s not an open and shut case – but, in Australia, a complaint about it would be enough to kick start an investigation IMO.

                1. Mathilde*

                  It was indeed intended. ;)

                  I am in France, and I really don’t think this would be enough to start an investigation here. Different cultures, I guess…

                  I don’t know, I really think the issue here is mostly the mess. It is not okay, and I agree it should be resolved. There might be some other issues at play, but is they are mental ones, the OP can’t do anything about it, and if there are work related, the company probably already knows and has the standing to act on it.

              2. Yorick*

                I think the people complaining about it (who mentioned music) are separate from the janitors who have found the mess left behind

              3. Curmudgeon in California*

                If the janitorial crew has any women on it it is definitely sexual harassment: making one of those women clean up his spooge as part of her job.

          2. LW1*

            I’ll try to clarify what I meant – I have never witnessed this happening personally. I don’t use the men’s room. Several people in the building have complained to my office (and have also stated they don’t know who it is or what he looks like – I have certainly asked). These people have said he listens to music – I don’t know how they’d know, but I assume it’s earplugs turned up loud enough for others to hear? I admittedly have not asked if they hear sexual noises.

      2. Isabel Kunkle*

        The janitorial staff, at least, who I assume did not sign up for having to clean up spooge in an office environment, and also anyone who goes in there between him and the aforementioned staff.

        I don’t know if it’s a legal thing or not–may depend on your country, and I seem to remember the True Porn Clerk Diaries talking about getting tapes back that were, er, contaminated, and never being in a position to press charges (unlike the store whackers, what the hell is wrong with people?) but that was also a few decades ago, and laws about involving other people in your sex life without consent may have evolved since.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Literally this exact thing is talked about in sexual harassment training in this country. Including the lawyer presenting it talking about cases where this resulted in lawsuits if the person isn’t terminated.

    1. Karou*

      Yes – there was a recent case in Canada like this. From what I remember from the news article — I don’t dare google it now to find it again — the culprit was ultimately fired for sexual harassment because he subjected his coworkers to his bathroom noises and didn’t stop despite being warned (they knew who it was, though).

      1. RKMK*

        Also not using the readily available toilet to neatly flush the evidence away/cleaning up any “accidents.””

  12. Aphrodite*

    OP #1, is this specifically in a men’s restroom or is the restroom for anyone?

    If the latter, I, a woman, would refuse to use any restroom in the building, considering this not just horrifying but filthy and damnably close to assault. I’d put pressure on my employer to put pressure on you to get this stopped–and finding out, as others have said, may require some extreme and otherwise invasive techniques. It’s so beyond the pale that I’d quit my job if it wasn’t handled immediately–and by that I mean discovering the person responsible quickly and firing them immediately

    One thing worth considering is when this started. If it’s a new thing then asking all employers in that building to list their new employees (males, I am assuming here) might help. But whatever is done needs to be done swiftly.

    1. JessaB*

      The other end of that is even if it is a gender specific restroom for men, it can still be sexual harassment, because men do that to men, and also, possible spread of social diseases? YUCK

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Agreed, but as a woman I see it from my perspective *as* a woman a d like Aphrodite if it’s a shared gender bathroom I consider it damn close to if not outright assault. Just reading about this makes me feel threatened.

    2. Mathilde*

      If the latter, I, a woman, would refuse to use any restroom in the building, considering this not just horrifying but filthy and damnably close to assault
      1) If this is close to assault, it doesn’t make a difference whether this is in a men or a women’s bathroom.
      2) It is no more assault than when I hear my neighbours going at it loudly.
      3) It is definitely gross, weird and worrying for the person. It might possibly grounds for disciplinary measures (although even that, I am not sure), especially is there are other issues. But let’s not throw around the word assault like that.

      1. Jack be Nimble*

        I think we’ve identified a cultural difference, here. In the US, public masturbation is outside of the norm in a way that seems aggressive and pointed. In the workplace, it’s harassment simply on the grounds that it’s creating a sexualized environment. I don’t know if it meets the legal bar for assault, but I don’t know that it doesn’t. The company would be well within their rights to terminate the employee, and I’d imagine the building could easily get a no trespass order.

          1. Jack Be Nimble*

            I guess I was thinking about instances like the Louis C.K. case — to me, masturbating in a public place and leaving evidence for someone else to find feels pretty similar to masturbating in a public place and coercing someone into watching (which I think people might colloquially consider an act of sexual assault, even if it doesn’t fulfill the legal/criminal definition of assault).

            Out of curiosity, I checked my local laws, and the acts described by the LW could be variously considered indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, and “open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior.” I don’t think it’s a stretch to call it a criminal act or an act of aggression, and I think a lot of people would feel sexually violated knowing that it was happening in their workplace. That’s not to say that I think the LW should involve law enforcement, but I think it’s worth pointing out that it’s not just gross, but illegal on multiple fronts.

        1. Mathilde*

          Oh, public masturbation is definitely a crime where I come from too.

          But this is not public, though.

          1. Jack Be Nimble*

            A publicly accessible bathroom in an office building is public. It doesn’t matter that you’re in a stall with a lock, and it wouldn’t matter if they were doing it in private office with a locking door or in their car in the parking lot — all of those spaces are private in some ways, but since they’re not your home, it’s too public for sex acts during the workday.

            1. Mathilde*

              Public in this case means in front of other people, not opened to the public.

              If I take off my trousers in the parking lot, it is indecent exposure. In a public bathroom, it is not.

              Sorry, but the fact that a loo is by definition private, even if it is not mine per se, changes everything. There is still a problem in this situation, and it is the mess left behind (and possibly the fact that this guy is spending time slacking off). No need to try and make it criminal, there is still something to be dealt with.

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                If you go into a public bathroom and whip it out to do more than piss, yes it is illegal. I can’t just go lay nude in a chair I’ve set up in the mall bathroom and say “it’s private, maaaaan” when the cops are called.

                1. LJay*

                  I mean you could hang out nude in the bathroom stall all you wanted and that would be fine.

                  But then having sex in the bathroom stall at the mall would not be fine. So I’m inclined to go with the “not fine” option on this.

            2. Approval is optional*

              I think that depends how the law in your neck of the woods defines it – I asked a friend who is a prosecutor (the same as an Assistant DA) and he says (paraphrased) that where we live, if the public don’t have free access to the building then it isn’t, legally, a public place. So if there is restricted access to the building and he can’t be seen from a public place, he is ‘most likely’ not committing an offence.

              1. Mathilde*

                Oh that’s interesting ! Thank you for this piece of ino.

                So technically, you could masturbate in any privately owned bathroom (shops, cinemas, workplaces, Starbucks etc…) but NOT in a public bathroom in the street ?

                1. Isabel Kunkle*

                  We don’t tend to have a lot of those in general, for reasons involving the fact that the country is a capitalist nightmarefest, but yeah, I think Starbucks would be able to kick you out and tell you never to come back, but not call the police, if Approval’s friend is correct. (Having *partnered* sex in Starbucks bathrooms/department store changing rooms/etc is common enough that there’s generally some scrutiny about more than one adult going in at once, IME.)

                2. Sacred Ground*

                  No. Key words: “…if the public don’t have free access to the building…”

                  Shops, cinemas, restaurants, malls, etc. are public access: private property to which the public has free access.

                3. Mathilde*

                  Malls, probably, yes. But restaurants ? You have to be a customer to use the bathrooms, same for cinemas. I don’t think they are public by Approval is optional’s definition.

            3. Oh No She Di'int*

              Sincere question here: what about masturbating in an RV? That’s like a car, but it’s not a car. Does it make a difference if the RV is parked in your driveway vs. in the parking lot at work? I mean, I think we naturally feel like it’s somehow distasteful to drive your RV to work and whack off in the parking lot. But is it illegal?

              I don’t know, I just find it hard to imagine that someone could be criminally charged for masturbating in their own office on private property, with the door locked and shades drawn. The behavior seems gross. But charging someone with a crime for it seems somehow . . . police state-ish. As others have pointed out, I think the problem is the mess–the evidence–not the act itself.

              1. LJay*

                The RV is owned by you (or the leasor). The office is owned by the company, or the landlord. That might make the difference.

                1. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  @Oh No She Di’int – No. That’s not the logic at all. In the case of a rented apartment, you have paid the owner an agreed upon amount of money for the use of a space. Unless your rental agreement specifically prohibits self pleasure, you’re fine. In an office building, your employer has paid the rent money and agreed to the terms, not you. It’s a different set of circumstances entirely.

                2. Oh No She Di'int*

                  @Librarian of SHIELD – Sorry about that. Had blinders on. I actually do pay the rent on my office, so that’s likely to color my perception. Honestly still not clear on how ownership makes one legal and the other not. Seems like the exposure would really be the problem?

      2. Samwise*

        There’s a difference between hearing your neighbors making whoopee in the privacy of their own bedroom (or bathroom or kitchen, wherever — it’s in their home) and hearing it at work.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            There’s a different threshold for acts being heard through their walls. Verses the standards for legal harassment in an office building.

            You can also swear your heart out at home or on the street. But you can’t skip down the row of cubicles singing them to your coworkers.

        1. Sarah N.*

          There’s also a big difference because your neighbors don’t spray semen all over your door and force you to clean it up…

      3. Aquawoman*

        Well, it’s different from the neighbors in 2 ways. One is that we allow the pretense of privacy for people doing things in their own home or other appropriate settings that does not apply here IMO. It’s akin to people showing you their junk in public (which I have experienced several times and is nasty and disconcerting in a way that overhearing your neighbors isn’t). And the other and actually more significant in my mind is the fact that the guy is depositing a biohazard in a shared space. That is the assault aspect.

        1. Jamie*

          Yeah – it’s the whole other people can come in contact with bodily fluids that make it radically different than hearing neighbors.

        2. Nonny Maus*

          To assist with this whole analogy– and to highlight that it IS assault–it IS that bio-hazard angle. There is a person leaving a BIOHAZARD improperly contained in a ‘public’ (in this case meaning shared) space. If a nursing mother was getting off by pumping or squirting breastmilk in a bathroom, that would be just as much assault.

          Or someone cutting themselves with a blade and leaving blood (like a woman leaving a tampon outside of its designated receptacle.)

          Blood/Semen/Breast-milk…even spit and snot, are all biohazardous chemicals. They need to be dealt with in a proper and careful-manner (hence why in unisex/women’s rooms there are often small specific trashbags SPECIFICALLY FOR napkins and tampons. Not icky b/c EW gross wimmens, or even the practical ‘don’t flush the pad/tampon please’ but because of the biohazard factor.

          1. Nonny Maus*

            Just thought of the other aspect that makes it assault–it is likely a DELIBERATE ACT of not cleaning up. So not just the bioharzard causing a problem for others, but that the person is deliberately NOT handling it in proper ways either. (Either notification of an accident, or cleaning it up themselves).

            Is it Criminal? Potentially, as this–especially since it’s happened more than once–implies the act has come with deliberate forethought and planning.

            Not a lawyer, just a detective-novel fan and someone who reads a lot.

          2. Emily Spinach*

            I think a lawyer would need more info and to know the jurisdiction to rule on how it might be assault or something related, but I’d be surprised if it counted. I read about a case where a woman was given a ride by a guy who then pulled over and masturbated onto her, and the law in her area said that didn’t count as sexual assault. (That may have changed afterwards, though.)

      4. Sacred Ground*

        This is not like hearing your neighbors going at it. This is like hearing your neighbors going at it and then finding their used condoms on your doorstep.

    3. Yorick*

      This is nothing near assault. It could be sexual harassment, depending on details, but it is in no way an assault.

  13. TL -*

    #1: I would honestly consider sending a company-wide email stating there has been several reports of a person masturbating at work and that constitutes sexual harassment, which you have zero tolerance of. Thus, there will be an effort to find the offender and they will be fired upon identification.

    That should be a wake up call to whoever is doing it and might encourage others to report.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It sounds like OP doesn’t have that authority, though—they manage the property, but not the firms/employers within the property.

      But if OP can narrow down or at least identify who the masturbator works for, OP could certainly begin assessing special biohazard and other charges to that employer to hire folks who specialize in a more intensive clean-up so that it doesn’t burden the current janitorial staff and really burdens the offender’s employer.

      1. TechWorker*

        No but they can presumably email out to the companies in the building and give them the option of doing so.

        ‘We have had some disturbing reports that an employee of one of the companies in this building is using the bathroom for activities that should be kept to a bedroom. This is disrespectful of other employees and especially of the cleaning staff who are left to deal with the aftermath. I would appreciate it if you make your employees aware of this issue, both to let them know they can report any further information about this matter to building security and to remind them of appropriate bathroom usage’

        Maybe masturbator will be scared into stopping if they think everyone else in the building is on red alert haha

        1. Jack Be Nimble*

          I like this language, but I’d come right out and say “We have received reports that an employee is using the bathroom to masturbate several times a day.” Otherwise, you’re opening the door to speculation about what the employee is doing in there. If I was told about “bedroom activities,” I wouldn’t think ‘lone pervert,’ I’d think ‘hookups.’

      2. pancakes*

        I’m not sure being able to email all the tenants occupying the property is an authority issue so much as a matter of having the right distribution list set up. In several big office buildings I’ve worked in the management company emails everyone once every couple months or so to notify us of fire drills or free ice cream in the lobby or whatnot.

      3. Sacred Ground*

        I wonder: though a building owner obviously can’t fire an employee of a tenant business, could they ban them from the premises?

        1. LW1*

          Not really… I think it would have to be much more egregious than masturbation, and the only things I can think of would involve the person being arrested anyway. But really, the landlord is always going to weigh these things against how much rent the companies pay.

          At another property I tried to ban a lady from PARKING HER RV IN THE PARKING LOT AND LIVING THERE DURING THE WEEK because her “commute was too long” and the person in her company who has decision making rights (read: he signed the lease) threw a fit and said since the lease didn’t explicitly say you can’t live in your RV on private property, there’s no problem. The landlord (a huge bank) took one look at how much they paid in rent per month and was like eh, just deal with it.

    2. Snuck*

      I like this approach… but understand the limitations of a building manager… can’t annoy the tenants too much, but also can’t put up with the tenants filth!

      “Dear Tenants, we have had several reports of a person using the toilets for masturbation, an incredibly hard subject to broach with you all. We are asking you to please find a way to communicate with all your staff that the use of the bathrooms is public, and that there’s a need for people to clean up their bodily waste, this is NOT the job of our cleaners. If the situation is not resolved we might need to lock bathrooms and restrict access to each floor, ideally before this the person involved will stop, or be identified and then your various management teams can help us resolve the issue for the rest of the tenants in the building. Yours sincerely, squicked out Property Manager”

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I like the idea of implying “if this isn’t resolved soon, your (collective) lives will all be inconvenienced” because we know that is a strong motivator. At the stage where the guilty party can be narrowed down to a single tenant, suggesting that their lease might be at risk would be a stronger motivator.

        I wonder what Ts&Cs are on the leases regarding use of shared spaces.

      2. Ya'll*

        Yeah, I agree with TechWorker and Snuck’s approach of roping in company management. Sometimes when things are so out of the norm for the space you work in, I find it okay to be unusually explicit rather than finding “appropriate” ways to structure the wording.
        Additionally, if OP1 or one of their employees happens to come across this individual mid-music playing, I would suggest a similar approach. A nice: “This is a reminder you are expected not to masturbate in our restroom.” in a raised voice might help. Or finding a maintenance project that needs completion right next to the bathroom in question could help you ID the person.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Our property management company did that when we had an issue with an employee (secured building) doing menstrual blood “art” in the women’s rooms. Our management (we were the only tenant) sent out the notice and said that if this employee was identified there would be disciplinary action. To my knowledge, it just stopped because there was not another warning. Unknown if anyone was disciplined over it since I wouldn’t have necessarily heard about it.

      4. LW1*

        Thank you for the language suggestion! I like this.

        If only I could sign memos “your squicked out Property Manager”… most days it would be “your really annoyed but desperately trying to be polite Property Manager”.

        1. Snuck*

          I tried to find a balance… you don’t want to become the toilet police… you just want it to stop… and having multiple tenancies on a floor or building (and this could well be someone from a different floor…) that you can’t annoy too much…

          Mild implied threat of hunting down the perpetrator might make them stop.
          Mention of the unmentionable to make them pay attention, and take it seriously.
          Offer to involve them in the resolution if necessary.
          Suggestion of annoying restrictions to increase urgency.

          UGH… I couldn’t do your job for all the world. I’ve worked with a long line of people who could have done this sort of thing, and it was hair greying.

          1. LW1*

            I am most definitely prematurely gray, so that’s a fair assessment.

            We have to maintain a delicate balance between being firm and authoritative and not pissing off the people who are paying huge sums of money to office there (which they of course love to remind you). I do like my job, but it is very, very stupid sometimes.

  14. Aphrodite*

    OP #2, I think I am getting old because people do things that I’d never consider doing such as being casual about their privacy. Are you sure IT can’t access the phone usage if they need to? I wouldn’t trust that, and frankly I wouldn’t trust anything on a company-issued phone regardless of whether the company was fine with it. But then I am extremely concerned with my privacy and go to great lengths to preserve it online and on phone calls.

    Why yes, I am a semi-Luddite. I have a different name and password for every place I go online. I do not own a cell phone. I am not on social media. But even if you are not as nuts for privacy as I am you might want to re-think your employer’s generosity. Or maybe I am just nuts . . .

    1. Ashley*

      I don’t trust that the company can’t grt info from that phone. Maybe they don’t monitor the phones at this time but they probably have the legal right to. I would get my own phone regardless of whether I stay with the company or not. I would not want to access my personal email, social media sites, bank accounts, etc from a company owned phone. And I definitely wouldn’t want to exchange text messages with my friends and family in that phone.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. I guess it’s possible IT has no access to the phone at all, but that hasn’t been my experience. I would expect a phone issued by the company to be accessible by IT, not just for monitoring purposes, but for trouble-shooting, etc.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I would not trust any phone or computer issued for work. My company has this BYOP option where you can use your own phone. However, if you do that they install security software in order to access their server. Supposed to be for company security, but you can bet, if they want to, they’d see your private coms. Nope! I always keep my phone private and don’t even connect to the WiF at work with it.

    4. Goldfinch*

      If LW’s company is so lax as to have no appropriate BYOD policy in place, then LW is at risk anyway because they probably also don’t know enough to have properly set up the device’s security. A company being unable to access its own property shows severe incompetence, and I doubt that’s truly the case.

    5. JDC*

      Don’t access and can’t are different. Once the phone is handed in their can go through it all with no software or special skills needed.

    1. Christmas*

      Somebody knows who he is, but isn’t talking. I garauntee it. Understandable because it’s so awkward, but somebody has to speak up if they want it to stop.

    2. Bulldog*

      This was a point I made up thread. For them to know that music was involved, someone else had to be in the restroom at the same time this was happening. Identifying the culprit should be fairly simple.

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        True, and also I just like the idea of using the music in question as a way to track him down.

        “Well, *someone* in this company clearly gets off to Nickelback, which indicates even more serious personal problems than the original situation…”

    3. Goose Lavel*

      Could you imagine your horror if you used the bathroom (after the jerkoff) for a quick piss and was then misidentified as the culprit?

      How could you defend yourself against misidentification? I guess DNA testing?

    4. shep*

      Weirdly, someone in my office occasionally plays music in the restroom from their phone, utterly sans headphones. It was a much more frequent occurrence a few months back and then died down a bit, but I heard it again recently.

      In this particular situation, I think I know who’s doing this and I’m pretty sure it’s just a bathroom anxiety reducer tactic, and/or they don’t realize their headphones aren’t completely plugged in and that it’s playing both through the headphones AND the speaker. They do their business relatively quickly, and we don’t have any major bathroom issues (although we did have someone leaving [unused] toilet paper EVERYWHERE for a few months, which I think was down to someone being particularly precious about not wanting to touch anything gross, which I get in theory but SERIOUSLY??).

      But the music sure makes ME anxious, although I’m not sure why, aside from the fact that I find the music of choice particularly grating. I think maybe because it breaks through the polite fiction that no one can hear [normal] bathroom-y noises in the stalls…?

      1. TechWorker*

        I know more than one person who plays music when in the bathroom to cover the sound of them pooping – I agree it’s odd, but I don’t think it automatically means they’re doing anything weird!

    5. LW1*

      This is a super question. I have never personally witnessed this, so I can’t say with certainty.

      I agree with other posters that SOMEONE out there knows who it is, but the people reporting him say they don’t know what he looks like. Perhaps they hear him going at it and run out of the bathroom before he’s done.

  15. CandyCorn*

    I thought Jolie Kerr was going to help out with answering #1 – didn’t she volunteer her help on Twitter?

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          We found a Rabbit in our women’s bathroom once. Then we moved buildings and found a “lipstick” version.

          1. SarahKay*

            I had an HSE colleague tell me about an incident in a previous job. He’d needed to check wiring above the ceiling tiles and when one of the tiles was lifted a (large) vibrator fell down, narrowly missing his head. So, ummm, yes, there are probably enough stories about that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            … I haven’t had caffeine yet and it took me a minute to realize that you weren’t talking about someone’s pet bunny.

            1. I am not OP #5*

              OMG… It took your comment to make me realize it wasn’t a pet, too. Did not see the capital R in rabbit…

            2. Third or Nothing!*

              I must be very sheltered because I didn’t realize the rabbit wasn’t a live animal until your comment.

              Don’t tell me what it actually is. I don’t want to know.

              1. Alli525*

                I won’t say what it is, but it was made popular in an episode of Sex & the City, so maybe that’s why some people are more familiar with the name than others.

            1. Sacred Ground*

              To be fair, if large rodents are falling from the ceiling tiles, that’s also a problem.

          3. Going anonymous to protect my secret identity*

            I work in a library. For a while, we regularly found romance novels in the men’s room at closing time. We threw them all away.

            1. pancakes*

              Yuck. This could be a very amusing running gag in a series about a library, though, with a new made-up title every week.

          4. LW1*

            This is funny, actually. Someone recently left a dildo (like, this week) in the women’s room in the same building as the office masturbator. I had to be the decision maker on what we should do with it (answer: throw it away). Sorry to the person who just lost their presumably expensive toy!

            People are RIDICULOUS and yes. There are many, many bodily fluids stories in corporate environments.

            1. smoke tree*

              In the version of this story I have internally rewritten, you plunged it into a large stone which was placed in the building’s foyer, awaiting the arrival of its rightful bearer, who would take over the position of property manager.

  16. ChemMoose*

    To add on to OP #5 – A coworker pointed out to me that google hangouts/meet has closed captions as well. Once on the call, in the lower right corner with the 3 dots, click there, then click “captions”.

    Note it doesn’t always work great, but it can be really helpful.

    1. Imperator Grammarosa*

      OP 5
      There’s an app called Livetranscribe which is awesome for this. It can be set to recognize like 80 languages and several dialects of English.

  17. Liv Jong*

    OP #1, how gross for you to deal with.

    This is totally the time to go to the bosses. Let them know your contract doesn’t include biohazard cleanup and let them know you will need to explore better, more expensive clean up options if it continues. The janitors should not be exposed like that!

    1. Attempting2Direct*

      I think they mentioned they are the highest person – it’s a building manager and multiple companies within.

      1. Amanda*

        I think it still applies. I would assume the building manager has a contract with his business tenants, stipulating who cleans, shovels, replaced light bulbs… all the tedious things. It would be fair to say “due to frequent biohazard activity in the men’s bathroom, we need to amend the contract to cover a more safe and thorough cleaning. This will change your monthly rate to $xxx until the problem is solved”

        1. Liv Jong*

          Exactly. Next step would be installing camera’s (hopefully temporarily) in the halls but not at the doors where the bathrooms are and start tracking it. It has to be stopped and all of the leaders in the building should be concerned.

          Also this should cost extra, money will help motivate any potential “bad bosses” who don’t care.

        2. Liv Jong*

          A blast email might be deterrent enough if everyone in the building is looking for the perv.

        3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Another great suggestion for moving the inconvenience burden towards someone with more power and authority to make a change.

    2. Yvette*

      “Let them know your contract doesn’t include biohazard cleanup…” But realistically, this is a (semi) public bathroom. Aside from this I am sure there are plenty of other biohazard bodily fluids that need to be cleaned up on a regular basis. So I would stay away from emphasising the biohazard aspect and focus on the inappropriateness of that particular mess.

  18. cncx*

    re OP4 name changer here, currently go by [middle name] [maiden name], college degree and certifications are in [first name] [maiden name], most of my referees are [middle name] [ex husband last name].

    for a couple of years i put my name on my cv like this [first name] [middle name] [maiden name] [married name], but since i’ve now been divorced and at the same employer for a while, i only put my ex husband’s name on referee lists, just as AAM said (“knows me as [middle name] [married name]”)

    i go with AAM’s advice, with the caveat it may make sense to put the most frequent of your past names on your cv, even in parentheses, unless those names are somehow painful and you don’t want to use them more than necessary.

    1. Name Change*

      OP 4 OP#4 OP4

      *caveat* I may be wrong. That sometimes happens.

      I am not sure it’s really necessary to go into all the name changes on the initial resume/cover letter. I think if it gets to the point of degree verification, references, and background check, that may be the time to give them a head’s up. Criminal background checks also check for aliases. I know I am able to get former names from a simple Lexis-Nexis search without a social security number or anything. (Source: Friend is a felon who got married then changed her last name for housing purposes, but criminal record still comes up.)

    2. Valprehension*

      Also a name changer here! I changed my last name due to marriage at one point, and then later changed all my names. When I had to verify my degree for my current job, I just gave them the degree with my old name and the name change certificate to verify that was me!

      Depending on your comfort levels, if you don’t want to use the “this reference knows me as:” bit on your resume, you could alternatively let your references know about the name change and what you go by now, and to expect people to call for references under your current name!

    3. ScarletNumber*

      I think Alison is being a bit naive here. All of this name changing does look odd to most people.

      1. pancakes*

        Surely it’s regional to some extent. I live in NYC and when I went to my bank to see about having my new name put on my checks they just asked for my SAG card. I don’t have one because I’m not an actor, but they didn’t blink at that either. If people I encounter want to be priggish or suspicious about it, that’s on them — it’s not as if I have to go about my business thinking about their disapproval.

      2. Joielle*

        I’d say it’s UNUSUAL, in that a majority of people don’t change their name more than once or twice (and only last name), but not “odd” in a “red flag about this person” way. Since it’s not common, it’s important to mention, but no need to over-explain or apologize.

  19. Tiger Snake*

    #1 – this is only a hunch, but:
    Start having the internet usage in your building recorded and inspected. There’s a high chance your wayward employee has also been looking at sites related to his… prolific interest.

    1. Observer*

      This is generally not something you can do on a building-wide basis unless the building is providing and managing shared internet access.

      1. Tiger Snake*

        *shrug* If you’re the building manager and not the business manager; then advise the company that you have strong reason to believe that someone is viewing inappropriate material using their network, and advise them monitor the traffic/scan emails etc.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        Larger buildings might provide guest WiFi, employees might use said WiFi to avoid being detected by their own company. Might be worth a shot although I have my suspicions that it won’t be as helpful for narrowing down the perpetrator as one would hope.

      3. LW1*

        Yes, this is correct.

        We don’t provide building-wide WiFi. The suggestion to the various companies’ managers to check their internet usage is not a bad one, though it would be atypical for a property manager to suggest (then again, this situation is fairly atypical).

    2. pancakes*

      That’s a big intrusion on everyone else’s privacy for a very flimsy reason. If he was indeed consuming adult material at work he’d likely have been spotted and identified already, unless everyone has a private office with opaque walls.

      1. Mother of Cats*

        Assuming that your internet usage at work isn’t recorded and checked is pretty naive. In a company large enough to be taking space in a big office building I’d expect them to have a bunch of appliances that can monitor what people are doing. Likely a firewall logging in and outbound traffic, a proxy server recording everyone’s browsing, possibly some sort of end point management watching everything they do on their computer individually. It’s be pretty rare for a business network not to have a URL filter and/or proxy like Bluecoat or others. And you’d typically find that business guest WiFi would have the same kind of sites blocked as well as a delegates to your company don’t need to browse pornography while they’re on site and it would indeed log attempts to get blocked content on the proxy logs.

        That said, most businesses aren’t going to review the logs without a cause. So the suggestion that the businesses in this building should request their IT staff to review the proxy logs isn’t a bad one. The content is likely blocked from access but each attempt to get it anyway will be flagged. It might give them some idea and there are no worries about violating privacy when work provided equipment or bandwidth is used to obtain blocked content. Also, most people will find they signed some sort of acceptable use policy that details what they can and can’t do with work computers and internet and likely also details the kind of monitoring you are subjected to.

        FYI, never assume privacy on a work/public network. A lot of public WiFi in cafes etc also uses URL filtering to block content and what you send over any kind of WiFi network you don’t own is fair game for observation unless you use a VPN. Public places also don’t want people watching porn while a family with little kids eats their meal on the next table.

        I’d like to think that most people who are going to consume pornography at work are going to be wise enough to do it over their mobile data and on an even half well configured network you wouldn’t have a choice as the content filter would say hell no.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t assume for a moment that my internet usage in office buildings isn’t or can’t be monitored! That’s not what I was commenting on. I was commenting on the suggestion to start an intrusive monitoring program in a workplace that presumably doesn’t presently have one, and for tenuous reasons. It’s one thing to monitor whether workers are visiting commonplace adult content sites or sites with keywords in the name—and/or block sites like YouTube or Hulu on company equipment so they can’t watch regular content either—but it’s a big step up in intensity to start “inspecting” which sites employees are visiting, which is what was suggested. It would be unduly intrusive, I think, to increase the intensity of internet monitoring for all employees based on the idea that the onanist simply has to be also be consuming adult streaming content at work. The human libido often manages to provide sufficient inspiration with nothing more than the mind’s eye.

          The other thing is, a lot of us don’t use office wifi (or public wifi, for that matter) on our phones due to security concerns. I have an unlimited data plan and don’t use office wifi even when there’s a guest password posted. I generally don’t use coffee shop or municipal wifi either.

          I really don’t appreciate being lectured at length for making a simple-minded assumption I didn’t make.

          1. Mother of Cats*

            I promise you that any company worth their salt IT wise already has this capability. The network will have a proxy or or other way to block the URLs such as a content filter and that box will log EVERYTHING. If someone said ‘Bob surfs the internet all day’ and the company wanted to check they could easily pull Bob’s logs and see exactly what Bob does all day online.

            Now, the IT department is often understaffed and overworked so if no one complains and or gives them a reason to review the logs they’re never likely to go looking through them to find out that Sarah tried to get on a shopping site the bluecoat blocked but if they wanted to they easily could and that’s not stepping up the monitoring at all. Its just that who cares if you browse for a new pair of pants in your down time if your work is normally high quality and no one complains about you. The minute there is cause or a complaint, an IT admin with the right privileges could just run a search for your workstation IP and find all your browsing history. That’s not intrusive. When anyone browses at work they should always be happy for that history to be pulled up in an examination of the logs of all the various pieces of network kit it passes through. If the IT department has done their job right literally everything you do with your PC is logged in about 4 different places.

            So yes, that’s not any sort of violation, it’s something most businesses do and looking back through for these types of sites is not gathering any logs the company likely already doesn’t have and if people are looking at stuff at work they wouldn’t want their work to examine then they should really maybe think about that.

            I’m sorry you found a simple statement from someone who works in IT so offensive. Like really, wow.

      2. Tiger Snake*

        I fundamentally disagree that its an intrusion of privacy. There should never be an expectation of privacy in this scenario. This isn’t intrusive; we are not hacking into employee’s personal routers or phones and spying on what they do at home with their kids, dogs and husbands. We’re scanning the traffic that is being consumed on a corporate network. Its a feature provided by businesses to do work, and you should always assume that it is being recorded and monitored. This is normal.

        Yes, its generally regarded to employees can do a certain level of personal browsing as well – but that is a perk that should always come with the expectation of “the business pays for it and they get to dictate the terms that perk comes with.” The business gets to decide what personal browsing is acceptable, and decide how their internet traffic will be controlled and protected. Blocking websites and traffic inspection are two very normal parts of that. Its not extreme or intrusive. Its normal business practice.

        As for the final point, about how if someone were doing this in a cubical-farm without private offices someone would notice – they don’t. No one ever does. I’ve worked in offices that are one big open-plan cubical farm, where not even directors had offices and every meeting room had clear-glass windows. As the person whose had to be the one to check web-traffic usage in that place, and then check under the desks… Trust me on this. They’re there.

  20. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    #1. Best bets for deterring: keep the bathrooms cold, keep the lights on a short timer, install speakers in the restrooms and play muzak changing songs at weird intervals.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      This is awful for people with digestive issues, though. Nothing like being locked in a chilly, unlit, windowless box listening to disorienting muzak while your guts refuse to do their thing (or do it at length).

      1. Mathilde*

        I mean… sure… but it is worse than having to stay in a loo with happy juice around you ?

      2. AnonEmu*

        Agreed, I’ve had a few times where I’ve been stuck in a dark bathroom because the motion switch is by the door and I’m trapped in the cubicle because my gut has decided it hates me. It’s not fun at all and the weirded out feeling doesn’t exactly help take your mind off the gut distress.

        1. So Very Anon For This*

          If waving your arms does not do the trick, wad up a length of toilet paper and throw it over the stall wall towards the door.

      3. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        Sometimes the movement detector controlled lights turn off so quickly that you don’t need to have any particular digestive issues to end up in a dark restroom. It’s really annoying.

      4. Jaybeetee*

        Speaking as someone with periodic tummy troubles, I’d take the hit of a dark, cold stall for awhile to catch the dude.

      5. Yorick*

        Yeah, I’d make the sacrifice. Also, for me it’s torture to use a warm bathroom, so I’d be ok if it’s coldish.

        1. pancakes*

          If it’s so loud as to mask the sounds of what he’s doing that’s not a good deterrent. If anything that would provide cover he doesn’t presently have.

        2. Beancounter Eric*

          Bagpipes….very loud bagpipes. Throw in some John Phillip Sousa to spice things up.

          Or, have at random times a James Earl Jones-grade voice announce very loudly “I see what you are doing – CUT IT OUT!!”

          1. Former Young Lady*

            Google “The Most Unwanted Music.” These guys crowdsourced all the elements people hate most, and recorded a half-hour magnum opus incorporating them all. Bagpipes, sopranos, children’s choir, cowboy-themed rapping, accordions, harp…you name it. It would be the perfect soundtrack.

      1. Mathilde*

        Gregorian chant. Recorder and piccolo concertos. Florence Foster Jenkins’s recordings. Schönberg’s music.

        Nobody is going to want to stay in that bathroom.

        1. Beancounter Eric*

          HMMM…..may have to build some Pandora channels around those…..may be good for drafting business forecasts.

      2. nnn*

        A playlist full of anti-masturbation songs! (Someone, somewhere, at some point in human history must have written anti-masturbation songs)

        1. susie*

          Ooh, I only know of one: “The Big M” by Lust Control. Conservative Christian punk rock. Put it on a loop and let the chips fall where they may.

  21. Attempting2Direct*

    For #3 – my husband says “be assertive, be direct, and if all else fails remove the hands off his Lego people”

    ^not 100% serious but made me laugh and might even do the trick.

    1. Mockingjay*

      The Lego people would start roaming the building. By the copier one day, break room next…

  22. No Personal Use on Company Devices*

    LW#2: Please go ahead and get yourself a new phone/number that is just yours, and start transitioning to it asap. Not just for job searches, but once you leave, you don’t want your contacts (friends/family) to be accidentally texting or calling the previous phone. Also make sure to get all pictures, apps (banking,etc), notes off of your company phone. Doing this now, will save you more stress in the long run.

    Also, while IT may not appear to have any software installed, if you have the company email client on the phone, they can wipe it via that, use “Find Android” or “Find Apple” online to wipe it, or call the provider and have them wipe it as well since they’re the ones paying the bill.

    To anyone else looking at this “perk” in the future, I’d recommend staying far away from it. I’m in IT, and they can always find a way to view your information on the biz phone. It doesn’t have to be expensive either. I’ve been using Verizon pre-paid services for years (all the other major carriers have the same thing). It’s like $40 a month with a lot of data, I can easily get great phones anywhere if it breaks, and no contract. They just do a direct withdraw on my card every month for the bill.

    1. MommyMD*

      Good advice. There are ways for them to see what’s going on with the phone. Dialed phone numbers are especially easily.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      Am I the only person think that this “perk” with the company keeping the number is there to make it hard to resign ?

      Treat that phone as a work phone unless you get, in writing, a guarantee that the number is yours to keep.

      1. Snuck*

        I think the main reason they retain the number is it will be given to the next person in the same role, so that their clients/customers aren’t inconvenienced in having to update contact lists etc..

        I don’t think it’s about retention (the keep a number, the issuing of the phone including private use is in part about retention – private use phone is a nice little perk), but about business logistics.

        In Australia the contract isn’t on the handset, it’s on the phone number… the account is to the number… if a company issues that number to an employee, but is paying the bill, then prints contact lists etc with that number, and has business cards handed out with it, and there’s loads of people having contacts to that number… the employer retains it. You can negotiate to get the number from them as part of your exit if you want, but you’d need a very compelling reason to do so.

      2. MK*

        But it doesn’t make it hard to resign at all, it just means that the employee then has to go through the usual process after changing a phone number (mainly having to notify everyone from your mother and best friend to your hairdresser to your bank(s) to X numbers of goverment departments and relocate anything saved to the SIM card on a new device). Sure, it’s a huge hassle, but hardly something that would motivate people to stay in a job just to avoid it.

        1. pancakes*

          Is that the usual process, though? I’ve had the same mobile phone number since 1998, with multiple carriers over the years. I haven’t had a land line since then, and if a job gave me a phone and told me to use it as my main number, I wouldn’t because it wouldn’t be mine and wouldn’t be portable. Maybe this is more of a quirk in my area—917 numbers have a bit of status—but I can’t recall the last time anyone I knew changed their phone number. The idea of tying it to an employer is weird to me and does seem designed to be an apron string of some sort.

          1. doreen*

            917 numbers have status now? I remember when no one wanted a 917 number. People don’t change their number as much as they did before they were portable- but lots of people use phones that are attached to another person’s account and it’s the account owner who must agree to port the number. I know of people who had to get new numbers because the account owner wouldn’t agree.

            1. pancakes*

              I tried to reply earlier but my link didn’t go through. I suppose it is wandering off-topic, but to be clear, yes, area codes only ever have status among snobs and semi-ironic snobs. Those people exist, though! I heard on BBC 4 yesterday that London is adding a million new numbers due to land line demand and I’d bet something similar will happen there for a little while. People will make arriviste jokes about the new number for a few months and then they’ll move on.

          2. LJay*

            They’re not telling you you have to use it as your main number, they’re telling you can use it as your main number. You’d be free to ignore it, and I imagine most would since they would already have an existing phone number and contract.

      3. doreen*

        Or to make sure you always carry it and have it turned on. My husband’s company allows him to use his company issued cell phone for personal use- and more than once, he’s been asked by his manager why he didn’t respond to a phone call/email at night/on the weekend/on vacation. Because it’s not with him/turned on – which it probably would have been if it was the only phone he had.

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Did they really expect people to ditch the personal number they had before getting the job ?

          1. doreen*

            Yes and no- a fair amount of his coworkers have been there since before personal phones became common, so it was less give up a personal number than not get one. But for the others, the managers did expect them to give up their personal numbers in the “why would you pay for your own phone” , not the ” this is a requirement” sense.

  23. Hiya*

    #2 I personally would get my own phone and start transferring my personal stuff to it and using it for any resumes. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one. You can then transfer that number to a better phone if you do change jobs.

  24. Zipzap*

    LW#1 – If there was any way to ask folks (the ones who have reported him) to tip you off when they know he’s doing his thing, I’d go to the restroom, wait til he leaves, and talk to him directly. Say there have been several complaints about what he’s doing, its obvious what he’s doing, and he needs to stop now or his employer will be notified. The fact that he’s playing music (!) makes me think he’s trying (unsuccessfully) to mask the activity, so he may actually think people are not clued in. I think this would be the fastest way to solve the problem. Obviously, his actions are pretty egregious so you could go to his manager first, but I would talk to him first.

  25. Not Australian*

    LW1 – this may sound really odd, but I know that some public restrooms install special lighting to prevent this kind of thing (it’s sort of a muddy blue-purple), also aimed at preventing sex workers and their clients from using the space. The theory I heard is that it makes one less inclined for sexual activity. Is this something you could get your building’s managers to look into?

    1. Tim Tam Girl*

      This lighting is quite common in Australia (public bathrooms, doorways, etc.), but to my knowledge has nothing to do with sexual behaviours: it’s to make it harder to find veins, thereby theoretically discouraging IV drug use in that space. (FWIW, its efficacy, and the broader safety implications for users and the community as a whole, have been the subject of heated debate for many years; all up it doesn’t seem to be worth it.)

      1. Not Australian*

        Oh, that’s a shame; clearly whoever told me about it was misinformed. It seemed such a neat solution, too. 8-(

      2. TechWorker*

        As well as this if the office is otherwise a generally pleasant and professional space I can imagine you would get additional complaints from businesses in the building when you convert the bathrooms to feel like a dodgy public toilet. (Not saying having blue lighting is worse than the original problem, obviously, but it introduces a different problem!)

    2. Wren*

      This approach can be really disorienting to people with some disabilities, so I really don’t recommend this.

  26. Chris*

    The best I can come up with is a frank, blunt note inside each bathroom stall. If you must masturbate in here, please realize nobody is impressed, nobody is interested, and nobody needs to deal with your bodily fluids. It is not our responsibility to deal with your employment, but realize that your behaviour could be seen as a pattern of sexual misconduct in the workplace, and your employer will take that seriously. Thanks, building management.

  27. Southern Metalsmith*

    OP1 I am part owner and manager of a small office building and what I do when weird things happen around the building is talk to the tenants. Phone, email, visit in person – that doesn’t matter so much as touching base with each one. ‘(this thing) is happening, can you give any insight/propose a solution?’
    In this case I might say something like, ‘Please tell your employees that I don’t care what people are doing in private spaces, I do care that a mess is being left behind. Tell them to put a sock on it – cum does not belong on the bathroom walls.’ (Since I’m an old lady, I find coarseness has a particular impact as long as I use it sparingly. You may have a different way of conveying your message.)
    The point is getting the leaseholders/business owners involved in the solution gives them some ownership and I have found that very helpful rather than struggling with issues on my own. Most business owners will be horrified that this is happening and would love to give advice about how to stop it. Some of that advice might even be helpful.
    You may be forced in the long run to put cameras in the halls to try and track down the culprit, but making sure the behavior is called out publicly to everyone in the building usually stops this kind of thing.
    Though to be fair the worst thing I’ve had to deal with along those lines was dog owners leaving poop bags around the property.

    1. Jack V*

      I was going to suggest roughly this, but better to have suggestions from someone with experience.

      After all, maybe one of the tenant companies has a good idea, “oh, I wonder if it’s weird Steve? he used to do that in the kitchen but we asked him to stop”, and then you can pressure them to have a talk with Steve. Or a warning will be passed on and the perpetrator will give up.

      Or come to think of it, if it’s literally several times a day, maybe dropping in on the toilet several times, or having a stake out in an “out of order” stall, would find them. If you know who it is, hopefully they’ll be shamed out of it, or you their company can be pressured to stop them (or, if they refuse, fire them).

      Or maybe escalate to signs, telling other people what to watch out for, and asking them to contact you if they see a cubicle taken for a long time with music, or something else suspicious. I don’t usually want to encourage people to police each other, but for one specific thing, it makes sense. Hopefully the perpetrator will get scared off. And might reassure people something is being done.

      Or maybe, a security camera in the staircase, see if anyone’s frequenting the toilet in unusual patterns, or tie it to when occurrences are reported :(

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        Once the tenant companies are notified of the situation, there will probably be a few “weird Steves” who immediately emerge as suspects.

  28. Grand Mouse*

    #1- Gross. I’m a janitor and I would really struggle to have to clean this up, from the mental grossness and the uh. sexual nature of it given my trauma history. (Maybe I can ask in the open thread about how to handle that). Anyway! Unfortunately I don’t have a good solution, but thank you for wanting to fix it. Since I do clean bathrooms, at my old job we had some weirdos use the bathroom (suspected drug use or…. self pleasuring) and I would make it uncomfortable for them! I would address them directly and ask them when they would be done and to wrap it up. Obviously I didn’t handle normal situations this way but when someone is misusing the bathroom it can help to let them know you know. So maybe have people knock on the door when they hear the music and/or report it to their manager? Just thinking about how I handled it

    1. Ellie*

      I am horrified to admit that we have the same issue here at our workplace… only they’re doing it in the disabled toilet (more room I guess?). I would never have thought they’d be two offices like this… but the letter really doesn’t sound like ours.

      Our cleaners refuse to clean it up, so the company has to pay for a specialist group to come in whenever it happens. No one blames them for this, the reaction was pretty well, ‘Of course they’re not cleaning it!’, from everyone I’ve spoken to.

      Its a big company with lots of construction work going on at the moment, so no one really knows who it is.

      I don’t know if it’s helped at all, but we were all individually spoken to about the issue, and told to report anything we see, and to avoid using that toilet wherever possible to assist in trying to track down whoever’s doing it. They can’t put in cameras because of privacy concerns, even fake ones. There’s been no other updates as yet… I think everyone’s just hoping it stops on its own.

      This is so, so gross…

      1. ..Kat..*

        I am curious. Have the cleaners been trained in how to safely clean this up? Do they have the appropriate equipment?

        I ask this as someone who used to provide training and make sure that the appropriate equipment was available to cleaners. And manned a pager 24/7 to answer questions and provide treatment/follow-up for people who had been exposed to bodily fluids.

        1. Jamie*

          I wondered that, too. When I had to deal with poop smearing at two different companies they would send in a separate crew for cleanup and it was far more expensive.

          1. De Minimis*

            At my job we had an issue where someone drove an RV through the employee parking lot and their septic system leaked all over the place. Our facilities crew had to clean it up and it was really bad. Now I’m wondering if that was actually okay for them to do or if someone else should have been called in.

      2. LW1*

        When did this start? Did it coincide with when construction started?

        Because I am 99% sure it’s the construction workers.

        I have had to BUILD SEPARATE BATHROOMS for construction workers because when they used the regular building restrooms they would literally leave poo everywhere, clog every toilet, you name it. I made the construction companies paid for this, and they were happy to do it without question because it happens on every construction job, everywhere. I don’t want to paint an entire sector with this brush, but I am.

    2. LW1*

      Thank you!

      The janitorial staff here is super embarrassed about this and I think have really hesitated in being direct when they witness it (I’m fairly convinced they know at least what this person looks like and are afraid to say anything – but I don’t know for sure). I will encourage them to speak up.

  29. big X*

    On a work network????? AFAIK, you have no real privacy when it comes to work email, work networks, work IM and anything provided to you by your employer. At best, you just have an employer that doesn’t monitor or care to check in.

    1. big X*

      Whoops, nesting fail. Was responding to a comment objecting to monitoring employee’s web activity (in hopes of finding someone who recently had seen some “inspiration”) because it was a violation of the majorities privacy in order to catch one person.

  30. Quandong*

    LW1, how about repainting the interior of bathroom stalls with superhydrophobic paint (urine repellent paint) if all else fails to stop the masturbator?

      1. Anonny*

        One fun thing about hydrophobic paint is that if you wee on it, the urine splashes back at you. Hopefully the same will happen with the happy batter.

        1. Oxford Comma*

          I heard a podcast that talked about how this paint was used to deter drunks from public urination in a district with a lot of bars and clubs and that it appears to have worked.

        2. Quandong*

          Yes, that was what I didn’t spell out in my post. I reckon causing direct inconvenience to the wanker in question might get him to change his behaviour.

        3. Alli525*

          Wouldn’t the viscosity of ejaculate make it respond differently (i.e. not as well) to hydrophobic paint, though?

          (This is not a sentence I’d ever imagined typing, for any reason.)

          1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

            Maybe we should write to the manufacturer of the paint to ask.

            My bet is that it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve been asked!

    1. LW1*

      I love it. Thank you for the laugh!

      Serious answer: we just put up bougie sparkly wallpaper and specialty tile for $30k, so no.

  31. Kate, short for Bob*

    OP3 – what’s stopping you doing a forearm sweep of toys into a box and putting them in an awkward corner each and every time? Why do you think you need to be inconvenienced AT YOUR JOB by some guy’s TOYS?

    Seriously, ask yourself why you’re allowing this guy’s Lego to take priority over your ability to work – and why you’re so reluctant to cause offence when it’s his offensive behaviour that’s causing the problem.

    You can assert yourself – do it for your job if you can’t do it for yourself

    1. LeRainDrop*

      More than the Legos and cars, I would not be able to stop myself from thinking about germs. What if Bob is a nose-picker? Or he has a cold and doesn’t cover his mouth/nose when he sneezes? What if he doesn’t wash his hands after going to the restroom? What if he’s the culprit from Letter #1? If I knew someone else was really using my desk (not just like grabbing a notepad or looking for something they need from me), then I would feel somewhat compelled to sanitize my desk and keyboard. And that would be really annoying if it were more than once in a blue moon. (And yes, I realize that this is not fully rational since my desk and keyboard could get germy just from myself or other normal work ways.)

      1. Liane*

        Or misusing your company computer. A friend worked someplace where (for awhile) they often let people use his desk and computer when he was out. Nearly every time, he’d return to a computer that had viruses, most likely because the borrower went to questionable sites.

        1. Ama*

          Yeah I would have to say if the computer does not already have a password lock on it, add one, and if it does, OP should change their password just in case this guy has figured it out. Even if OP knows he’s bringing his own computer to the desk, I wouldn’t feel comfortable unless I knew for sure there was no way he could access mine.

          And yes, the toys would be mine the second time they were left on my desk (the first time, the culprit would get a warning).

        2. Quill*

          When I got my laptop at my first non-contract job the internet was wall to wall dick pics due to a virus. At the time, I thought it was because of ludicrously bad understanding of internet security – after two years and being fired I wonder if it was revenge.

        3. Observer*

          If the OP’s employer doesn’t have any protection in place, then put a password on it.

          Id their system(s) are reasonably set up, though, the likelihood of a problem is low AND another person would not be able to log in as the OP, so if something problematic came up, it would be clear who the culprit is.

      2. Just Elle*

        Yep, seriously. I am really not a germaphobe. I am a little ‘particular’ about having things just so, but I *try* to relax about it at work. But I just cannot with people sitting at my desk. I hate it at a deep, nails-on-chalkboard level. Especially when they change my chair settings.

        And I tend to agree that this guy is doing it as some kind of messed up power play, like marking his territory. So I agree with escalating right back. He’s probably getting off on your uncomfortable squirming and the fact you keep letting it go.

        Can you go to your boss and be like “Joe keeps sitting in my desk while I’m gone and setting up a mini car display and I asked him to stop but he won’t, isn’t that super weird and unnecessary?” Because it is weird and unnecessary and calling him out on it makes him look bad, not you. (Within reason, I don’t think you can make this an emotional hill to die on, but still).

      3. Observer*

        That’s what wipes are for.

        It’s easy enough to do, and if your desk is in an open area probably a good idea even if you don’t have someone regularly using your desk.

    2. Auntie Social*

      Why does he need his toys if he’s working? And if he’s playing and not working, he doesn’t need to be at your desk!

    3. Carlie*

      I’d sweep them right into the trash. Not trash he can fish them out of, but walked outside to the dumpster. He wants to make a territory marking performance, he gets a territory marking performance.

      1. Auntie Social*

        It also looks like Joe is trying to give himself a temporary promotion by sitting at your desk. The optics aren’t good. Law firm associates don’t poach the partner’s office while he’s away. There is no reason for him to sit at your desk–there is nothing that he can’t handle from his desk, and I think it shows a lack of respect.

    4. Dr. Pepper*

      I was thinking this too. Why be so worried about offending him? If he was the boss, I’d say suck it up and deal, but he’s not. Maybe toss his toys into a box and hand them back with a “Please don’t sit at my desk while I’m away, it really bothers me. Also, the next time I have to do this, the box goes into the trash” or words to that effect. He is being weird. If he was just sitting at your desk I could believe that it’s more convenient for him to do so when he’s covering for you, but the display of personal items crosses a line. If the above approach feels too strong, you can start off with the “curious and puzzled” approach, where you act confused about what he’s doing and ask him to explain exactly why he’s doing it. Stare at him in friendly bewilderment. Let it be awkward for him. Make him explain the toys too. Unless he’s got a good, work related reason for what he’s doing, ask him directly to stop. Then move on to the “next time I find things that aren’t mine, I’m throwing them away”.

      And invest in a pack of wipes. It’s a good idea to clean your desk periodically anyway.

      1. Maria Lopez*

        I wouldn’t even put the toys in a box or give him a warning. He is a clerk and you are the administrator. Just unceremoniously put the toys in a bag and take them to the outside trash and let him know later that the desks are assigned for a reason and he is not to sit at your desk AT ALL.
        I would also ask IT if they can fix your computer so that only you can log in. I worked in a large hospital system and at the personal desks only the people assigned to be at the desks (sometimes two or three people) could get access to the computer.

  32. Jemima Bond*

    #1 surely time to resurrect the ceiling cat meme and stick a printout of it to the back of every cubicle door?

  33. Annekitty*

    LW 4- I’m trans and have my first name changed. I find that as long as your open with just saying your name is changed employers don’t care very much. Personally every place I’ve interviewed at so far is very nice about it and just confirms that they are calling me by my correct name. I have my given name in my resume with a little note saying to call me my preferred name (I don’t remember exactly how it’s written but it seemed to work well to have it there).

    1. pancakes*

      Yes—I changed my first and last name shortly after college and have often worked as a freelancer via agencies over the years, and I’ve never had an issue with it. I sent my college a copy of the court order changing my name and they retroactively updated my records. Typically when I’m working through an agency there’s a place on their forms to indicate whether you’ve ever gone by another name, and I say I have and can provide the court order upon request. I’ve never had to.

    2. coldfingers*

      Annekitty – thanks for sharing your perspective here. When I read that letter the first thing I thought of was the challenges that someone who was trans could be facing in this situation. Your comment gives me hope that the world is not *completely* full of assholes!

  34. Magenta*

    I personally think that this behaviour is completely unacceptable, it is sexual harassment and it involves non-consenting parties in your sex play.
    However it appears not everyone agrees, a senior employee of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a charity involved in child protection, filmed himself masturbating, in rubber fetish gear, in the toilets at work. He posted the video on pornhub, linked to it on his blog, which is posted on his LinkedIn profile. When this was called out the NSPCC accused the people who were upset by this homophobic and bigoted for attacking their employee.

    1. Mathilde*

      The situations are really not the same. The employee isn’t masturbating on video. He is not even posting on LinkedIn : “Great wank at @Company today. #blessed to be part of such a great work environment. Stay inspired.”

      And to be honest… I don’t think your example is really reprehensible as well. Stupid, certainly, but not criminal. But this is not the subject of this thread.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        You don’t think someone who works for a children’s charity filming himself masturbating and posting a video is reprehensible? I gotta say, that’s pretty shocking. The filming himself for distribution AT WORK disturbs me, but the fact that he works in such an environment AND did this is pretty awful.

        People shouldn’t be masturbating at work. They shouldn’t be having sex at work with anyone, including themselves. It’s not appropriate, and that’s the least of the reasons why one shouldn’t do these things.

        1. Mathilde*

          I missed that it the video was filmed at work. Yes, in this case it is disturbing, because it could open the company to liability, and depending on the logistics of filming the act in full gear, someone could possibly have seen / heard it.

          I don’t think it changes anything that he worked for a children’s charity though. I am assuming that there aren’t children in the building (if so… this is reeeeally different).

  35. Mathilde*

    I am wondering whether it would be possible to put some really unsexy material on the walls of the bathroom. STI posters, something like that.

  36. Why not?*

    Is it actually a problem for someone to masturbate at work?

    It’s not as uncommon or weird as many apparently seem to think:

    It’s not a “biohazard” any more than (in fact much less than) feces. Making a mess is obviously a problem, but then the problem is making a mess, not masturbating. Making a mess while using the toilet is equally a problem, but it doesn’t mean using the toilet is a problem.

    If the restroom is “open to everyone” then presumably it’s an enclosed cubicle – not somewhere where someone else might walk in on them.

    Apart from the mess, is it really an issue? Does it really justify all the bathroom surveillance – which could also be used to police people with chronic conditions, heavy periods, etc. – suggested by commenters?

    1. Grapey*

      It’s a problem if your cleaning company won’t clean it, which they have the right to stipulate.

    2. Valprehension*

      I seems pretty clear that the semen is being left where staff needs to clean it up (i.e. the stall walls/floor?) That is a biohazard, just as feces is a biohazard if it’s *not in the toilet*. Obviously know would know or care if this person was masturbating into the toilet/cleaning up after themself.

    3. SisterSpooky*

      I can see your logic here, but I think the problem is that this person (in addition to leaving a mess) isn’t doing this in such a way that others have no idea it’s happening. Going to the bathroom is something that is necessary for our bodies to function and has to happen often enough that there’s no sense in trying to hide the fact that people poop and pee in order to make everyone comfortable. Sexual release, by contrast, doesn’t have to happen frequently in order for our bodies to keep functioning (not arguing it isn’t important, but it can easily wait 8 hours while peeing cannot). It makes people uncomfortable in a way going to the bathroom doesn’t. If this person were in a single occupancy bathroom such that no one could hear them and left no mess-no harm no foul. But they are making people involuntarily subject knowing that they are sexually pleasuring themselves AND making a mess, which isn’t okay.

    4. Jadelyn*

      Using the bathroom is a biological necessity that can’t just be put on pause for 8+ hours a day.

      Getting off, fun as it may be, is something that can wait until you get home.

      These are not equivalent acts that should be regarded with similar levels of tolerance.

    5. Parenthetically*

      This guy is a compulsive masturbator. That’s none of my business.

      It becomes my business when he’s allowing others to hear him masturbate multiple times a day, and when he leaves his ejaculate for others to find/deal with. That is beyond “what a slob, ugh, aim better.” He pretty clearly means to do it, and gets off on others seeing the evidence of his masturbation. I don’t care what your kink is, but it’s wildly inappropriate to bring nonconsenting people into it.

      No one is suggesting long-term surveillance, just putting a camera in a key location until the guy is caught.

    6. LW1*

      No, it isn’t a problem until it involves other people. I don’t care what people do, but if it impacts others around them and especially the people who work for the building (those who have to clean up after him), then it’s a problem.

      But I agree it does not justify surveillance, which to be honest is not feasible anyway due to cost.

  37. Mathilde*


    This would annoy me to no end. You say you don’t want him to get offended… I wonder why, since he is the one clearly violating your boundaries. Yes, this is not technically your desk, but come on…

    Do you any possibility to mistakenly throw out his stuff ? “Oh, I didn’t realise, I deep cleaned everything and didn’t think there would be your toys on my desk”. Passive aggressive, but I would do it.

    1. Rebecca*

      I can’t think of any reason to sit at a coworker’s desk when they’re not in the office for any length of time, except if they’ve asked me to log into their email to find something that they forgot to set an auto forward for, or to check if something time sensitive has arrived. I might pull their chair over and sit with another coworker to go over something, but that’s it. And leaving Legos and toy cars??? How old is this person? And why are they carrying toys around with them in the office? I mean, I could understand maybe sitting down for a business related reason and forgetting a pen, but leaving toys? It feels like territory marking to me for some reason, but I can’t put my finger on the exact feeling. I just don’t like it. I get that it’s the company’s desk, stuff, etc. but there is no business reason to leave Legos and toy cars on someone’s desk, unless you work for Lego and you’re leaving a project for your boss showing what the latest Lego kit will look like when completed compared to the toy car it’s representing.

      And please forgive me, but I can’t help myself, this reminds me of Dwight from the office, always wanting to sit in Michael’s office when Michael isn’t there, and calling himself “Assistant Manager” and Michael saying he’s the assistant to the manager.

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        Does for me too. Honestly, I think #1 and #3 are different manifestations of the same fundamental guy–Boundary Issues Man, The Super”hero” Nobody Asked For–it’s just that #1 is actively creepy while #3 is just toxic and annoying.

        1. Mathilde*

          Yes ! I completely agree.

          OP3, I don’t know if he uses your computer when he is at your desk or if he has a laptop, but any chance you could make it difficult or unpleasant for him to use your computer ? Take the cord ?

    2. Samwise*

      Toys? What toys? I don’t keep toys on my desk. Oh, your toys? Why would you be playing with toys on my desk? Haha, you’re such a joker! No, my desk is just the same as it was when I left before my trip. Haha, are you walking around with your toys? You crack me up!

    3. Lime green Pacer*

      I wouldn’t throw the toys out, but there is no way they would stay on the desk while I was using it. “Your legos? Oh, I put them away here somewhere, they were in my way.” And make sure they end up in a locked drawer or file cabinet, and it takes you several days to return them.

  38. Mathilde*


    2 remarks :
    1) You say the person does it multiple times a day. Are we sure this is just one person ? This seems… excessive. Wouldn’t that be too painful ?

    2) This is really strange. Another commenter says there is something predatory here, but I am not sure. Perhaps this person is dealing with some kind of issue, like sex addiction.

    This is why I am not comfortable with assuming right of the bat that this is the artwork of a deranged pervert.

    Would it be possible to put easy to use cleaning supplies in the bathroom (wipes etc…) and some strong worded public shaming note about the mess ? It might help to nudge this person to at least clean after themselves.
    This would be at least the first step, and see if this helps.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      For your #1, not to get too graphic here, but… some guys, and especially younger guys, can have a pretty fast “reload” time. Especially if they’re habituated to it, a dude in his 20s can probably go every couple hours. If there’s a mess every time, it sounds like one guy.

      2) I thought sex addiction as well (mindful that we’re not supposed to “diagnose” on this site), or could be some kind of public kink. I think what people are viewing as “aggressive” might be more that he’s leaving “evidence” behind. Just suggests he either wants people to know or doesn’t care if they do.

      In my country (Canada), I do suspect this would run afoul of public decency laws, akin to a couple having sex in a public place. But given the frequency, I’m also guessing this guy is, uh, quick, and that cops likely wouldn’t show up in time.

      Is there any building security? Might be something to consider, I’ve worked in a number of buildings that had security guards in the lobby/public areas.

      1. Mathilde*

        Ah, thank you for the precision ! :) I find myself ill-equiped to estimate how frequently to use one’s joystick without it becoming unpleasant.

      2. LW1*

        Yup, there’s building security. They can visit this restroom more frequently… that’s a good idea. Thanks!

  39. restingbutchface*

    #1 – yeah, this may be one you can’t control. My only thought is – that ain’t music. It’s porn with a banging soundtrack. I find it difficult to believe someone could masturbate to climax multiple times a day without additional, uh, stimulation. Installing a phone blocker will at least help with that issue, especially if there is a sign explaining that due to employees using the bathroom for inappropriate reasons.

    1. Mathilde*

      Great idea, if enforcable. Is it possible to have a phone blocker restricted to the bathroom, though ? It could be annoying if all cellphones usage on the floor was blocked because of that.

      1. restingbutchface*

        It is possible because I installed one at work a couple of years ago and it was irritatingly perfect. Complete dead zone.

        (Caveat, this was a security issue not a porn issue but two birds, one stone)

    2. Batgirl*

      This makes a lot of sense. One of the signs of porn addiction is indulging in it with high frequency, especially during work hours. Also, a porn addict who is hiding it may not have as much privacy at home as they feel they have on a different floor of a busy building.

    3. Harper the Other One*

      Someone who’s high libido could absolutely masturbate that many times in a day – hard to understand for those with lower libido but absolutely possible (and normal – well, the frequency, not the choice of location.) I think it’s equally likely as someone else suggested that the music is to cover up any sounds.

      1. restingbutchface*

        Could they physically? Sure, why not, although I imagine chafing maybe a concern. But the fact they *are doing this at work* and *taking a phone with them* is the flag for me that this isn’t someone’s high and healthy libido. Being healthy does not include putting your job and co-workers comfort over your libido.

        So yes, I find it difficult to see this as healthy.

    4. Observer*

      A filter of any sort is not going to work on a cell signal. And a Cell Phone Jammer (or blocker) is illegal for private users.

    5. LJay*

      Phone blockers and wifi jammers are illegal in the US as far as I know, so I wouldn’t jump to that solution without additional research.

      You wouldn’t want to leave someone unable to call 911 in an emergency in the bathroom because their signal has been jammed.

      1. restingbutchface*

        And I’m not in the US, so yeah, OP should do their own research. But I’m surprised to hear that as the majority of secure worksites I’ve known, US and abroad, have a similar set up as a security control (although usually with a PSTN line available within a certain number of feet for emergencies).

  40. Batgirl*

    LW1, figure out what kind of music he listens to from these reports and pipe in some different music that’s….off beat for his purposes? My local train station used to use classical music to (successfully) stop kids from congregating there, but I can’t recommend the genre since they weren’t masturbating!

    I think the way to flush him out (everything’s a pun with this guy) is to close down toilets for specialist cleaning. Someone with his specialised interest would need a variety of toilets on different floors. If he realises that he’s closing his best toilets then he might realise the need to be a bit more discreet if nothing else. I work in a boys school where toilet pranks (flooding etc) is common and the building managers make use of the hallway cameras to catch the person. They struggle until the boys are down to one toilet and then it’s easier to catch them.

    1. The Wall Of Creativity*

      Or if you can find out what music it is, pump it out over the office intercom. Then wait and see who heads to the gents with his body hunched over.

    1. Jamie*

      Me too. I hope they come to the comment section to clarify the music thing…if people know they listen to music during then why can’t they isolate who is doing it.

      Am I the only one picturing him going in with an 80’s style boombox for accompaniment? Do we know John Cuzak’s whereabouts while this is going on?

      1. LW1*

        I don’t know. My assumption is the guy is wearing earbuds (or not), and when other people walk in there they hear the music (and maybe some other noises? none have been reported) and scuttle out of there as fast as possible. I mean, no one wants to be washing their hands when the office masturbator comes out of the stall.

        Truthfully I think at least one person knows who it is. I said in another thread that the janitorial staff probably knows and is too afraid to say anything, but thinking on it more, they usually wait outside the restroom until it’s clear before going in to clean. And they haven’t reported witnessing/music hearing – only the cleanup part, which could be hours afterward. They only clean the restrooms twice daily.

  41. Christmas*

    #1: Sorry, but you’re probably going to have to lock the bathrooms and have staff check out keys. It’s just at that point. Not only to stop what’s happening, but as a safety and health issue. I bet a lot of people will actually be relieved, despite the inconvenience of having to ask for a key.

    There is no clever or stern enough wording of a sign that will discourage this. The guy knows and enjoys what he is doing. Also, I suspect that other people in the building have an idea who’s doing it but are uncomfortable telling on him, especially if people have reported noticing the person listening to the music inside the bathroom. No matter how egregious this guys behavior is, many people feel too awkward or reluctant to “tell” and see somebody get a serious consequence.

    Not only will locking the bathrooms be a deterrent, it might motivate witnesses to go ahead and report the culprit. Because having to ask for bathroom keys is aggravating.

    1. CheeryO*

      Yes, this. It’s fun to think of pithy signs, but this is what is going to get him caught. Someone HAS to know or have a strong clue as to who this is. Give them a reason to snitch.

  42. Caticorn*

    I wonder if the janitor refusing to clean (with the support of OP/building management) the affected bathroom might put some more social pressure on the offender to stop.. as in, closing off access to that particular bathroom stall (punny biohazard sign optional) then limits the number of stalls available, and presumably if you do this every time there’s a jizz-cident, you’ll soon be left with very few working stalls, so a) annoyance among the other building tenants, leading to a sort of social-surveillance situation, and b) a queue for the limited remaining stalls, making it harder (heh) for the culprit to do their business as obviously as they have been until now.

    Seems unfair to the other, normal, toilet-users, but maybe that’s a price worth paying…

    I also like the comment above about providing cleaning supplies in each stall with a sign asking them to clean up after themselves.

    1. Valprehension*

      Eh, if a person if leaving evidence of masturbation multiple times per day, it’s really not that they havne’t thought about cleaning up after themself. Dollars to donuts, they are specifically turned on by leaving that mess. Pointing it out would probably just be playing into that.

  43. The Wall Of Creativity*

    I don’t care how much DNA tests cost – surely it’s worth it on this occasion just to give everybody something to talk about for years to come.

    One important question first though. If the monkey choker had had a vascectomy and was no longer firing swimmers, would this be like “number withheld” if his calling card was put through a DNA test? Just asking for a friend.

    1. A tester, not a developer*

      Shed cells are found in pretty much every bodily secretion (e.g. earwax contains shed cells from the inside of the ear, tears have shed cells from your eyelids). The DNA wouldn’t be as… plentiful, but it would be there.

      1. fposte*

        I think it’s a phenomenally stupid, expensive, and likely pointless thing to do, but I wonder if it would be technically okay under GINA if it was done by building management and not the employer. It doesn’t look like the building would be a covered entity.

      2. SF*

        Thank you, came in here to say this. If anyone is skeptical that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act would apply here (assuming the LW is in the US) look up the 2015 “case of the devious defecator” in an Atlanta warehouse. The company was ordered to pay out 2.25 million dollars for making two employees take DNA tests in a similar situation.

  44. Myrin*

    #1, I might be mis-imagining this situation but I don’t quite get how people simultaneously know this is happening and yet no one knows who this guy is. I know that I’m more straightforward and confrontational than many but has there really been no one curious enough to wait outside for him to wrap it up and actually take note of his identity? They don’t even have to confront him or anything, just linger around the area for a bit – unless this is an exercise in stamina and endurance for him, it won’t take hours for him to actually come out there.

    I actually think that’s the first step for you, OP. I don’t know what your workday looks like but can you clear like one morning or afternoon to deal with stuff in that building so that you can jump into action immediately once the sweet tunes start? (Or, and look around the bathroom and maybe take pictures beforehand so there aren’t any “uh-uh, wasn’t me!” shenanigans.) From there, I’m somewhat torn between talking to him directly and looping his boss in but then I’m thinking “Why not both?”.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I was wondering that. Even if they don’t know his name, surely somebody has waited to see if this is an officemate doing this and seen what the guy looks like? Or maybe he waits them out–after he’s done, he hangs out with his music longer than anybody would wait outside the door. (I would check shoes, but that’s probably too much to ask of others.)

      Another justification for talking to the tenants, I guess.

    2. Thoughts*

      Yeah. My guess is that some of them have some idea of who it is but didn’t feel comfortable naming names.

    3. LW1*

      I don’t quite get it either and I agree with you. Honestly they are complaining about it but being unhelpful when it comes to details. So either they truly don’t know (perhaps they turn a blind eye) or they do know and they don’t want to confront it so they’re making it building management’s responsibility.

      The thing is, I can’t really interrogate them about it.

      I think what needs to happen is more frequent, sustained visits to that restroom by various building staff members (in an effort to identify him ourselves). SIGH.

  45. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    #3: I would find that extremely annoying. Sure, it’s technically the company’s desk, rather than yours, but the company assigned this space to you and your colleagues need to respect that.

    At a couple of workplaces, there have been times when I have returned to the office to find a guest chair missing (someone needed it for the conference room and didn’t bother to return it), the cap to a pen chewed up, Post-It pads curled up from playing with them, and my desk just not the same as I how left it. (This was usually after we had out of town colleagues in for a meeting or when there was a a meeting in the conference room near my desk.) I just find that so disrespectful. If someone is going to use someone else’s desk, they shouldn’t help themselves to the contents of the desk and should leave the desk and everything on it in the same condition they found it.

    I also had a situation where my boss was in town to accompany me to a client meeting. A couple of remote co-workers and I met at the office and went to lunch with our boss beforehand. One co-worker had the flu at the time but attended anyway because she wanted to discuss something with our boss. After lunch, she sat at my desk to get some work done while our boss and I went to our client meeting. I returned to the office after the meeting to finish up my day. After that, I got the worst flu I ever had. I was so sick for a couple of weeks (and I rarely get sick) and it caused a few negative repercussions for me on the job. This person should not have used my desk and really should have stayed home and talked to the boss via Skype or phone. It was self-centered of her to do that.

    Unfortunately, it’s sometimes impossible to never have anyone use your desk, though. I once worked for a company where some of us were remote and others worked at the office. When remote people worked from the office from time to time, we would sit at whatever desk was vacant, whether it was an OOO colleague’s desk or one that was actually empty, depending on availability. Desk space was limited, so we sometimes had to sit at someone else’s desk. Of course we would opt for the truly empty desks before sitting at a co-worker’s desk. And we definitely didn’t leave toys there! It doesn’t sound like this is OP#3’s situation, though.

  46. nora*

    RE: #1, someone spending that much time in the bathroom surely is causing other issues with their, ahem, workload. I would talk to the various bosses/department heads/etc and have them look out for someone who’s away from their desk a bit too often or doing weird stuff online or both. I reckon that would root out the offender.

    1. Jamie*

      Not necessarily. I have times where I spend a lot of time in the bathroom (due to a kidney issue, not an excess of excitement over SQL statements) and I manage my workload.

      I doubt whomever is doing this is settling in for some quality time with himself…could be faster than dealing with having bad clams for lunch.

    2. Meh*

      We have an employee who spends tons of time in the bathroom almost every day, and it’s been pointed out to bosses and HR because it was affecting their workload…but nothing was ever done about it. The person has never spoken about or volunteered that they have a health condition that would account for two hours a day in the bathroom, so it has crossed the mind that this person is doing more…nefarious things. It’s gross to think that this person may be in there doing the same thing as the culprit in #1 post and they’re getting paid a high salary to do that instead of their actual job.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I worked with a guy who did this. His cubicle was situated such that he couldn’t screw around on the Internet discreetly, so he’d spend hours in a bathroom stall on his smartphone. No porn involved as far as I’m aware. He eventually got fired for unrelated reasons.

  47. Random commentor*

    I’m curious how they know he’s masturbating while the music’s playing. Are there audible cues?

    The janitor’s evidence wouldn’t be found until long after the event has happened.

  48. Morning reader*

    Re the masturbator: I think this is an employee behavior problem if someone is spending that much time multiple times a day away from their work for a recreational activity. However that is not the property manager’s problem. I am incredulous that this amount of “biological fluid” is such a problem. I’ve cleaned men’s bathrooms professionally (summer cleaning job at golf course in college), and I’ve been in a few despite not being male myself, and this bit of fluid seems like the least of the problems I’ve seen in those places. Also, women’s bathrooms are no picnic. Piss on the seat, blood on the seat… at least it’s not on the floors and walls in the women’s rooms, usually.
    The “sexual harassment” angle is there if this is a shared bathroom where someone else could come in and notice this activity, or if the fluid left seems to be intentionally left where the next person would encounter it, like on the door handle. Otherwise, I think this is private activity, like any other private activity in a bathroom, and there is no reason to attempt to monitor it.

    My advice, if it’s useful at all: alert the managers (of employees) in the building you manage so that, if it’s a performance problem with one employee, they can address it. Add individual bathrooms to the facility if possible. (This is good for other reasons anyway.) Add extra protective gear to your cleaning supplies, from extra long gloves to full hazmat suit, whatever you find necessary. Then increase your fees to cover this extra cleaning.

    For dealing with the employee problem, I wonder if this would work, or be legal? Not for the property manager but for the employee managers who have been alerted to the problem. Gather the male employees (or email them all) and say something like, “this is awkward, but someone is regularly leaving ejaculate sprayed around the bathroom stalls in a way that appears to be sexual harassment of other employees and our cleaning contractors. If we can figure out who it is, we will be taking disciplinary action. In the meantime, we ask that you spread the word that this is not acceptable workplace behavior, and if it’s one of you, please stop before we figure it out and I have to have an even more awkward conversation.”

  49. Oregano*

    For #1, would it be possible for you to leave signs in the bathroom saying that if you see the office masturbator in action (or however you want to phrase this), to call you immediately, and put your phone number on the sign? Then you could hang out in the building for a few days so you’re there if you get a call, and you can see who it is, at least.

    As for the difficult conversation…God be with you!

    1. Oregano*

      Maybe you could phrase the bathroom sign as “If you notice any unusual activity, please call the property manager immediately at XXX-XXXX.”

  50. ewe*

    I know a lot of people are joking about DNA testing, but if there’s anyone out there who isn’t joking, I’d just like to point out that unless you know the employee’s family members, and they have also happened to joined Ancestry, it’s not going to result in any useful info. Also, as far as I know, Ancestry only processes saliva.

    1. Auntie Social*

      The easiest way to test is using a buccal swab, but I think you could submit other material not as easily acquired.

      1. Alli525*

        If I worked at a DNA testing company that explicitly sent out cheek-swab kits with clear directions about how DNA should be collected… and then received a vial of cum instead of spit… I would immediately dispose of the kit without testing it. No way. There’s no amount of money (below $100k, which certainly no intake associate at 23andMe is making) that would compel me to actually process that.

        1. fposte*

          There are labs that test other bodily fluids for DNA. I think ewe was imagining a situation where the semen was sampled but that the building didn’t go through the whole “test everybody” rigmarole, and instead compared the DNA results from the semen sample to existing publicly accessible databases. Which is actually more reasonable than testing the whole building but is, as ewe suggests, likely to faill

          Though given that nobody’s likely to be doing anything DNA-related it’s a moot point.

  51. LGC*

    Oh my GOD, LW1. I’m horrified that y’all have to deal with this. I’m SO sorry – all of this sounds AWFUL!

    (And like, MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY?! Either your perp has a frightening amount of stamina…or you have more than one culprit. I’m not entirely sure which would be worse.)

    Anyway. I don’t know if you yourself can handle it unless you catch him in the act, so to speak. This sounds like something the tenants (I.e., the companies in the building) need to handle because they’re the ones that can impose direct consequences (like firing this guy).

    Also, this might be a good time to send a message to the tenants in the building that there is a serial masturbator and it’s causing issues.

  52. Morning reader*

    Maybe it’s joking but I find the idea of dna testing in this case very disturbing. There is no crime being committed. There is not even an identified employee behavior problem (if employer isn’t having a problem with excessive time away from the desk.) someone is just being too messy in the bathroom. What next, testing strands of hair to figure out who’s spending too much grooming in there? Testing the bloody stuff that is not flushed to find out who’s on their period? I think an employee should have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the bathroom. Even in Orwell’s 1984 people could go in the bathroom for whispered unmonitored conversations. Absolutely not on the DNA testing.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      It is not okay to go smear your effluvia around a public restroom, just because you get turned on by the idea of other people having to deal with it. And would viably fall under sexual harassment.

      I don’t buy that he always fails to notice he completely missed the bowl, rather than that being a very deliberate choice on his part and inherent in the thrill.

      1. Jennifer*

        Of course, what he is doing is gross and wrong but the office doesn’t get to violate the privacy of every man there to catch him. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    2. Arctic*

      DNA testing is obviously a joke since it would be way too expensive and unlikely to actually result in an ID (someone would have to have a match.)
      But if it were viable it should be done. Because it is a private bathroom and the landlords get to set reasonable. This person is behaving so egregiously that he should be fired immediately.

      1. Morning reader*

        Fired for a private activity in a place where one should be able to expect privacy? Wow.

        Sure if it’s intentional harassment. Otherwise how is it anyone’s business?

        I’m thinking that most of the male employees in this building must be unusually clean for this to even register. But then my workplaces have mostly been in public buildings (libraries) where the restrooms are used by the public, so maybe my perspective is off. If it’s not blood, pee or crap, used needles, passed out patrons, or overflowing toilets, I just don’t see what the big deal is. Don thicker gloves and get on with it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The entire existence of the letter, and problem, is because this isn’t fun for him if it remains a private activity in a private place that other people don’t know about.

          I don’t think the DNA idea is serious. But deliberately spreading your bodily emissions over the bathroom walls etc because you get turned on by the idea of other people having to deal with them, that does come under sexual harassment.

          1. fposte*

            I think it can fit there psychologically. Whether it fits there legally or not is a call I think an experienced employment lawyer would need to make.

        2. LJay*

          I agree that DNA testing in this case seems invasive and a bridge too far.

          But it really wouldn’t have to be an unusually clean restroom for a splatter of someone’s cum to be noticeable and out of the ordinary.

      2. pancakes*

        I thought DNA was how a New Jersey town found its mystery pooper a couple years ago, but my memory was incorrect, the town used security cameras. The problem area was a high school track, and it turned out to be a school superintendent from another district!

    3. big X*

      Didn’t two people win 2.2mil, can’t remember where, because someone was relieving themselves around the office (in the 2nd way) and for some reason, they suspected these employees and ran a DNA test to exclude them as suspects? It’s actually a violation of some law; probably not in general but since they didn’t consent and because there is no true crime being investigated that would authorize this.

      1. Observer*

        Correct. I just posted about it. The law in question is GINA (The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008)

      1. Mathilde*

        I can just image the letter to Alison.

        “Dear AMA, my manager has asked me to provide a sample of my DNA in order to see if I am the person who has been masturbating in the bathroom. Is it normal ? This is my first job out of college.”

    4. Observer*

      Sorry, this behavior is TOTALLY unacceptable. And the fact that he’s being messy about it moves it to “gross but what are you going to do” to “Needs to stop NOW!” Which means that he’s just given up his right to privacy in the bathroom, much the same as though he were doing any other recognizably wrong thing (eg using the bathroom to send company secrets.)

      Testing the DNA *IS* a problem, though, if you are in the US. GINA would almost certainly apply. There was a case a few years ago where an employer required cheek swabs to test DNA – they were trying to find someone who was pooping in the aisles. Two guys sued and basically hit the jackpot in terms of their payout.

      Google “devious defecator” for more information.

  53. always in email jail*

    I typed this as a reply above but didn’t want it to get buried.
    I worked in a building with a slightly similar situation. Someone was coming to our floor and spreading feces in a stall. This wasn’t a floor open to the public, it was someone who worked in the building. Signs did not work. We went with the assumption it wasn’t anyone who worked on the floor where it was occurring and made that restroom accessible only with a key. Keys were issued only to people who worked on that floor. This put an end to it and they didn’t reappear on another floor.

  54. Probably Nerdy*

    #1, my 2 cents:

    a. Close the bathroom for a few days with a sign that says something about biohazard

    b. Call all the tenants of the building and frame it like biohazard and sexual misconduct. Act like there isn’t just one perp.

    c. wait a while and repeat until people get sick of it. If it moves to other bathrooms, close those bathrooms temporarily too.

    The point is something resembling ‘malicious compliance’ until the tenants are annoyed enough to solve their own employee problem. You are now the strictest soup nazi building manager ever.

  55. Samwise*

    OP #1: Ask folks to alert you when there’s music coming from the bathroom. Go to that bathroom when you get the word. I think you should say something to the perpetrator, otherwise, when you report to the manager he can just deny it.

    Then report it to his manager.

    Then his manager can tell the perpetrator: this is unacceptable behavior in a professional office. Stop it now. Seriously. Why is this any harder than any other difficult or awkward conversation? It’s inappropriate behavior and it has to stop.

    1. Jamie*

      It’s difficult and harder than other awkward conversations because it’s so outside the norms of what adults normally have to deal with at work.

      I never had this issue, but at two different companies we had major, recurring problems of employees smearing poop throughout the bathrooms. On the walls, faucets, flusher thing, mirror, etc. One creative perpetrator always hit the door handles.

      My first time dealing with this was as an office manager, early in my career. Second time was year later as upper management and both times had no freaking idea on how to address it. Both times went with signs, group announcements.

      The thing is you need to be positive you’re right before you call someone into your office to speak with them about why they are smearing their feces …and this OP is facing the same type of quandary.

      1. LW1*

        There are so many Corporate America types out there that love smearing their poop everywhere. It is astonishing.

  56. Jennifer*

    Maybe you can meet with the managers of each company at the bldg and talk to them about it discreetly. They may have an idea who it is. A bldg wide email might help also. Kind of a “you aren’t as slick as you thought you were and we’re onto you” warning. But if this guy is beyond shame, that won’t work.

    1. restingbutchface*

      “You aren’t as slick as you thought you were”… but the bathroom floor is so STOP IT, YAH CREEP.

  57. HH*

    How do they know this guy is listening to music but still don’t know who he is? This tells me that at least one person knows who he is. How else would you be able to equate music with this “event”? Music = body fluids. It’s just strange that everyone seems to know it’s the music man but no one knows who he is??

  58. Cats on a Bench*

    Go old school. Hire a bathroom attendant. Give him the job of keeping the sinks and trash tidy. And cleaning mirrors, stocking paper towels, handing out gum, etc. But his main job is to identify the culprit. But then you need to talk to the guy and tell him to stop. I think I’d talk directly to him before involving his employer. But if he kept doing it, then I’d involve the employer and, if you have the power, tell them it needs to stop or their lease is at risk. They can choose how to manage the employee at that point knowing the risk they are taking.

  59. Goya de la Mancha*

    “You have found a major hole in my skill set for this column. Can anyone out there help solve this?”

    Way to go #1, you broke Allison

        1. valentine*

          Work discussions boil down to telling someone they stink. I’d rather tell someone they’ve got the wrong idea about emissions inspections than that they physically stink and need to bathe with water and soap, or I suspect they never learned reading comprehension.

    1. Former Non Profit*

      I think this is also a situation where professionalism doesn’t apply, like if an emu is running around your office.

      1. Jamie*

        If the emu didn’t take long conference calls on speakerphone he might be the most professional in some offices.

        1. Quill*

          Lol I’d be fine with a workplace large bird, theoretically, but in practice…

          I think I’d be a little bit casso-wary.

          1. Scarlet Magnolias*

            Like when I saw a documentary on sea life with 2 eels mating, the voice over said they were conger eels, I said “NO! That’s a moray!
            Sorry. couldn’t help it

        1. Jamie*

          “but I have no idea what’s going to happen next. And neither do any of you, and neither do your parents, because there’s a horse loose in the hospital!”

          Your John Mulaney reference made my day!

  60. Me*

    This may be one of the few times a building wide email is appropriate. Direct is best, but it’s really hard when you don’t know who to direct it with.

    I was once responsible for a building that had old janky plumbing. Someone did a number 2 and realized it wouldn’t flush. So obviously the best choice was to pile toilet paper on top of it like icing on a poop cake because that’s how adults handle things?!

    I sent an email stating there was an issue in the ladies restroom over the weekend resulting in a much more difficult and unsanitary to resolve situation for the maintenance crew than was necessary had it simply been reported. In the future please report, anonymously if need be, any problems to me immediately. The culprit knew who they were and were hopefully embarrassed.

    If this guy is a reasonable sort aside from this one issues, he will be embarrassed in which case your problem should disappear. You don’t need to specifically call out the behavior, but can say something along the lines of inappropriate behavior occurring in the restrooms resulting in unsanitary conditions for other employees and custodial staff. If it continues, I vote lock, stalk and address with employees manager.

    Also ew.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      Apparently WAY too many adults suffer under this misconception. I have encountered it and had to clean it up far too often. I’m glad that you were able to halt the issue.

    2. fposte*

      IME it’s often not the contributor who realizes there’s a clog. My specialty is going into a bathroom with an unflushed toilet, saying “Oh, they didn’t flush,” flushing it, and watching the overflow. In my case it happens to be true (I would tell you all, honest), but that’s also a good cover story for people; it changes the approach from “If you clog a toilet” to “If you discover a toilet is clogged.”

  61. Hiring Mgr*

    On #1, don’t forget to include the janitorial staff in the investigation. This reminds me of the missing strawberries in The Caine Mutiny–sometimes the correct answers are the most obvious ones.

  62. just trying to help*

    Many years ago, in high school, the school removed the stall doors in the men’s bathrooms to keep people from smoking and doing drugs away from prying eyes. Obviously, this removes any sense of privacy most people need when using the bathroom, but it might solve the problem.
    This why we can’t have nice things.

    1. Jamie*

      That’s a horrible way to treat children. And in a workplace it’s a great way to get the non-offending workers to work from home until doors are back.

      And by non-offending workers I mean literally everyone else.

    2. Purt's Peas*

      In that case, the reason you couldn’t have nice things was that the school authorities possessed an overwhelming entitlement and control over the vulnerable people in their care; and misused their authority over school facilities to emphasize the existence of the educational panopticon.

      In short, that was gross, disturbing, dystopian, and the fault of the administrators rather than the students. I think it’s best not to replicate that in the workplace.

    3. Tinker*

      As someone who exclusively uses the stalls, for Reasons, and who does not necessarily want his coworkers to be looking at the Reasons: extremely no.

    4. Observer*

      Doors on bathroom stalls are NOT “nice things”, they are basic requirements. I could just see the law suits coming out of any such attempt.

      The fact that a school thought that this was an appropriate way to deal with drug problems in the school speaks to how terrible the school administration was at doing its job, not to how acceptable such a thing is.

      Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that a school would do something like this. An Arizona PS *strip searched* a student because a student facing school punishment offered this girls name as the source of her contraband – which happened to be a couple of prescription strength ibuprofen pills. Then they doubled down and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court!

      Link to follow.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        At that point many (and who knows perhaps they still do) schools have/had open shower stalls or communal showers, I can see removal of stall doors to be seen as not extreme in a situation where students were expected to perform similar acts in public view.

    5. M*

      I’d literally quit a job on the spot if my employer agreed to the premises staff doing this, and I sincerely doubt I’d be alone in doing so.

    6. Dahlia*

      You mean boy’s bathroom. High school involves young teenagers, most of whom are under eighteen, not men. Boys who could not go to the bathroom privately and possibly gave themselves kidney injuries.


  63. ToastForBreakfast*

    LW1 – Talk to the network admins. If there’s a WiFi router near the bathroom, and this person is listening to “music”, their phone traffic might be traceable.

  64. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    I don’t know all the background for the case, but a self proclaimed sex addict lost a Humans Rights case in Canada for masturbation at work, where it was one if not the only reasons he was fired was for masturbation. Iirc/I would assume people felt that it falls under sexual harassment.

      1. Curious*

        Interesting. I also wondered if this could be a medical thing. Hyper-arousal due to an underlying condition or medication side effect (or, as one person pointed out, a guy trying to get a “sample” to drop off at a fertility clinic). It doesn’t sound like that’s the situation here since he’s leaving evidence to clean up, but if one of those situations applied would the employer need to accommodate it? I could see letting him use a one-holder bathroom (though going to HR with such a request would prohibitively mortifying …).

  65. Falling Diphthong*

    OP3, I wonder if your coworker views his little toy and Lego nests as a sign of his quirky personality, which inevitably charms his colleagues?

  66. MMB*

    Op 1. As a property manager you’re already aware that you have several issues to deal with here. The comfort and safety of multiple tenants and visitors, the health and safety of your staff and the difficult to navigate arena of perception. I.E., how tenants perceive your role/responsibility in this and how they will respond to any actions you take and the perceived inconvenience or potential for invasion of privacy. Some good ideas have been mentioned in previous posts and if your budget allows I’d start with those. Install either keyed, numeric or fobbed locks and assign businesses floor only/area only access. Issue a notice that this is being done in order to address safety concerns make sure the notice is very public. Once the situation is confined to one particular restroom and you know which business that restroom is linked to, notify that business that due to the inappropriate use of the facility a bio-hazard cleaning fee will be assessed for each and every instance. After that, it’s on the tenant to determine which of their employees is behaving inappropriately and deal with it. Treat it the same way you would treat any other act of vandalism or disruptive behavior. If the tenant fails to comply refuse to renew their lease or only agree to renew at a much higher rate.

  67. Arctic*

    People like the fellow causing OP #1 such problems bet on people going by social norms. Not being willing to discuss gross or indelicate topics.

    Don’t let them. Send out a building-wide email explaining the problem. Put up signs. And saying it needs to stop. It won’t make the guy stop (the possible attention is probably part of the thrill) but it will make others aware and might recognize the guy when he comes out. Some manager may very well recognize that “hey, I think that’s Buddy.”

    1. Cranky Neighbot*

      I have no idea how to solve this problem, but I agree with your first paragraph. The person doing this is probably counting on the issue seeming impossible to address.

  68. No Way*

    In LW1’s situation, a similar thing happened at my old office. Multiple people knew it was happening based on…sounds…and finally a VP(!) reported it to HR. When HR had to awkwardly confront the guy, he said he was scratching his arm! Since no one could actually see to catch him in the act, there wasn’t too much they could do. He was apparently clean about it I guess. The whole situation makes me cringe. I would assume it falls into some specific category for grounds for firing, but I’m just not sure.

  69. yala*

    This isn’t realistic, but I kind of like the idea of waiting for the music, then having everyone in the area line up on either side of the restroom door so that when he comes out, he’s just greeted by a silent, disapproving gauntlet of shame. (Septa ringing a bell and chanting “Shame! Shame!” optional)

  70. Jan*

    How do they know it’s the offender who’s listening to music? If somehow they do, and it’s several times a day, just wait til you hear music? However, I’m not sure what you or anyone would say to this person! Several times a day!!!!

    1. valentine*

      I’m not sure what you or anyone would say to this person!
      “Stop masturbating at work. It’s revolting, unprofessional, and constitutes sexual harassment and vandalism.”

  71. Ambrianne*

    Allison, perhaps you should repost the other four questions at a later time so someone might actually read and comment. ;)

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Agreed – this isn’t the first time one question completely crowded out the others! This one deserved its own post.

  72. HailRobonia*

    Whenever someone else has used my desk, I always feel like one of the bears from Little Red Riding Hood. “Who’s been sitting in my chair! The arms and back are all messed up! Who’s been using my pens? My good ones are all gone. Who the ^*#*$& took my left-handed scissors!”

    1. Jamie*

      Who the ^*#*$& took my left-handed scissors!”

      I am generally opposed to capital punishment, but in that case I would be totally on board with a public beheading.

    2. Emelle*

      That is me when I get in my car after my husband drives it. I have to adjust everything.

      Leave No Trace is not just for camping and hiking people!

  73. Aiani*

    We are currently having a somewhat similar issue to OP #1 at my workplace. We have someone peeing on the floors of one of our restrooms and it’s an amount of urine that leads everyone to believe that it’s on purpose, not just someone aiming badly.

    Currently our plan to catch them is that security is checking the restroom frequently and noting when there are signs of the crime on the floor and when there aren’t to give us a time frame of when this is happening. That and there is a CCTV camera in the hallway outside of the restroom so we can narrow down the times and then see who has entered the restroom at these times. This kind of works because our company already has a lot of security cameras on site. Hopefully we catch them soon so everyone can stop wasting time thinking about someone’s gross habits and the janitorial staff can stop having to clean it up. That’s who really suffers in these situations, the people who have to clean up.

    1. LW1*

      I fully commiserate! That is so gross, and awful for the janitorial staff to deal with.

      People are truly disgusting.

    2. tangerineRose*

      If when they finally catch these people, the perpetrators should have to spend a lot of time cleaning up this type of thing that others have done.

    3. Joielle*

      I vaguely remember a similar letter from a few years ago (?) where someone suggested moisture detectors/alarms under the toilets. I think in that case it was someone putting a ton of toilet paper in the toilet and flushing to make it overflow. But yeah, you can buy battery-powered sensors that set off an alarm when they get wet. Ostensibly for detecting, like, a sump pump failure or something – but might work here too!

  74. HailRobonia*

    There are medical conditions (I think testicular- or prostate-related) where people are advised to masturbate regularly. The fact that this person is leaving evidence, though, makes me feel that this is unlikely.

    1. LizardOfOdds*

      This. I worked in an office once where the situation in letter 1 was happening. We did identify the perp and his poor manager and the HR person had to tell him, “dude, you can’t do that here.” He said he had a medical reason for it, and he got a doctor’s note attesting to his need to use the restroom for this purpose multiple times per day. There were no remote work options at that time so the company had to find a way to accommodate. So freaking awkward.

    2. pancakes*

      In the unlikely event that’s the case he absolutely has to clean up after himself, though. Leaving anything behind is inexcusable, and easily preventable.

      Is there a wastebasket in this particular bathroom, though? Women’s & single rooms always have them but I’m not sure men’s rooms do. If there isn’t one, get a sturdy one with an auto-open cover. Can’t hurt.

  75. Lepidoptera*

    Make one stall “out of order”, go inside, lock the door, and stake out the washroom from there.
    You’ll hear him soon enough.

    1. valentine*

      That may work in the UK, but not the US, where the stall doors have gaps and are several inches off the floor. You’d look like the weirdo, sitting in the bathroom all day.

      1. Isabel Kunkle*

        Stand on the toilet: movies/TV have informed me that this is how to hear your HS friends talking shit about you in the girls’ room, anyhow.

  76. Mayor of Llamatown*

    There’s a lot of advice here suggesting that OP #1 should put up a sign, send out an email, etc. There is a chance that part of what the perpetrator enjoys is the knowledge that other people are encountering their messes, and that it is causing an uproar. Lots of deviant behavior revolves around the deviant being able to silently and secretly watch the reactions of their misdeeds. So an explicit sign, however satisfying, might only serve as validation of that behavior, and potentially escalate it, because you have given them exactly what they wanted – a shocked and horrified reaction. Same reason flashers flash.

    So, you have to decide: do you want to make the behavior known to all and sundry and potentially shame the perpetrator, do you want to deter the perpetrator, or do you want to catch them in the act? If you want to try shaming and see if that works, a sign is great. If you want to deter, you will have to make it harder to have unfettered access to the restroom without others knowing that they have used it, and having a key to check out the bathroom (with a log of who has checked it out) will likely do the trick. If you want to catch them, the key system also works, but you could attempt using CCTV outside the restroom (in a public area, not pointed directly at the door but in like the hallway or lobby where the restroom is located) and/or the stakeout options is a good choice.

    1. Mayor of Llamatown*

      Also when you catch them, have HR have a very explicit conversation with them. Arctic commented above that people who do this count on others being too awkward to deal with it. Someone needs to say in explicit, scientific terms what they have done and that it isn’t okay.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, this is time for the foul and fearless manager to step in. “Dude. Wank at the office again and you’re out.”

        1. cmcinnyc*

          I would prefer, “Dude. You’ve been wanking in the office and you’re out.” No “again.”

        2. Mayor of Llamatown*

          I would actually prefer the terms “masturbation” and “ejaculate”. People like this enjoy the fact that they have made others uncomfortable. Use the most clinical terms possible and don’t play into their mind games.

  77. Washed Out Data Analyst*

    Security cameras to monitor who goes into the bathrooms? That could be a way to narrow it down some. The OP would have to look for a correlation between people reporting the incident and the person going into the bathroom at that time.

  78. Anon for this one.*

    On number 1, this is clearly a repeat situation so my advice isn’t 100% on point, but I would say if you notice someone only doing this once, cut them some slack for the following reason. We are dealing with fertility issues and my husband had to be tested. The sample had to be “fresh” less than 30 minutes old. However, they don’t provide a space to do it at the testing facility! They require you to bring it with you. What do you do if you live/work more than 30 minutes away? He was luckily always able to make it work where he could run home before dropping it off but after talking to other friends that have been through this, their husbands resorted to coffee shop bathrooms, cars, and workplace bathrooms. They were mortified but you have to do what you have to do when you are in this situation. So, if you catch someone, don’t automatically assume they are a perv.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      In that situation, though, wouldn’t they be taking the outcome with them rather than leaving it all over the bathroom for the cleaning crew to wipe up? And even if there were drips/misfires, wouldn’t your husband or your friends wipe it up rather than leaving it for the custodial crew to clean up? I’d cut slack for the wanking, but have zero tolerance for leaving the mess for others to take care of.

      1. Anon for this one*

        Oh exactly! No excuse for a mess. I’m just saying there is occasionally medically necessary wanking outside of the home. I was sooooo annoyed with the facility though for not having a space to do it.

    2. Alex*

      How can the facility not have a space to do it? Do they not have a bathroom? How is their bathroom inadequate when a coffee shop bathroom will do? I don’t understand.

  79. hankyPanky*

    #1 — Library Director here. You would not believe what I’ve had to deal with regarding restrooms. Unfortunately I have to agree with the commentor (s) above about locking the bathroom. Aside from setting up a bathroom attendant this is pretty much the only thing you can do. Yes, you can install cameras outside the bathrooms but that won’t really solve the issue unless someone darts in the bathroom after each use to check the stalls. Signs will not work, might even egg him on.

    I know my sister works in an office where all staff have to enter an ID code when they go to the restroom. Its super annoying but I know why they do it. Maybe look into a system like this?

    I agree that anyone annoyed by this behavior will be most likely to report something if it means the bathrooms get unlocked again. When employees complain I would even go so far as to say someone has been engaging in activities that leave the bathroom a risk to workplace health and safety. I’d then say that should they find the restroom dirty when they enter to please notify management immediately. This should stop the behavior.

    I don’t think this would be an issue if he wasn’t sloppy and presumably noisy. But since he is not it is something you HAVE to stop.

    1. Mayor of Llamatown*

      The OP could set up a schedule of checking the bathroom each hour and noting when messes show up, to help them review CCTV footage and narrow it down. Since this is happening multiple times a day, it may only take a couple days to find the common denominator. This will take up some time, which might not be doable, but it might be something OP is willing to do since it’s so egregious, happening so often, and is frankly obnoxious. As you note, people could also be looped in to help – make sure everyone knows to report issues immediately, and you may be able to narrow it down without the stakeout.

      I would really enjoy feeling like a detective, but not everyone will have the time to expend on it.

      1. LW1*

        There aren’t cameras pointing at the restrooms (and won’t be), but I do like the idea of checking the bathroom frequently throughout the day in an effort to pinpoint who it is!

        I love being a detective but also no one has time for this garbage. :(

    2. Zennish*

      The cameras have been useful in our building, since you can correlate the timestamp on the video with the time of various complaints, and see who is going in and out…. As an added bonus, you could add a nice, large “Security Cameras in Use” sign somewhere nearby.

  80. cmcinnyc*

    OP 1, I have no better advice than anyone else on how to catch the guy, but yes, people can/do get fired for this kind of behavior. How do I know this? Back in my temping days, I worked with an older gentleman who was very self-conscious about working as an office temp. He told me he was a lawyer, but he’d been fired for serial masturbation on the job and was having trouble finding work. That he told me this, a much younger woman stuck with him during a long evening shift in a half-abandoned finance company in the dead-zone of night time Wall Street, did not make me happy, but did say something about the kind of person who masturbates at work. He looked completely normal, and he was not coming on to me or being creepy in the usual ways. So if you catch him, if his company HR has any competency (a stretch, I know), they should/will want to/have cause to drop him like a hot rock.

    1. Quill*

      Extrapolating from the fact that he told you about it, the masturbation may not have been the only problem – it could have been that he was creeping people out with it, much like OP1’s interoffice man of mystery.

  81. Archeress*

    LW #4: I’m in a similar situation and have found that my university was very supportive of cross-referencing me under my married name and my current name (still married, just a change made). If your school is accommodating, this can avoid some confusion/risk of misunderstanding. Best of luck!

  82. Database Developer Dude*

    LW1 – Okay, so some male is masturbating in the bathroom. How do we know he’s doing it in a womens’ bathroom. The LW doesn’t say, and we can’t really assume.

    LW4 – shouldn’t be an issue. The advice already given is spot on. I changed my first and middle names when I was 12. Made it legal when I was 18. When I joined the Army and got a security clearance, I disclosed this on my forms, and it’s never been an issue. When my old name comes up (rarely), I’ve got documentation…

    1. fposte*

      While I could have missed a comment, I don’t see anybody saying this is happening in the women’s bathroom. It doesn’t have to be in the women’s bathroom to be a problem.

        1. fposte*

          Sure, but I don’t see any comments where people are positing this as happening in a women’s bathroom. DDD, did you get wrong-footed by the “You may also like” thread?

    2. LW1*

      Sorry to be unclear. It’s a men’s room. “It’s open to everyone” = it’s unlocked and anyone in the building (or quite frankly anyone who feels like walking in an office building and using the restroom) can use it.

  83. Will Review Books for Food*

    I’m so sorry but I can’t stop laughing at “I am in charge of this godforsaken place”.

  84. A Nony Mouse*

    Other than the waste of time, it’s not the worst thing I have heard of in a work restroom. Maybe more of a “Can’t beat ’em” attitude is called for? Some strategically placed little waste bins and tissue dispensers? :)

  85. lilsheba*

    Wow, in what universe does someone think it’s acceptable to do that kind of thing in the bathroom at work? Keep that at home people!

  86. JB*

    I don’t have a suggestion since you can’t put a camera in there. But his line was masterfully crafted”…bodily fluids atypical for an office environment”

  87. CustServGirl*

    I haven’t read the comments so maybe this was mentioned, but for LW1, would it be possible to have a security guard stationed in the hall? Perhaps after someone uses the restroom, the guard could do a quick survey of the space. This might at least help identify what the perpetrator looks like.

    LW3- although desk space isn’t truly “personal” space, I do understand the annoyance. I’d do as Alison suggested. And maybe if you’re feeling vengeful (NOT an actual recommendation!) you can toss the left behind toys in a drawer, and tell him you threw them away? See if it stops him! ;)

    1. lilsheba*

      Yeah as far as desk as personal space…it may be the companies but it’s MY personal space while I work there, and I sure don’t want anyone sitting there when I’m not, or touching my things AT ALL.

  88. Office Manager*

    Is there a building list serv you have access to? My building does and we frequently get emails about building related items. Maybe the best you can do is send an email to the building laying out the situation and saying it’s not acceptable.

  89. Amethystmoon*

    #1 Could you post a security camera in a discreet location nearby (with audio)? Not in the bathroom, but outside of it?

  90. JoAnna*

    My suggestion for #1:

    1. Purchase an inexpensive surveillance camera.

    2. Mount it OUTSIDE the bathroom so you can monitor who is going in/out and when.

    3. Check the bathroom every half hour until it happens again, and then check the surveillance footage to see who used the bathroom during that time period.

    4. Call the perp into your office, confront him with the evidence, and fire him.

    1. fposte*

      The OP doesn’t have the power to fire, though–she’s the building manager, not the employer.

      1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        If the company isn’t willing to do anything about it, I’d be looking at the lease, and talking to a lawyer to make sure my facts were straight and not violation of the agreement or laws. Because if I were the property manager, this person would be banned from the property asalp.

  91. Hopeful*

    I don’t have any advice for #1 besides what’s already been posted, just wanted to point out this would be a perfect opportunity for a AAM/Savage Love crossover. :)

  92. Ms.C*

    LW1 – Middle school teacher here. If you would like to get to the bottom of a bathroom issue, then you need to set up a sign in / sign out and/or fob situation (whatever is more manageable for you) that should track both who is in the bathroom and when. You should alert the office managers that this system is in place to address “cleanliness complaints.” Then, you task someone in facilities with “cleaning” the bathroom every hour or at some regular interval. When the staff finds the bathroom “unclean,” you pull the logs in that time frame and you have narrowed down a pool of suspects either by individual or office. You proceed from there to those specific HR or office managers.

    These situations are the reasons why you need to sign out to go to the bathroom at school, folks!

  93. Ap answer*

    I have dealt with investigations of restroom impropriety before. Here is how you determine the culprit.
    1. Set up a discreet camera to monitor who is coming and going out of particular restroom. Do not violate privacy of employees. Think along the lines of, camera angle pointed down the hallway.
    2. Begin auditing bathroom multiple times a day. Keep a log to list date and time.
    3. When the incident takes place again, pull CCTV to list all potential suspects.
    4. Keep using the same method to eliminate other employees until the particular employee who was present in each situation is revealed.

  94. BigCityLibrarian*

    I’m the manager of a public library branch, and unfortunately, dealing with masturbators is in my skill set. We call the cops. It’s inappropriate behavior for a public building and can be considered assault, especially if children might use that bathroom. However, since this is an office building, I’m not sure if the same rules apply. It might be worth a call to the local police, though that would be an awkward conversation. In my experience, people who feel the need to masturbate in public are not easily deterred.

  95. Orange You Glad*

    #1 – Is there any language in the building lease that would address this issue? Can you assess a cleaning fee to the company whose employee is doing this?
    Of course you’d need to figure out who this is, but when you escalate the situation to the person’s employer you could threaten holding them accountable for their employee’s actions re: extra cleaning required, potential harassment issues, etc.

  96. TMI*

    Lots of comments seem to assume the offender in #1 is leaving a mess intentionally, but the letter writer mentions the mess almost as an aside, not as the main reason this is a problem or was discovered as one. Is it possible he’s getting most of his load in the toilet but missing a few spots … like leaving some brown blowback under the toilet seat when you have explosive diarrhea, or a little blood from a tampon on the lid of the trash bin. I’m pretty sure we’ve all left a little bit more of ourselves in a restroom than we’d like to admit at one time or another. Since semen is a lot less colorful than feces or menstrual blood, I could see him missing a few drops, even if he’s trying to be private. Maybe I’m totally off here, but I don’t think the letter provides enough info to assume that he’s malevolently leaving his jizz everywhere (versus trying to do his thing in a private stall and not wiping up everything) and I’m just not sure this is the male-equivalent of leaving a pair of soaking wet panties in the bathroom in order to harass others.

    1. Temperance*

      Uh, he’s jerking it in a public bathroom. It’s a bit worse than leaving period panties out in a public restroom.

      1. TMI*

        I wasn’t referring to period panties . . . another kind of wet panties. I assume that whacking off in the restroom isn’t a 100% male thing.

  97. Another anonymous girl*

    LW 1:

    A point I think is missing is that yes, shaming may stop the unwanted behavior but there’s some weird sort of deliberate public sexual exhibitionism power dynamic thing going on with The Jerk. If he stopped doing this, what would he escalate to? I agree with the other women who say they’d feel totally unsafe in an environment where this was happening on a daily basis. I’d want the guy out, like trespassed, now, with the communication that he is causing an unsafe work environment and that’s not OK. Because you care about the safety of your employees.

    Honestly while everyone is trying to figure out how to help, make the bathroom less wank-friendly, excuse or maybe not embarass him too much, this guy needs to GO. I’d hope this is approached with the safety and comfort of literally everybody else.

    This dude obviously knows exactly what he’s doing. He is a tool and even if he stops this particular thing for now, tool’s gonna tool and I guarantee it won’t be the last time he’s problematic, even with bathroom fobs or stall attendants. He’s already demonstrated a complete disregard for boundaries and norms, willfully creating a biohazard that’s both gross and completely disrespectful and it’s not going to get better even if his, uh, outlet changes and in fact his weird behavior might escalate. And even if the behavior stopped I’d be creeped out that he was still there.

    So Find the creep and show him the door. Don’t pussy foot around and be grateful you caught him before worse things happened. This is the only way to protect your people now and in the future.

    Maybe dude has some problems he needs to talk with a professional about, but that’s not you and he can seek help from the other side of the door that hopefully doesn’t hit him on the way out.

    And frankly if I was an employee there and this was clearly dealt with as the serious matter it is, I’d be grateful and more loyal to the company for looking out for me and my coworkers by not tolerating it. If they let it/him continue I’d start looking for a job where they prioritized my safety over their discomfort.

    You sound like a great building manager. Best of luck in this sticky situation.

  98. Moocowcat*

    1) “I am in charge of this godforsaken place.”
    Ah, the moment when you realize that this is YOUR circus and those are YOUR monkeys running amok.

    Or there that there is one monkey flinging biologicals around the circus anyway….

    No advice, but your entrance OP had me chuckling for days.

  99. yeah, that's happened to me*

    Ummm … am I the only person who has had an orgasm at work/school? For weird reasons that are too long to explain (medications side effects, illness, etc.) I’ve been horny in places I didn’t want to be. Cars, chairs, school, work. I’m female and, yes, I’ve taken care of the itch in the bathroom before. Does this mean I engaged I harassment? I certainly didn’t mean to harass anyone, and because I’m female and it was in a private stall I doubt anyone ever realized anything. This was a long time ago and I was very young and dumb … I wouldn’t do that now if I found myself in the same condition, but I’m also wondering what makes my situation so different from this. Just the fact that I don’t splatter because I’m female? (I don’t get the impression from LW#1 that this guy was intentionally spraying all over the place — just not cleaning up very well.)

    1. Zipzap*

      If no one heard you doing the deed and there was no evidence left behind, then no, you didn’t engage in harassment. Was it a good idea? No, but nearly as bad as what this guy is doing. People can hear him AND he doesn’t clean up well enough after himself, so he’s involving others in his actions and he’s making people profoundly uncomfortable.

    2. Isabel Kunkle*

      As per above, plenty of men manage to aim/clean up–and if he’s going to jerk it multiple times at work, he needs to be diligent. Like, “bring a pack of Handi-Wipes” diligent.

      In general, I’m of the opinion that, if nobody knows…enh, boss makes a dollar, you make a dime, go ‘head and fap on the company time. ;P

      But a) I am a pinko, and b) this also depends on *for serious nobody knows*. Which means stopping the moment someone else comes into the stall, which means no listening to music that might keep you from hearing the door opening/footsteps/etc, and also doing a waaaay better job of cleaning up. If this dude isn’t intentional, he’s record-level inconsiderate.

  100. jcarnall*

    Combining and agreeing with several suggestions upthread:

    Meet with each one of the building tenants to explain the situation and what you are going to do about it. Up to them what they explain to their employees.


    1. Building masturbator splashes his jizz inside toilet and the remains are discovered and reported –

    2. Bathroom locked. Sign posted on door:

    “Apologies, this bathroom has been closed. An unknown person working in this building is using the bathroom to masturbate in and has left ejaculate deposits which must be cleaned before the bathroom is safe to use. Following repeated complaints from janitorial staff, we are hiring a specialist cleaning firm to clean up these biohazard splashes. The bathroom will be locked until the cleaning firm has been able to schedule a visit. Please use another bathroom.” Add time/date when the contaminated bathroom was locked.

    3. Schedule the cleaning firm to visit and split the cost of the visit between each company in the building. (You will have notified the tenants you are going to do this, and explained why. Again, up to them what they tell their employees.)

    4. Post notice in entrance foyer – wherever all of the people who work in the building are bound to see it – “The bathroom on X floor is closed for cleaning from TIME DATE.” You don’t need to say WHY in a public space – it will be known through the building WHY.

    5. Repeat every time the problem occurs.

    It is just possible that your serial masturbator honestly doesn’t realise the problems caused by not wiping up after himself. If so, this will push his face in it.

    But I think it also possible that he’s getting a kick out of thinking of other people using the bathroom with his jizz splashed over the walls, and this will frustrate that kick and mean that wherever he works, he will be hearing annoyed people complaining about his stinking behaviour.

    But also, the man’s employer and fellow employees have the best chance of figuring out who it is who is doing this. And this puts the onus on them to figure it out. The cost of a cleaning firm won’t be much split between multiple firms.

  101. Cherries on top*

    LW#1 Stake out? (Assuming these are multi-toilet bathrooms.) Bring a book, hang an “out of order” sign on one of the doors or change toilet every now and then, and wait for the music.

  102. Nicole*

    Regarding #1, is there anything you can do to empower the employees that are catching it happening? I’m tempted to say leave some water cups in the bathroom, and if somebody hears it happening let them dump water into the stall. You’ll pretty quickly figure out who it is when you notice the same guy getting wet over and over again.

    because this is a bathroom there’s very little you can do that doesn’t cross into illegal territory, but if I was using that bathroom and knew that was happening I’d be pissed and want to do what I could to fight back.

  103. Fan of Toby*

    #1 – Season 9, episode 18 of “The Office” addresses Phillis’s arousal while listening to 50 Shades of Gray in the office and Toby’s dilemma. Comedy probably isn’t the answer, but it makes me feel better.

  104. When A Stranger Comes*

    Anonymous donor calling custodial services on speaker phone: “…Have you checked the bathrooms lately?”
    Building Manager: “Wait… Get out! Get Out! It’s coming from inside the house!

    Ok, getting real… suggest tenants promote available EAP services to staff, saying this person can seek confidential counseling to address their behavioral sanitation problem in the restrooms, find a more appropriate outlet on their time away from the workplace, or if it continues and the person is identified they risk termination.

  105. Paper Towels*

    In response to question 1: A former office building I worked in had a problem with a serial defecator. I cannot say I think they handled the situation correctly but here’s what happened.

    The defecator did his/her business in one bathroom on a floor where our organization was the only tenant. The second time poop was found around, not in, a toilet, the building management told our office manager removing feces from places it should not be on a regular basis was not something they would ask the cleaning crew to do. They chalked it up to an issue within our office/organization and held firm on not requiring their crew to clean up the poop.

    I have a lot of respect for looking out for their employees. On the other hand, my employer – who had a terrible culture – talked an associate-level person who had risen through the ranks to move the poop into the toilet. After about 8 weeks, the issue stopped.

    Not that you asked, but the second I am a manager I would hire the woman who cleaned the poop from the floor in a second. Even if it is anonymously on the internet, people should know what a damn hero she is.

  106. Shawn*

    I’d find out who it is through the music and call both he and his manager into the office. I’d let him know that you know what he is doing and how there have been complaints (with his manager sitting right there). I’d let him know that each time it happens requires a special, costly cleaning and from that moment forward, he will be responsible for paying for these cleanings. I bet they stop pretty quickly after that!