update: coworker sent me his photography page — and it’s mostly racy portraits of women

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

Remember the letter-writer whose coworker sent her his photography page — and it was mostly racy portraits of women? Here’s the update.

After I submitted the letter, I spoke to my boss about it (she was very supportive) and I spoke to HR, but I did not respond to the initial messages this guy sent to me. The HR process started out promising but ended up being a bit demoralizing — I initially spoke to them the week that I received the messages, documented and submitted an official report, and felt really supported and good about the process! But then didn’t hear anything back from them in terms of action on their end. Due to the holidays, a heavy workload, and some larger shake-ups across the company, I didn’t follow up with them that month, but was planning to check back in in January.

Before I followed up with them, though, I got another set of messages from this guy, asking if he would see me at an upcoming in-person event in Vegas (gross!). To clarify, we have no business reason to interact at this event and the two other people on my team (both men) did not receive messages from this guy asking if they’d be there. Just me. I reported this message to HR as well and discovered that they had not spoken to him or his boss about the incident since I had made the initial report over a month before! After two meetings where I reiterated that I considered this sexual harassment, they did take action and gave my harasser a warning. He has not communicated with me since and I have not attended any in-person events he was at.

While my company’s reaction could have been worse, it was very frustrating and demoralizing that they didn’t take action on my initial report (maybe I would not have been harassed again if they had!). There were some terrible suggestions made about how to handle in-person events. (Assigning a coworker to be my permanent chaperone was floated, as if it would be completely unremarkable for my coworker to follow me everywhere in Vegas without explanation and would have no effect on my experience of the event. Wild. I made it clear that was unacceptable.) I also had to deal with some pressure to confront my harasser myself. Maybe some people would find it “empowering” to do that, as our HR team suggested — personally, I found it more empowering to be allowed to do my job without having to spend time and emotional energy crafting and sending the perfect professional yet firm Slack message to someone harassing me.

Overall I enjoy this job and like my company, coworkers, and boss, but it’s been depressing realizing how such a small action on someone else’s part has had lasting impacts on some aspects of work. It definitely took me longer than I thought it would to not have a negative association with new Slack messages coming in and I actively avoid looking at this guy’s photo or video during group Zoom meetings. Because we are planning an in-person event in February, I will have to re-raise this issue with my boss. What fun!

I regret mentioning the cultural difference element in my email. I wrote it basically the same day I was harassed and I definitely was still grasping at straws to somehow explain why this was happening to me. I was lucky to have a strong support network, including a very supportive partner, and a job that eventually did respond to the complaint, but it still really sucked. Thank you to everyone who expressed sympathy and solidarity in the comments, especially people who weighed in on the cultural issue (and apologies again for casting aspersions on Northern Europeans).

{ 96 comments… read them below }

  1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Ugh. This right here:

    “personally, I found it more empowering to be allowed to do my job without having to spend time and emotional energy crafting and sending the perfect professional yet firm Slack message to someone harassing me.”

    Somehow its expected that OF COURSE you would do all the work to make this right. This is literally HRs job. It is also all on him to put in the work to not harass people. Which is really not much effort. its more of a don’t expend effort kind of thing.

    As for a chaperone, or any other suggestion, again, you should have your activities curtailed, have to put in extra effort rather than the man. Big vibes of the playground — oh just stay away from the bully. Instead of, you know, imposing consequences on the bully.

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      Yeah, it’s the same bad advice I got in grade school all over again. Just ignore the bully. Try to make friends with the bully. Well, you must be doing something to antagonize them. WTF??

      How about you, the responsible adult, take care of this problem I brought to you instead of blaming the victim?

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        AGREED. I have been heartened that these days a lot of schools are making an effort to deal with bullies in a way they didn’t when I was a kid, but we still have a long way to go with that and also with bullies and harassers in the workplace.

        1. No Longer Looking*

          I mean – we were, yes, but that being true doesn’t somehow magically make it acceptable in the slightest to not do their jobs and correct the boys. Otherwise how will they learn?

          1. Airy*

            And it’s not just “Stop that! It’s bad!” – it’s spending time talking to the kid and explaining what he *should* do when he likes someone. The earlier you get in with that the more hassle you can save everyone.

        2. Juicebox Hero*

          Or one old second-grade teacher on the playground, when I complained to her about a boy who was making my life miserable, “Boys only pick on girls because they LIKE them!”

          I mean, when you’re 7, boys are icky gross aliens and the very notion of Liking One In That Way is repulsive.

          So I said I didn’t care why he did it, I wanted her to make him stop picking on me.

          She read me the riot act, and after recess so did my classroom teacher, who made me apologize to the other teacher in front of her whole class, and then at home I caught 947 kinds of hell from my mother for mouthing off to a teacher.

          Nostalgia for the innocent carefree days of childhood? Fuck that noise.

          1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

            Also, in retrospect, I’m pretty sure he didn’t LIKE me, he ENVIED me. I had the relationship with my dad that he wanted with his.

            Understanding that might have made his torment slightly more tolerable, but I still think an adult should have stepped in.

            1. Vio*

              There’s always an explanation for bullying, but never an excuse for it. It’s a shame teachers didn’t understand that when I was a child but from what I hear from people who are parents and/or work in schools it has improved drastically since then.

    2. Giant Space Pickle*

      Throwing this out there again – HR is not your friend. They exist to protect the company. Most of the time they’ll only take action if there is a serious risk of a lawsuit, and sometimes not even then, especially if it’s an old boys club.

      1. Garblesnark*

        ok, but they exist to protect the company from employees suing the company. handing the employee a case to sue the company on a silver platter is not doing that.

      2. Autumn leaves*

        Some HR yes but some are there to help employees and the company. I have experienced an HR employee who actively tried to help a friend of hers date me (unwanted on my part and my boss went above hers and things were fine) and I have experienced HR employees who have actively stopped any form of unwanted attention. It depends on the HR department and company.

      3. Observer*

        Most of the time they’ll only take action if there is a serious risk of a lawsuit, and sometimes not even then, especially if it’s an old boys club.

        Not if they are any good. For one thing, behavior like this *does* constitute a significant liability. For another, HR doesn’t need to be anyone’s “friend” (nor should they be) in order to protect staff from outrageous behavior.

        It’s a myth that the only time HR can or should intervene is if there is a legal issue. That’s not true and it’s a toxic idea.

      4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        then this HR is failing miserably at that. ignoring a complain about sexual harassment by not even talking to the alleged harasser to hear his side leave the company wide open to liability.

      5. Snow Globe*

        A competent HR department knows that there is a risk of a lawsuit in any such complaint and will therefore OF COURSE protect the company by responding appropriately to all complaints.

    3. Maleficent*

      That was very infuriating. Why is it up to the young women to tell creepsters to stop being creepy? Why is that Step 1? If someone punches a coworker, nobody says “well, did you tell Mike Tyson to stop punching you?” NO, of course not. It should NOT be on the harassed person to notify the weirdo that they’re being a weirdo. It should be up to the weirdo’s management to handle this cleanly and make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else again. Creepsters deserve immediate consequences, not a firm and polite rebuttal from the person they’re creeping on. Why is this so common. Absolutely infuriating.

      1. Random Dice*

        That’s actually a really good point.

        I was thinking that telling someone once to knock it off was required to do a sexual harassment claim… but… that’s not actually true for sexually explicit materials sent to a coworker. That’s super cut and dried.

        Being punched is an excellent analogy. One doesn’t have to first say to stop punching one… it’s a one-and-done offense. Just like sending a coworker sexual content should be.

    4. Artemesia*

      That first paragraph should be framed and hang in HR offices. To expect the person being harassed to do the heavy lifting is demoralizing.

    5. Team Rita*

      The harasser is the one who should be assigned a chaperone. As in, someone from HR, or their boss, in an “I’m watching you!” sort of way.

  2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    “empowering” to confront a harasser?!
    Total bollocks from HR. They seem lazy, ignorant and uninformed about how they should protect employees from sexual harassment.
    As if they cba to do this part of their job.

    1. Nobby Nobbs*

      I might find confronting a harasser empowering if I were allowed to hit people. Alas, that is not the world we live and are employed in.

    2. SopranoH*

      I know from my decades of yearly sexual harassment videos/quizzes that letting the harasser know that their behavior is unwelcome is the recommended first step in “mild” cases. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but there it is.

      That being said, sending someone nude pictures is so far into WTF territory that HR should be the ones remediating this.

  3. Juicebox Hero*

    I’m still boggling at the idea of an HR department thinking that paying a coworker to follow you around Vegas like Mary’s little lamb made sense, yet *talking to the guy who was causing the problem in the first place* didn’t.

    I’m sure the tagalong coworker would have been just as thrilled to have to follow you around as you’d have been to have them following you ;)

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Not the first time humans have employed “Maybe a meteor strike will remove this problem and I won’t have to experience the awkwardness of addressing it: how can I stall until that happens?”

    2. Max*

      I’ve heard of cases of known harassers/missing stairs being assigned somebody to follow them around as a sort of handler to prevent further bad behavior. The idea of reversing that and having what’s effectively a minder for the person being harassed is bonkers.

      1. Observer*

        It’s SO bonkers that I wonder if it was intended to actually protect the OP, or rather a kind of punitive action that (they think) gives the plausible deniability.

        1. Was the Grink There*

          Yeah, it definitely isn’t a suggestion that gives any consideration to OP’s professionalism and autonomy. It almost seems sarcastic, like, “if you get upset at gross messages from coworkers we can find you a babysitter”.

        2. Juicebox Hero*

          Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if someone in HR thought SHE’D done something to lead the guy on, and assigned a minder to keep her from bothering him.

          It would depress me but it wouldn’t surprise me.

      2. Cute As Cymraeg*

        Yeah, we had a known harasser in my uni society and because we couldn’t expel him from official socials (he was a member, had paid his dues, and we were told we couldn’t expel him without someone willing to make an official complaint…) it was universally understood that a couple of us would be watching/chaperoning him at all times and others would step in as needed.

        Yeah, it was f*cked up. Fifteen years on, I’d certainly handle it VERY differently. But we did our best at the time.

    3. Maggie*

      this idea reminds me of an episode of Better Off Ted. If you have to hire a person to chaperone EVERY woman in the company, how do you ensure that both the chaperone and the chaperon-ee don’t harass anyone? Hire a chaperone for the chaperone. Before you know it you’re employing everyone on earth, and the logistics of that are *mind blown*

  4. Lurker*

    I’m sorry HR took so long to deal with him, and I sincerely hope you don’t get any more creepy messages from him. Good luck OP!

  5. Slowslowslow*

    Just want to comment here – in the last month, the ads on this site have started to absolutely demolish my computers memory (using Microsoft Edge) – is anyone else experiencing this? Opening a discussion in a new tab can take 5+ minutes without adblock, or about 1 second with it.

    1. new old friend*

      I have the same problem in Chrome (and I believe both Chrome and Edge are Chromium based). I would really like to support the site with ad views but it’s completely unusable.

      1. RaginMiner*

        I also had to turn on adblock. The content of some of the ads was unsavory for work and it would take AGES to load anything on the site

    2. Michelle*

      Not just you. When I use Chrome on my nicely equipped MacBook, this one site, very specifically, makes its fan start screaming like it’s ready for takeoff. It’s been much longer than a month.

    3. The Very Jewy Sparrow*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one having this problem. When I read this site for too long, it eventually makes my browser crash because it’s run out of memory. I’m using Safari on a Mac.

  6. Lainey L. L-C*

    How hard is it for HR to say, “sending ANYONE at work a link to your Instagram page that is filled with naked photos is bad, and sending it to a woman is even worse, don’t do it again, and don’t contact OP on Slack anymore?”

    1. Observer*

      but! But, but!

      Don’t you know that that might hurt his feelings?!? And that’s not nice! And it’s HR’s job to be nice – at least to guys!?

      Apparently they find it hard. Which is why they tried to make the OP do the “dirty work”.

      1. Ink*

        He could be an ARTIST! Those nudes are his ART, how dare you suggest we squash his creative spirit! That’s not what HR is for! *eyes roll right out of my skull and down the street*

    2. Anon4This*

      It’s really not at all. I had a long-time, zero workplace incidents member of one of my teams accidentally sent a shirtless selfie to another employee whom they’d never met/worked with. It was a honest yet incredibly stupid and careless mistake – they had multiple email accounts on the phone, were trying to send from a personal email account to their new significant other (who had a very similar name) in their own contacts, got in a rush and missed that it was the work account and pulled from the work global address list instead of personal contacts. (Our old mobile device management software was awful about resetting your default email account – I also accidentally sent emails off my personal account if I didn’t notice that it’d reverted to that from my work account until the responses started coming into my gmail.)

      The recipient of the photo was understandably upset about it and reported to HR. My team member was given a written warning and a very short leash. HR was crystal clear that this was completely unacceptable and violated both our workplace conduct standards and our acceptable use of technology policy and that they were not to contact the other employee for any reason at all, even to apologize, or they’d immediately be fired. HR did not care that it was not intentional or that the sender was mortified and deeply apologetic, only that they understood how unacceptable the email was and that nothing like it could never, every happen again.

  7. Mmsob*

    Let’s stop making it necessary to find a reason for why it happens to us. Harassment is almost never about anything we needed to change, it’s almost always about the harassar being awful. Let’s stop taking on the mental and emotional work to explain their bad.

    1. Ginger Dynamo*

      Let’s also respect that, when someone has been so bafflingly and blatantly disrespected, they’re allowed to feel baffled and confused. They’re allowed to respond with human emotions. They shouldn’t be expected by anyone else to find a personal justification for how they somehow deserve having been harassed or a humanizing reason why their harasser would have perpetrated this disrespect and harm, but they equally shouldn’t need to berate themselves for having imperfect, very human doubts creep in at the edges, because that’s what harassment is often designed to do—harassment throws you off your game enough to try and convince you that unacceptable behavior is somehow okay and acceptable under the circumstances. Responding to harassment with self-doubt is human, and I think voicing compassion for the reasoning underlying the doubt without perpetuating an expectation for folks to doubt themselves is an important line to walk.

  8. Elizabeth West*

    Ugh. Hope he steps on a LEGO in bare feet, at midnight.

    Interesting how HR did nothing until the OP used the words “sexual harassment.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t an HR person be able to recognize that as such? (I’m being ironic, since I know how many companies have shitty and even untrained HR.)

    1. Ms. Murchison*

      Same thing jumped out at me. We have to know the magic words to invoke the protection spell. Thank goodness AAM often helps LW with the right words to use to trigger action.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        That leaped out at me, too. My immediate thought was, “Ha! It sounds like LW said the magic words!”

        HR shouldn’t have had to hear those words to be goaded into taking action, but naming that guy’s misbehavior for exactly what it was seems to have shocked them out of the denial they were using to avoid doing their job.

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      And I hope everyone from HR picks the restroom stall with no paper left. Or even better, that last torn-up square that isn’t good for anything.

  9. Observer*

    OP, I am so sorry that your HR stinks to high heavens.

    But thank you for reporting it! Because having HR talk to him *might* stop him. But even if it doesn’t – and it’s quite possible that it won’t – it means that HR is going to have to take it seriously if someone else complains. Because you put it in the record.

    And if they still don’t take it seriously, then someone may very well nail them, because once the company is put on notice, they have a higher lever of responsibility. But still, I’m sorry this happened.

    And, yes, I totally get why you did not want to confront your harasser. It’s disgusting that they put that kind of pressure on you.

    I hope you put that suggestion and your refusal into email. If not, please make log with all of this information – who said what, and when, so that you have that information if it ever comes in handy (like if the EEOC comes knocking).

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I hope so, but the chances that HR has already received complaints about this guy and done as little as possible…are not zero.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Agreed. They only acted when OP went back to them AGAIN. How many other women didn’t bother a second time after no action the first time?

        There’s gonna be a lawsuit regarding this guy and its all going to come out. Because sending links to his etchings — I mean photographs — is not a first safe step to test the waters. He’s done less before and got away with it.

        1. Artemesia*

          If they had acted the first time as they should, they might be in a position to fire him with the second contact. Kudos to the OP for sticking with it.

      2. RVA Cat*

        He is 100% a missing stair and they are enabling him. Sounds like a reason for the OP to move on, unfortunately.

  10. Was the Grink There*

    Love how HR imagines it’s empowering to have OP do THEIR job! Hey, if it’s so empowering, HR, why don’t you go ahead and do it; what else are you getting paid for??

    Great job standing up to them and sorry you had to deal with a creep!

  11. Web of Pies*

    You are not alone!!! We have someone actively harassing multiple women, to the point of bragging that he’d almost pushed one to the point of quitting, and not only is he still employed, it’s the same as you, ‘this is an interpersonal problem’. No, it’s a management problem. I’m sorry this happened for you the way it did.

  12. Slow Gin Lizz*

    Ugh, LW, that really stinks. You didn’t say in your original letter how old this guy is. Not that it makes a difference in the fact that he is *extremely* creepy but I am intensely curious about it. I also wonder how many other young women at your company he’s sent his photos to. (Shudder.) Not that that should change how the company deals with him and how he’s treating you, because they should tell him to knock it off and leave you alone, but I can’t believe you’re the only person he’s been sending photos to. How icky. I hope your company steps up and does the right thing, and preferably before anything else happens.

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      Yeah he seemed to drop the link to his Insta like two slack messages in. It seems like he had that terrible plan ready to go.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Oh this stuff knows no age. It’s its own creepster culture; there are guys out there who teach this to other guys, no age limits on attending this kind of school. Interestingly, there’s some explicit creepster advice out there for guys to take advantage of when they’re slightly outside their culture (so European in America, or Westerner in Japan level of difference) and to push the lines a bit more in those sorts of situations. These “dating coaches” actively encourage getting more hands on, or more explicit just because of the fact that most people are a little more polite or understanding when people are away from home. This guy is gross, aware, deliberate and completely unrepentant. Shame on him, and on OP’s HR department.

  13. Pizza Rat*

    and this is why so many people are leery of going to HR.

    The encounter with them reminded me of when I would go to adults about being bullied and got told BS things like, “just ignore them.”

  14. Seashell*

    I don’t think the HR handled this well, but I can’t imagine not responding to him with something like, “this is not appropriate for the workplace, and I am not interested in seeing things like that” in the first place. If the photography buff had any interest in covering his own rear end, that might be the end of it. In his creepy mind, he probably thought the lack of response meant LW was fine with those pictures.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Good for you, I guess? OP said she didn’t feel comfortable responding that way, nor should she be expected to do so in lieu of HR *doing their jobs.*

    2. Observer*

      Can we not put pressure on victims and making excuses for harassers?

      Firstly, I don’t know if her is a photography buff, but that’s not what this was about. At all. Any plausible deniability went out the window when he followed up with an invitation to meet – ONLY to her.

      Secondly, anyone who could think that sending that link was ok could just as easily find a reason for it being ok to try to get her to join him in Vegas no matter WHAT she responded. Blaming the victim for the fact that her eraser thought it was OK to keep on harassing her, and for the fact that HR did not do its job is pretty out of line

      but I can’t imagine not responding to him with something like,

      That’s all good and fine. If you have never been harassed, you really need to sit down and be quiet because you don’t seem to have any idea of what it’s like. But even if you have been harassed and you actually were able to respond this way, making that a “requirement” – to the point that you’re essentially excusing the continuation of harassment! is just ridiculous.

      And yes, I know that you are going to say that you were not excusing him. But the thing is that you *are*. You are saying that it’s the *victim’s* behavior that gave him an excuse, not the fact that he’s thorough jerk.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        ” ‘but I can’t imagine not responding to him with something like…’

        That’s all good and fine. If you have never been harassed, you really need to sit down and be quiet because you don’t seem to have any idea of what it’s like.”

        Yeah, dealing with someone like OP’s icky co-worker is like trying to get tinsel that’s got some static electricity going on off your hands. Or a more stinky option, like someone else’s dog’s poo. You use one hand to pull it off the other hand, and all that happens is you get it on both of your hands and can’t put it down off either, and then can’t clean either of your hands without getting something else dirty. Anytime you try to engage, even to create distance or try to make clear you want NONE of what they are lobbing at you, you wind up with more of the ick on you, and conveniently for the creep, if someone happens to observe any of this, all they will see is YOU, COVERED IN TINSEL (or poo) and will think it’s a YOU problem.

        No, OP is correct. They reported the creepy co-worker’s action to management and HR. It is on management and HR to address it with the creepy co-worker.

        Because it is not an ‘interpersonal issue’ or a ‘personality conflict’ or a ‘oh, you know it’s just how guys are’ or ‘you just have to let him know you don’t want, what was it again? oh that’s right, links to pornographic images sent to you by co-workers” situation. It is one employee definitely being a creep/unprofessional and likely breaking the law harassing another employee, and it’s up to the EMPLOYER (and their official representatives) to make that stop.

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      yeah no response was the best response here. This is not a hey let’s talk about this so you can do better in the future thing — this is a go right to HR do not pass go thing. If he thought no response meant it was acceptable, that is on him. OP gets to decide how much energy she wants to spend setting the guy straight that nude pictures are not acceptable at work.

    4. Not a photography fan (LW)*

      Honestly, before it happened to me, I would have thought the same thing. In the moment, though, I was just filled with shock, disbelief, and a fair amount of shame that this was happening to me. I talked to my partner about it and couldn’t think of anything to say that didn’t feel wildly uncomfortable. I had a hard time opening slack for a few days after it happened and another reason I wanted to avoid writing back was because I didn’t want to see another message from him replying to my reply.

      While I understand that sending that kind of reply seems obvious and easy, in the moment it felt very different.

      1. Observer*

        Thanks for chiming it. I imagine it must be rough to read something like this.

        It’s true that this stuff can seem so easy from the outside, but very very different when it actually happens. So if affirmation from an internet stranger helps any, please know that many of us get it. We get that you were put in an untenable situation, and it was not on you to find the “correct” magical response to stop a jerk from continuing his jerkitude.

      2. Youth Librarian*

        It is NEVER on you to deal with this kind of crap. I manage/mentor a lot of teen girls and young women and, in a public-facing job we deal with a lot of creeps. I’ve worked with them to make responses they’re comfortable with, helped them with resources etc. but the first and ALWAYS acceptable resource is “tell me and I will deal with it.” When I was harassed by a coworker years ago, my then-boss wrote it off and my colleague (who is now my boss YAY) dealt with it, made sure they got written up, asked me what I wanted to happen, etc. It’s your manager and/or HR’s JOB to deal with this. You should have been able to send them a “this creepy thing happened” and never think about it again.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      Kindly, he didn’t really care about her response or what she thought of what he was doing. He just wanted her to see it, whatever her reaction was. You’re using the rules which apply to reasonable people; when someone cares about the response of others, or about getting a positive response they get explicit consent before dropping them into the midst of sexual exposure. Also, if the right response is prohibitive, it’s still too late to change what’s happened! The response to close the stable door still comes after the horse has bolted…and he’s still the one in charge of closing the door that never should have been opened. Was he counting on this kind of (pretty obvious) response too? Yeah, probably. His internal response (which frankly is no one’s business to try affect) will still be some variation of “well, she definitely saw it” and “I don’t seem to be in trouble here for trying something, which is fairly predictable for guys like me; better luck next time”. Responding through her company had a lot more power even though it still isn’t good enough.

  15. DramaQ*

    It’s EMPOWERING to confront your sexual harasser?! Because untold numbers of women haven’t been hurt or worse doing that? Talk about blaming the victim. They want me to empower myself I would have been raising hell all the way to the top of the chain about the idiot HR person who thinks a dramatic Lifetime movie confrontation is how to handle sexual harassment claims.


    OP honestly if I were you I would start looking for another job. He’s quiet now but all he got was a slap on the wrist if barely that. It’s only a matter of time before he starts again. Not only that but your company has shown their true colors. They have no regard for you as an woman or an employee. They are a “boys will be boys” type company. You don’t deserve that. Your safety and dignity are basic rights that HR should be enforcing.

    I get that you may not be able to quit outright and there may be reasons this job currently works for you, it’s never a simple decision. But I hope you at least consider it.

  16. BellyButton*

    Two big things:
    1. Can we stop putting people in HR who do not know how to be HR??? Being “good with people” does not qualify someone to be in HR. If you are in HR and not properly educated (not trained- but knowledgeable) then you have a responsibility to get educated in the laws and best practices.

    2. Stop putting the person who is being harassed into the position of managing the harasser. It is unacceptable and possibly dangerous. The response of having a chaperone is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard.

  17. Ms. Murchison*

    It’s disheartening that in a year starting with a 2, HR departments are still handing out such glaringly foolish advice.

  18. Blarg*

    Just want to commiserate on the impact harassment has on work. “Even when” it is “mild” or only happened a couple times or isn’t by someone you see in-person or or or.

    It just sucks. And I had good HR response. I only felt better when he moved to a different state and I changed my cell phone number.

  19. irianamistifi*

    HR’s suggestion that you just be followed around by someone else rather than fixing the root cause is so crazy that it was actually the plot point in an episode of a comedic tv show called “Better Off Ted”.

    The company installed new sensors in the building that didn’t activate for their black employees. Rather than fix the problem, they hired minimum wage white people to follow their black employees around! They only came around on the issue when someone pointed out that because of diversity hiring laws, they would need to hire more black people (because you can’t just hire white people!) and then they’d need to hire more white people to follow them around and so on, and eventually they’d hire entire population of Earth… and they don’t have the parking for that. The episode is called “Racial Sensitivity” and you can see clips from it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyXNmiTIupg

    I can’t believe an HR dept actually thought this would be a good idea. The company in the show is EVIL, so OP, maybe this is a sign?

    1. Random Dice*

      That’s hilariously effed… until you realize that it’s totally how too many folks actually think, and then it’s not funny at all.

  20. TG*

    Sadly I’m not surprised HR did nothing until you brought it up again / I haven’t worked at many organizations where HR was responsive or cared other than to protect the company.

    1. misspiggy*

      That lack of company interest may be the problem. I worked somewhere where HR was not only on the ball, but they were among the people being harassed. They were blocked from taking action by their leadership. In the end someone blew the whistle and there was a big scandal, but only after the dude left. This in a progressive and public facing field.

      I can imagine a lot of HR departments know or assume they won’t get leadership support for tackling sexual harassment.

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