While I was in my early 20’s, I worked at a fast food restaurant. There was obviously nothing spectacular about this particular job other than the fact that it was located in an upscale part of town and the starting pay was an unusually substantial amount for this particular fast food joint.
I got along well with the other employees and even became really good friends with one of the older managers.
The only problem I had at this job was with the General Manager.
He was this huge guy who flirted with me, a lot.
I did not like it but pretended as if it did not bother me. I continuously ignored his flirting and advances. I tried to avoid him as much as possible. But I never gave any indication that I was uncomfortable with what he was doing except for the time he actually touched my backside and I removed his hand.
My older self looks back at things like this and wonder, why?
Why in the world would I choose to ignore this situation and act as if everything was normal?
The younger me sheepishly responds with:
- I didn’t want to cause problems at work.
- I didn’t want to get fired.
- I didn’t want to have to find another job making less money.
- I knew he had a family and didn’t want to cause hardships for them.
- Even if I said something to someone, it would end up being his word against mine.
- I hoped he would just get the picture and stop on his own.
That didn’t happen. Eventually, I moved across state lines and got a job working in a hospital.
Looking back on this, there are a few things that I should have handled differently. The mature me has some advice for the young grasshopper:
- Get evidence.
A video or voice recording of what’s happening so that if you do get fired for speaking up, you will be able to use the evidence in court for being sexually harassed and wrongfully terminated.
2. Speak up.
Tell him/her that you’re not comfortable with their sexual advances and there’s a good chance that they may stop.
3. Report it.
Go to their boss or someone in HR to report the incident if the harassment continues.
- It’s OK to feel uncomfortable.
Don’t give mixed singles. If you’re uncomfortable then the person making the advances need to know that. It’s OK to frown, to shift your body or completely walk away.
- Know your company’s sexual harassment policies.
It’s usually printed in an employee handbook, posted in the break room or in the union contract.
6. Stay employed.
Don’t quit your job before reporting the situation. If you do, you are possibly forfeiting the chance to file harassment claims.
…I completely regret not following the necessary steps to improve my work environment. I also realize that since he was not held accountable for his actions that he more than likely has done this to someone else since then.
Have you had any experience with this? What would you do in this situation?