My co-worker, a peer has accused me of not doing my job, leaving early and skipping assignments. (NOT TRUE) He pulled me aside at work to accuse me of these things and did not tell management. He did say all of my other co-workers agreed with him that I was not “pulling my weight”. Is this a form of harassment?
He did not threaten to tell management, was just letting me know…. but I feel like this is a scare tactic to get me to quit, or some sort of other targeting ploy to harass me.
I tried to ignore it…. but yesterday I found out (through a meeting with him and my manager) that two months ago he contacted my manager to tell her that I do not shave under my arms, and that it is offending customers. (no one SAID this, he could just tell) He did not feel comfortable approaching me about it at the time because the last time he approached me it “Backfired” on him.
Do I have grounds to go to HR about this? Do my peers have the right to discuss my shaving habits? That is not his business. Are my job activities even any of his business if they do not directly affect him??
“Rights” is a word that gets thrown around without anyone really thinking about what it really means. Of course, your co-workers have the “right” to discuss your shaving habits. Free speech baby. Now, does your company have to allow that? No. Do you have to remain silent about it? No.
Now truth be told, unless you are a life guard, I think you shouldn’t be wearing anything that reveals the status of your armpits. Sleeveless is just not professional. (I know many people disagree with me. Get your own blog. How about Ilovearmpits.blogspot.com? I think it’s available.)
If you are asking if his behavior is illegal, that’s a different question. Perhaps. I would need to know more about him and you and what really happened. He sounds, basically, like a big jerk. So, let’s handle him. We’ll call him Steve.
Jerk: You aren’t pulling your own weight. Everyone agrees with me.
You: Steve, that’s just not true. You know it’s not true. Furthermore, our boss knows it’s not true.
And then you walk off.
Jerk: Your armpits are unprofessional and gross.
You: Your comments are inappropriate and border on sexual harassment. I’m going to report this comment to Human Resources/manager.
And then you walk off.
Jerk: You clocked in 3 minutes late today.
You just walk off.
You to your manager: Steve keeps questioning my performance and dress. Do you have concerns about either of these things? I’m happy to make changes in how I work, if what I’m doing is less effective.
Your manager may respond that you aren’t pulling your weight and your armpits are gross. (They are–hair or not. Put some sleeves on.) Fine. Make those changes. If your manager is extremely wimpy, he may be relying on Steve to convey messages to the other employees. Why on earth is Steve in a meeting with you and your manager? It sounds like he does have some supervisory authority over you. In that case, you need to make sure you remain professional with him. He may have authority to talk to you about your late arrival, dress, or work habits.
If this is the case, you need to get that clarified with your manager. If it is not the case, the main thing is that you don’t engage Steve and you do your best to ignore him. Do talk with your manager to make sure that you are performing up to expectations. Do report his behavior to your manager and/or Human Resources. Do this in a matter-of-fact way and not in a weepy “I’m picked on” way. Steve may not be sexually harassing you now, but he certainly seems capable of it. The company can’t do anything about it if they don’t know about it.
Steve enjoys yanking your chain. Don’t let him yank it any more. He’s stuck in 7th grade. You move on.