Breaking free from harassment
Hi Jill. I had a coffee with a colleague of mine about a month ago during work hours. He’s more of a supervisor, but even though he is not my direct one I have certainly reported to him every now and then.
Q: Q Hi Jill. I had a coffee with a colleague of mine about a month ago during work hours. He’s more of a supervisor, but even though he is not my direct one I have certainly reported to him every now and then. The coffee turned out to be more like him wanting to ask me out. As a person he’s great, but frankly I wasn’t trying to have a relationship with him. Since our coffee he has asked me out a few times. Each time I tell him I don’t think it’s a good idea. While I’m sure it’s nothing, I am starting to feel uncomfortable with all the unwanted attention. I’m wondering if I should say something to my manager or not.
A: Matthew, first of all remember that you did nothing wrong. Accepting an offer for a coffee break from a colleague is a normal way of making connections with colleagues. In your case, though, you realized early on that this person wanted more than a work acquaintance. Regardless of how great of a person you think he might be, he’s not respecting your work space and is creating an uncomfortable climate for you to work in. It sounds like you’ve told him repeatedly that you’re not interested, but he sees your refusals as motivation to try harder. This is a case of sexual harassment in the workplace, Matthew.
Since there seems to be no end in sight, you need to tell him one last time you do not appreciate his advances and should they not stop you are going to talk to your supervisor. The problem with these situations is that at first it might seem like he’s just trying to impress you, but it can quickly become troublesome as the person with the crush may decide to use his managerial position to convince you into accepting his advances. All of a sudden you find your personal space is being invaded and your quality of work is being questioned. You don’t need that. You’ve got to make a firm stand now while the environment is still manageable. Don’t wait for it to become his word against yours. Document the incidents, and maybe even tell a fellow colleague whom you trust. Continue to produce stellar work — that’s your best offence!
Do follow up on this Matthew and tell me how it goes.
Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.
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