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Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:33 pm
by BogleMelon
I hope I am not violating group rules by posting this, but we really need some help here.

My wife is working in the state. Someone today touched her inappropriately (her stomach sides...). She instantly, loudly and firmly asked him to never do that again, went to her supervisor (who were supportive) and filed a claim. While she was there, the abuser entered the office and tried to apologize and claimed he "didn't mean anything bad"!. But the supervisor kicked him out. The supervisor also mentioned that this is not the first complaint from this guy, but my wife thinks it may be the first official written complaint.

Tomorrow my wife is heading to the headquarter to meet with someone from the state department for an interview regarding the incident. And so far everyone sounds very supportive.
I am feeling boiling, trying to act in a civil matter and stay away from her workplace, but also trying to convince her to go to the police and let them know.
Questions:
- Is the police a good idea at this phase?
- Should she contact a lawyer instead?
- What she should be asking for/expecting during the interview with the state employee, so she doesn't lose her rights and in the same time to make sure that this will never happen again in the future?

Thanks for any tip.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:40 pm
by runner3081
Before police and lawyer, why not give the HR department a chance to figure it out? Granted many HR departments are worthless, I am not sure that those escalations are warranted at the moment.

To confirm, this is the only time it has happened to her? Though, there sounds like allegations of others.

Have you asked her how she wants to handle it? Your anger may not allow for rational thoughts. After all, it is her job and her - not you (directly) will need to deal with this long-term, depending on how it plays out.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:43 pm
by wstrdg
She should document everything that happens concurrently: the episode, the reporting, the follow-up, etc. Include names, places, dates and time of day. All the details.

Best of luck to you both, she's courageous.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:44 pm
by mrc
Please remember, HR is there for the company/organization. Not your wife.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:50 pm
by barnaclebob
I doubt what the person did is a crime based on your description. Look up the requirements for sexual battery which touching the sides of the stomach likely does not meet.

The guy sounds like a creeper and if what you say is true then he should be fired.

I would hold off on anything else and see if HR does the right thing. She should try to communicate in writing whenever possible and take copious notes on anything verbal.

The interview will probably focus at least somewhat on how she felt (threatened, unsafe, awkward etc) about the incident and a bunch of other subjective things. My wife reported an incident where someone accidentally shared their screen during a meeting (with a customer no less) that had some soft core pictures displayed. In addition to the factual details HR was interested in how it made my wife felt. Luckily for the guy she isnt easily offended and was mostly just embarrassed for the company.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:53 pm
by BogleMelon
runner3081 wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:40 pm

Have you asked her how she wants to handle it? Your anger may not allow for rational thoughts. After all, it is her job and her - not you (directly) will need to deal with this long-term, depending on how it plays out.
She is still confused about what is the best course as well. She agreed that I post here though, so she is probably following the responses by now.

I know that anger leads to stupid behavior that is regretful usually, and that is why I am seeking advice instead of acting in a stupid way and regret it later.

Thank you

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:57 pm
by Brianmcg321
She should notify her supervisor and HR and file a complaint.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:58 pm
by MotoTrojan
I doubt you have any legal recourse at all civil or criminal and would not waste time outside of working with the employer.

Having documentation is great. The most important thing is that she is comfortable so there should be no situation where this person is working with her directly, alone or otherwise. Beyond that the only "right" she has I would think is to quit if she isn't satisfied with their response.

If this is the 1st formal warning/consequence against the employee, it isn't a surefire thing that he is fired, so be prepared for that outcome.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:59 pm
by BogleMelon
barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:50 pm
Look up the requirements for sexual battery which touching the sides of the stomach likely does not meet.
I did. And based on some lawyers websites, touching any part of the body except hands (shaking, high five..etc) or a light bat on the shoulder, IS CONSIDERED sexual harassment

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:01 pm
by Utahdogowner
wstrdg wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:43 pm
She should document everything that happens concurrently: the episode, the reporting, the follow-up, etc. Include names, places, dates and time of day. All the details.

Best of luck to you both, she's courageous.
Some patients come and want that documented in a medical record just as one more place it's documented. Not sure it's helpful, but I've documented those at visits before for patients in similar situations.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:02 pm
by barnaclebob
BogleMelon wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:59 pm
barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:50 pm
Look up the requirements for sexual battery which touching the sides of the stomach likely does not meet.
I did. And based on some lawyers websites, touching any part of the body except hands (shaking, high five..etc) or a light bat on the shoulder, IS CONSIDERED sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is likely not a crime by itself in most cases. Youd have to research if she has a legitimate civil complaint but I would guess she doesnt at this point.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:04 pm
by HomeStretch
Give HR and her supervisor a chance first. It’s encouraging that they jumped right on this. It’s also good that the office lecher admitted to this (despite trying to put a “I didn’t mean it” spin on it. Because he did).

Kudos to your wife for handling this promptly and effectively. Agree she needs to start a log documenting everything. Be vigilant that the lecher doesn’t try to approach her privately. People can behave unpredictably when their employment is at risk.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:07 pm
by wilked
No to a lawyer

No to police

Yes to documenting everything

There are policies to follow on this, let things proceed per policy.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:10 pm
by batpot
Document everything. Especially the exact conversation in the supervisor's office.
Then hold onto that while HR does their job.

If it's state dept, there is likely a union, and therefore union rules regarding violations, repeat offenders, and "aggravating factors". Time off work might be all he gets, since this was pretty far from a criminal act.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm
by barnaclebob
Ill add that she should report any rumors she has heard and name anyone else that could corroborate them. Be sure to clearly state that they are rumors.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:16 pm
by Mlm
I would wait for HR's response to the complaint. This happened to a co-worker with a Sr. VP of my company. It was a lawsuit waiting to happen so they fired the VP. Afterwards many other women came forward and said the he had also been inappropriate with them too.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:16 pm
by KyleAAA
I think a police report could be appropriate here. You shouldn't try to play armchair lawyer and make a determination of whether or not it was illegal before reporting it. Let the experts handle that. If it isn't a crime, the police will tell you so. I completely disagree with the advice above to let HR handle this. This wasn't an offense by the company against OP's wife. It was an offense by an individual that just happened to occur at an office. If this had happened on a street corner, would you advise OP's wife to let HR of the local DOT handle it? Of course not. You could also contact a lawyer first and let them advise you on whether or not she should file a police report. But just letting HR handle it is not good advice.

At the very least, this person should be fired. If they aren't promptly fired, if it were me, I'd retain a lawyer and force the issue. This behavior cannot be tolerated in 2019.

Of course, ultimately it's completely up to your wife. Don't make a big deal about it if she would prefer to keep it quiet. Agree with the advice above that you should document everything, especially verbal admissions along the lines of "this isn't the first time we've gotten complaints about him."

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:19 pm
by CFM300
BogleMelon wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:33 pm
Questions:
- Is the police a good idea at this phase?
- Should she contact a lawyer instead?
- What she should be asking for/expecting during the interview with the state employee, so she doesn't lose her rights and in the same time to make sure that this will never happen again in the future?
I think she should contact an attorney, so that she can get clear on terminology and law, at a minimum.

An attorney would also be able to answer the first and third questions posed above.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:27 pm
by ponyboy
OP never stated if the person was a male or female.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:28 pm
by HomeStretch
ponyboy wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:27 pm
OP never stated if the person was a male or female.
OP said “she asked him” and “he didn’t mean anything bad” in the original post.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:29 pm
by KyleAAA
ponyboy wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:27 pm
OP never stated if the person was a male or female.
OP refered to "him" and "he" multiple times.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:29 pm
by Whakamole
Get an attorney well-versed in workplace harassment (and that includes inappropriate touching); if you can find one familiar with this specific workplace, even better. Get their advice.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:31 pm
by ponyboy
HomeStretch wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:28 pm
ponyboy wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:27 pm
OP never stated if the person was a male or female.
OP said “she asked him” and “he didn’t mean anything bad” in the original post.
You're right. Not sure how I missed that. I would also be curious in what context the person put their hands on your wife. Not saying its ever right. People shouldnt be touched at all...just curious what the conversation was or how the person was acting.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:36 pm
by perl
Do not do not do not do not assume that the employer will be helpful or on your wife's side. I know too many people in similar situations (or worse - severe sexual harassment, stalking) who were not helped at all by the employer.

I would talk to a lawyer ASAP and definitely would not go to the next meeting before consulting an attorney.

I would find out immediately what consent is required for recording conversations in your state and begin recording all discussions about this (with permission if it is a two-party consent state in the US).

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:36 pm
by BogleMelon
ponyboy wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:27 pm
OP never stated if the person was a male or female.
A male

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:38 pm
by surfstar
Thread title made me wince.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:39 pm
by BogleMelon
ponyboy wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:31 pm
HomeStretch wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:28 pm
ponyboy wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:27 pm
OP never stated if the person was a male or female.
OP said “she asked him” and “he didn’t mean anything bad” in the original post.
You're right. Not sure how I missed that. I would also be curious in what context the person put their hands on your wife. Not saying its ever right. People shouldnt be touched at all...just curious what the conversation was or how the person was acting.
No context ever! They are no friends to start with. She was sitting on a chair doing her job, when he came behind her for no reason and did that. When she yelled at him to never do that again, he smiled and left.

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:40 pm
by BogleMelon
KyleAAA wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:16 pm
I think a police report could be appropriate here. You shouldn't try to play armchair lawyer and make a determination of whether or not it was illegal before reporting it. Let the experts handle that. If it isn't a crime, the police will tell you so. I completely disagree with the advice above to let HR handle this. This wasn't an offense by the company against OP's wife. It was an offense by an individual that just happened to occur at an office. If this had happened on a street corner, would you advise OP's wife to let HR of the local DOT handle it? Of course not. You could also contact a lawyer first and let them advise you on whether or not she should file a police report. But just letting HR handle it is not good advice.

At the very least, this person should be fired. If they aren't promptly fired, if it were me, I'd retain a lawyer and force the issue. This behavior cannot be tolerated in 2019.

Of course, ultimately it's completely up to your wife. Don't make a big deal about it if she would prefer to keep it quiet. Agree with the advice above that you should document everything, especially verbal admissions along the lines of "this isn't the first time we've gotten complaints about him."
I appreciate your responses. Thank you

Re: Inappropriate touching in a workplace- What is the best act?

Posted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:42 pm
by LadyGeek
This thread has run its course and is locked (relationship issue, not a consumer nor personal finance issue). See: Acceptable Topics and Subforum Guidelines
This is an investing and personal finance forum. We also maintain a subforum that allow our members to discuss consumer goods and services and recreational activities. Anything else is considered "Off Topic" and is not acceptable on this forum.