What is Inappropriate Touching and Recourse

Amazon huntdaunt
Jul 18 32 Comments

A female friend had a coffee chat with a male colleague from partner team. The coffee chat was positioned as the male colleague wanting to learn about where she volunteers and for her to learn about what the male colleague works on.

The male colleague sat closely and he touched her shoulder and knee/leg area a few times. The female friend thought maybe he is overly friendly - until the male colleague grabbed her hand to comment on her nails.

Apparently a nice guy at work, married. She was confused if this is some Cultural thing. Her company is a recently IPOed enterprise tech company. She doesnt know if there are proper HR channels, and wondering what an effective course of action is. Top mgmt is all about diversity and gender. Middle management not capable and proper protocols doesnt seem to exist. Advice?

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TOP 32 Comments
  • Lending Club de4;:&)((@
    He wants to duck her...no other reason.
    Jul 18 1
    • Amazon huntdaunt
      OP
      :) so definitely harassment
      Jul 18
  • Uber uber101
    That is why I am scared to even have a coffee or lunch with colleague. You never know some accidental brushing off might land you in the HR office.
    Jul 18 6
    • Clover Health sinkinship
      If you're unable to not touch your colleagues, you should be afraid of coffee or lunch.

      It's not called coffee or lunch and touching.
      Jul 18
    • Microsoft hryofe
      You’re scared you might “accidentally” molest someone and be unfairly punished for it in today’s PC gone mad culture? You poor baby you.
      Jul 18
    • This is actually very bad advice. Men touching each other and talking about sensitive subjects is much more acceptable than doing the same to women. Men interacting with women in the same way they do men is an easy path to getting fired.

      Perhaps a more fitting test is "would I say/do this to the Rock's wife, with him in the room".
      Jul 18
    • Clover Health sinkinship
      That's actually very bad advice. You shouldn't be touching men either. You're assuming that people are okay with your levels of intimacy.

      *Narrator: They weren't*
      Jul 19
  • Indeed indood
    She should just tell the dude that she felt uncomfortable and if he tries that again she will report him. But yeah, sounds like the dude is trying to get it in.
    Jul 18 0
  • Just like how police have an escalation of force that starts with talking to people and leads up to tasers and lethal force, there's an escalation of force progression for inappropriate behavior:

    0. Display discomfort with body language. Someone takes your hand and you don't like it, pull your hand back. Someone touches your leg, recoil and grimace. This is the least intense way of getting people to stop, but also the most suble. So even with well-intentioned people you may need to escalate to #1.

    1. Tell the person in private (slack DM works fine), "The way you touched me... (describe what happened) ...made me feel uncomfortable, do not do it again." This will end the behavior for people that were just socially awkward and genuinely do not want to make you feel uncomfortable.

    0 or 1 will take care of the situation for anyone that is just socially awkard and doesn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable. If those fail, it's fair to conclude that the creep is an intentional creep and you need to start making it clear that there will be consequences if this behavior continues.

    2a. Tell the person in private, again, "this makes me feel uncomfortable, and I may need to involve HR if this behavior continues". Drop those two magic letters, and people will realize that you mean business.

    2b. Tell your manager to tell the person to stop. They creep may not respect you, but they'll probably respect the person that writes their performance reviews. If your manager is the creep, or is friends with the creep use 2a.

    3. If 2 doesn't work, this is the point at which you go to HR yourself and tell them the situation.

    4. Go to HR again, and be more assertive. Drop the phrase "Hostile workplace environment". The goal is to make HR believe that this is the last straw between actual legal action (wouldn't actually recommend legal action, though, save for egregious cases. Cynical truth is that the personal and monetary cost isn't worth it, but I do respect those that make that sacrifice to get companies to shape up their HR departments).

    Of course, if someone is an unambiguous harasser or groper (e.g. touching breasts, crotch. Nobody grabs someone there thinking it's normal behavior between co-workers) go straight to 2, 3, or maybe even 4.
    Jul 18 1
    • Slack qwdb4j
      👏🏻yasssssss 👏🏻
      Aug 16
  • Walmart.com QTFP86
    Where are you in this whole script OP? 😐🙂
    Jul 18 4
    • Amazon huntdaunt
      OP
      Just found out. Thinking consequence/ red card for the male colleague. If similar issue comes up, then he should be axed. Also for HR / company to have basic code of conduct in place.
      Jul 18
    • Oath Atinlay2
      You seem more bothered about it than your “friend”, maybe your “friend” didn’t mind.
      Jul 18
    • Amazon huntdaunt
      OP
      Not really... but I am disturbed by the lack of awareness and professionalism among employees. Amazon has a video training + multiple choice question about this, and issues a certificate that needs to be renewed yearly. Things like - a colleague shares good news, what is appropriate way to communicate? Select all appropriate: A. High five, B. Rub back, C. Squeeze shoulders, D. Hug. E. Physical contact below that is not the arm or back. When i first took the training, i thought it was a joke. But maybe something like this is needed.
      Jul 18
    • Oath Atinlay2
      🙄
      Jul 18
  • Amazon 🌲$°
    Touched her shoulder and knee a few times, then hand. Now wants to report to HR.
    It does sound inappropriate, but at some point I was expecting you to say she told him to stop touching her. That didn't happen as the touching escalated? Why go to HR now if the whole meeting ended without telling him it wasn't alright.

    The way you describe it, I bet he would ask for a follow up coffee.
    Jul 18 2
    • Amazon huntdaunt
      OP
      This seems to be a common, typical response from many.

      Why is the baseline expectation = why didnt she say she was uncomfortable? The baseline expectation should be = you shouldnt touch people you dont know well. And if this baseline expectation is compromised, itll be a WTF moment. Things turned really strange when he tapped her knee, which caused her to think WTF. Conversation continued a little until the hand thing at which point the physical distance was created and meeting ended.
      Jul 18
    • Amazon 🌲$°
      I agree with you OP on the base expectation of the guy shouldn't touch people. I agree with it turning into a wtf moment on the knee touch.

      If the other person is in your personal space and it is uncomfortable, no matter how close or far it is (this could happen without touch), it should be made clear.

      From your telling, that happened after the hand touch, by ending the meeting.
      Jul 18
  • Realistically, she has to weigh risks of reporting. But she should still report, as guys like this can get “comfortable” and start escalating with other people.

    I've seen it happen and the org in question would've been delighted to be able to solve the issue by telling the guy to cut it out, rather than deal with major organizational problems, staff trauma, severances, medical bills, and press fallout once he escalated to far more serious behavior.
    Jul 18 2
    • Clover Health sinkinship
      You're assuming he hasn't been told to cut it out before. That can't be asserted, considering he's showing very capably of doing it.
      Jul 18
    • All the more reason to report it to HR. A pattern is only a pattern if it's documented.
      Jul 18
  • RhythmOne BeerGod
    Is she worried about repercussions if she talks to him about it?
    Jul 18 2
    • Amazon huntdaunt
      OP
      A little bit. Seems like her colleague has supported her on her projects. It’s more a concern with lack of professionalism her male colleagues display towards minorities and women at her company in general. She’s wondering if the culture will just turn to shit, and whether her trying to be proactive with HR leads to no where. She would like to keep shit like this documented, but wonders if she’ll just put herself in an awkward position with her management team.
      Jul 18
    • Clover Health sinkinship
      While understandable if she's fearful, not reporting will allow this man to continue behavior like that.
      Jul 18
  • Walmart.com QTFP86
    Harsh and bitter truth about HR department in all big companies... all put company interest first.
    I know lot of cases, most residue to he-says she-says. onus is more on victim when case goes into courtroom, that is reality, you can bash it or someone can put up an argument what if case could be falsifying...
    Jul 18 0
  • Oath Atinlay2
    It wasn’t at work or at a work event. It isn’t an HR issue. “Friend” could have asked him not to touch.
    Jul 18 2
    • Amazon huntdaunt
      OP
      I think it was at work.but really? Lol
      Jul 18
    • Oath Atinlay2
      Really “friend”

      It’s not an insignificant detail.
      Jul 18
  • Apple kgf37w
    In Apple, the guy gets a HR talk and gets pushed into a lesser role if there is a pattern. There is essentially no recourse for him. To establish a pattern, you need a few incidents and/or witnesses.
    Jul 21 0
  • Flagged by the community.