6 months ago, I got my first “grown-up job,” working in an office as opposed to a retail or customer service position. About 3 weeks ago, I was involved in my first workplace sexual harassment case. I’m just growing up so fast! I feel like I could’ve done without this particular part of it though.
It wasn’t particularly traumatizing or horrible, just your basic creep that had to be dealt with, but there were other things that happened in the process.
Throughout the past couple weeks, the head of Human Resources met with me, him, supervisors, and several witnesses, most of us she even talked to twice. Towards the end of the whole situation, a few things came to light, and in my final meeting with HR, I almost lost my job along with the guy I was fighting against.
After all the decisions had been finalized, I had my final follow-up with HR to wrap up the situation, and she proceeded to lecture me for about 20 minutes about my behavior. I am well aware that I and everyone else should act a certain way, and at your job, you’re held to a higher standard, but this still rubbed me the wrong way.
It turns out the creep was almost let off the hook completely because I had joked around with him in the past. Apparently if you’re friendly with someone, that means that all boundaries are gone and any inappropriate comments and behaviors are totally acceptable.
Let me tell you, I was absolutely livid, and I still get angry every time I think about it. I have completely lost all respect for the Head of HR. On one hand, I understand that she was just trying to do her job, but on the other hand, how dare she? To imply, nay, to come right out and say, that friendly conversation with a co-worker is an open door to harassment including, but not limited to, hovering around my desk despite multiple people telling him to go away, constantly finding reasons to touch my shoulders, arms, and back, and making repeated comments about my boobs.
I know I’m new to this, but is this really how things work? I know that there are plenty of people that share this attitude, which, in itself is downright disgusting. I guess I just didn’t expect to see it from a person who deals with people and relations for a living. Is this my official Welcome into Adulthood: Realizing just how big and close to home the problems are that I’m fighting against?
So now, I’m facing a weird combination of being incredibly bummed and depressed about the state of the world, and being fired up and ready to take on anything that comes my way. Maybe I won’t go down in history for being a revolutionary and maybe I can’t change the world, but damn me if I just sit down and give up. That’s for sure not going to happen.