Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: A Collegiette's Story

I, like other Collegiettes, have had many, many jobs during my college career. This is my fifth year of undergrad, and I have worked seven different places since I have turned 18. My jobs have ranged from making collection calls and cutting checks for company bills, to scrubbing toilets, to an internship supervising “juvenile delinquents” while they eat dinner in their cell block.

One thing I’ve learned is that, unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace can sometimes happen.

The first time I was sexually harassed in a workplace was during a job I had in highschool. It was a retail job and I was their youngest employee; I had just turned 17. A coworker said something that not only made me feel horribly uncomfortable, but I also felt physically threatened. I went home and cried about it. No one had been around us to hear, and I didn’t know what to do. The next time I worked with a shift manager I liked, I asked him to not schedule me with that co-worker anymore, he asked why, I started crying. He told the store manager and the next week the guy was gone. I was a minor and there had been complaints on the guy before; the combination was why he was asked to leave.

I’m an adult now, as most of us are. We can’t rely on crying to our manager to change anything. There are some things that you can do if you ever experience something that makes you feel uncomfortable while you work.



Here are some things that I have done personally, to remedy the situation in the past and these have been the results:

1. Report coworker’s behavior with specific details of the offense to a manager. Result: the offender was let go.

2. Treat the inappropriate boss/store owner with incredibly passive-aggressive, rude behavior. Result: I was fired.

3. Told the offending coworker what behavior made me uncomfortable; asked they not do it again. This was essentially a, “please don’t make me report you,” approach. Result: Co-worker changed behavior appropriately, work was pleasant again.



Of course Option 1 is the best here. Afterall, no one should make you, or anyone else, feel uncomfortable in their workplace. Option 3 was a specific situation, just because I was friends with the person and that particular working environment included a lot of casual sex talk. Normal workplaces should not involve sex talk. No one in your workplace should make you feel inferior or uncomfortable about your looks. Please report any, and all harassment to your manager. Everyone deserves a working environment where they feel comfortable.

If it’s your manager that makes you feel uncomfortable, report it to the store supervisor, or store owner. If it is the store owner that is making you feel so horrible about yourself. Well. My advice is to not be passive aggressive about it. S/he’ll definitely find a stupid reason to fire you and then there will be an annoying gap in your resume. In hindsight, I wish I had taken some action but I didn’t do my research. Happy working, Collegiette. Know your rights, be confident; be confrontational.