Inappropriate behavior at work. What is it? I know it seems like it should be an easy question to answer.  So what else would I do? I go to the Google. What I found was interesting, but still a bit confusing.  

Matt Lauer was fired from NBC and the Today Show for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace”  Lauer is the latest in the growing list of high profile people accused of inappropriate workplace behavior.

A few weeks ago the #metoo to show just how many people have been affected by sexual assault and harassment.  It is my belief that just about everyone has been on receiving end of some of that behavior at some point.  How moment(s) of sexual assault or harassment impacted your day, your life, your job…those outcomes vary, in my opinion, depending on the persons involved.

OK, I do not have an real answers for you. But, I would encourage you to check your workplace’s employee handbook and ask your employer for what they have to say on your workplace's code of conduct and culture. But my Google search was interesting. The Balance had a post on sexual vs. non-sexual harassment.  Some of it is obvious, and honestly, some is more nuanced.

Here are some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace according to The Balance:

-Sharing sexually inappropriate images or videos, such as pornography, with co-workers.
-Sending suggestive letters, notes, or e-mails.
-Displaying inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace.
-Telling lewd jokes, or sharing sexual anecdotes.
-Making inappropriate sexual gestures.
-Staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner, or whistling.
-Making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts.
-Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person.
-Asking sexual questions, such as questions about someone's sexual history or their sexual orientation.
-Making offensive comments about someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.

See, some of that, is clear cut. Some of that has some gray; one persons ‘funny’ joke is another person’s ‘lewd’ joke.

Now let us get into a hostile workplace.  The Balance had it defined as:

“Harassment in the workplace can take on many different facades. Harassers may make offensive jokes, call victims’ names, threaten fellow employees physically or verbally, ridicule others, display offensive photographs, or impede on another person’s work throughout the day. Harassment might be based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, gender, nationality, age, physical or mental disability, or genetic information.”

So when does one person’s attempt at humor or interacting turn into something into something else.  The Balance had an answer for that as well:

Harassment becomes unlawful when either the conduct becomes a requirement to continued employment (or if it affects an employee’s salary or status), or the conduct is considered hostile, abusive, or intimidating.”

So what can you do?   Oh, gees, I bet everyone would have some advice for you if you asked.  But The Balance seems to have a reasonable selection of choices:

“If you do not want to file a claim or contact a lawyer, but you find the work environment unbearable, you might consider other options. One is to solve the issue you are having with the person or persons making the work environment hostile. You might speak to your company’s human resources office for advice on setting up a meeting or mediated conversation between you and the other party. For example, here is some advice for dealing with a difficult employer.

If staying at your workplace is unbearable, you might also consider resigning from your job. However, even if you are extremely unhappy at work, it is important to resign gracefully and professionally. You never know when you will need a recommendation or letter of reference from your boss, and a graceful exit will help you get a positive review.”

I would encourage you that if you like your job and there are some issues, discuss that with your Human Resources Officer.  I am willing to bet the person affecting your job may not be aware they are having that effect on you.  What their actions are from that point on, negative or positive, would be what I would use to guide what steps, if any, would happen next.

The Balance also pointed out if this sort of behavior is being exhibited during a job interview…the PROBABLY did not intend for their actions to come off as negative.

My personal advice would be if the job interview is creeping you out…ask yourself if that is REALLY the job for you.

I hope you find some of this interesting. I did.

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