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  ADVICE, NO CONSENT

Dear Abby Comes To Defense Of Gay Man Harassed By Amorous Female Co-Worker

Some closet queen in Texas wrote to popular advice column Dear Abby — we’re more Ann Landers kinda gals, but to each her own — about a pushy co-worker who can’t take ‘mo for an answer. Adding fuel to her burning desire, the entire office has gotten on board, leaving poor Can’t Come Out in Texas with a moral dilemma on his hands — to beard or not to beard:

Dear Abby: I am a 29-year-old gay man. Coming out at work isn’t an option. I like my job and want to keep it. However, a female colleague is not only trying to persuade me that the two of us would make a good pair, she has gotten all of our co-workers involved. I have already told everyone, including her, that I’m not interested in mixing my personal life with my professional one. However, because of my unwillingness to do what they “recommend,” the pressure from everyone has gotten worse. Would it be unethical to hire a “girlfriend” to stop by the office next week to bring me my lunch? Maybe my co-workers will finally back off.

— Can’t Come Out in Texas

Abby, however, is not pulling any punches and she knows sexual harassment when she hears it:

Dear Can’t Come Out: You have described a classic example of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. Your co-workers and supervisor may consider themselves to be “Cupid’s helpers,” but their actions could be the basis for a lawsuit. That you are gay has nothing to do with it. If you were straight, what is being done to you would still be intolerable. Document everything. Go to your supervisor’s boss if necessary and state plainly that you need help to stop this.

And this is why we need the Employee Non-Discrimination Act. Here those co-workers are wasting their precious slacking-off time trying to set up Can’t Come Out in Texas with a woman when they should be trying to get him together with eligible bachelor Can’t Get a Date in New York. No one’s going to be crying sexual harassment at that wedding — or, since this is Texas we’re talking about, that same-sex commitment ceremony the government won’t recognize.

By:           Les Fabian Brathwaite
On:           Sep 4, 2012
Tagged: , ,

  • 21 Comments
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      Sexual harassment is a serious claim. It should be taken seriously not thrown around by some advice columnist who most likely does not know the whole story. My guess would be that this guy never bothered to flat out turn down this girl because he knows doing so would make people ask questions. He most likely is leading her on. Its only sexual harassment if it is VERY clear that the attention is not wanted or if it crosses a sexual line.

      That being said, there is no reason this guy can not go out on one date with this girl, and if they hit it off he can be friendly. If they do not then he does not have to go out again, or he could just come out of the closet and deal with the consequences. If he gets fired then he can find a job where the people and environment are more supportive, and I’m sure those jobs exist even in Texas. Ultimately, you chose where you want to work and who you earn money for, and if you chose to work for bigots then that is on you.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 8:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ncman
      ncman

      Lester, you state

      ” — we’re more Ann Landers kinda gals, but to each her own — ”

      Are you trans? You keep referring to yourself with female pronouns, but you haven’t picked out your female name yet. Maybe you and the other “gals” at Queerty should write a post asking for suggestions.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 9:11 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Olive Austin
      Olive Austin

      @tdx3fan – Your employer lives in fear of ignorance such as yours when you state “It[']s only sexual harassment if it is VERY clear that the attention is not wanted or if it crosses a sexual line.”

      Sexual harassment does not depend upon how/if it appears to be received by the prey. For decades, women “tolerated” unwanted advances by their male bosses because to not do so would immediately end their employment. Was that not sexual harassment?

      RUN — don’t walk — to your HR department and demand that they give you remedial training on sexual harassment law. You’re a danger to your employer.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 9:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ncman
      ncman

      @tdx3fan: How can you make the claim that he hasn’t turn this girl down. His letter very clearly states:

      “I have already told everyone, including her, that I’m not interested in mixing my personal life with my professional one.”

      Which are you suggesting, that the statement isn’t clear enough or that he is lying about having made the statement?

      Sep 4, 2012 at 9:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @tdx3fan: said…


      Sexual harassment is a serious claim. It should be taken seriously not thrown around by some advice columnist who most likely does not know the whole story. My guess would be that this guy never bothered to flat out turn down this girl because he knows doing so would make people ask questions. ”
      _____________

      Actually, you are an obvious troll or somebody who is seriously misguided.

      Just what do you think “Sexual Harassment” is? This person is being made to feel uncomfortable at work for not dating or sleeping with a co-worker. That is the definition.

      His reasons for not dating her are irrelevent. The fact is, he has stated he doesn’t want to, and not only did it not stop, but it ramped up.

      You are telling him to lie to the girl and go out on a date with her which actually would hurt his claim of sexual harassment.

      So lets review.
      1. You tried to claim that this isn’t a case of harassment, when it meets the exact definition.
      2. You are encouraging him to do something that would actually harm his claim.

      Why not just come out and say you want the guy to be fired?

      Sep 4, 2012 at 10:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Olive Austin: Its no longer the 1990s when companies would roll over backwards every time a woman claimed she was uncomfortable. I said that they needed to be either very CLEAR that the attention is not wanted or it has to CROSS A SEXUAL LINE. I love how you throw out the second part of what I said in order to make your point.

      If a worker/client continuously flirts with the office secretary and she makes no point to tell him that she finds his behavior inappropriate at any time then its probably not going to make headway as a case for sexual harassment. If he grabs her ass its a completely different case. There has been a backlash to the whole PC thing now though, and the vast majority of talk (unless it clearly making someone completely uncomfortable and they state that fact) is not going to see a million dollar lawsuit.

      From the website of the US EEOC website at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm, “Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”

      I would say that making comments about how cute it would be for someone to date someone else unless you KNOW they are offended by those comments falls under “simple teasing, offhand comments” and is “not very serious.”

      Also, I am very, very careful what I say to my co-workers since I am male, but I work with a great deal many women that basically say what they want when they want. Now, I could probably make a public case about the whole thing, but I have the balls to actually take it as the joke it was attended as instead of calling an attorney every time I get my feelings hurt, so do the women I work with.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 10:12 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @ncman: “I have already told everyone, including her, that I’m not interested in mixing my personal life with my professional one.”

      Exactly, that is absolutely NOT turning her down. Its making up a bullshit excuse as to why you would not want to date someone. Turning someone down implies he told her flat out that he is not interested. All he says is he does not want to date someone he works with. That is EXTREMELY weak. If he does not want the attention then most likely all he has to do is tell her flat out that he thinks she is a nice person but he is simply not interested. Unless she is a deranged psychopath that gets off on stalking her co-workers she would most likely back off at that point. Unless, he gets something out of it because her attention and his attention back at her makes it much less likely that anyone is going to start questioning where he wants to put his dick.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 10:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Cam: You know exactly what he has said and done huh? Are you in his mind. Do you have a larger amount of information than the rest of us? You know exactly how it is for him in the workplace?

      Unless he can PROVE (the burden of proof is on the accuser) that he feels uncomfortable in the workplace because of this situation then he has no claim of sexual harassment.

      Sexual harassment is a strong term and when you throw it around every time someone feels the least bit of discomfort (without having any idea what they are actually saying or doing in the workplace other than what they TELL you) then you are cheapening the experience of people who actually do get harassed.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 10:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ken
      Ken

      When he says that he doesn’t want to mix his personal life with his professional life, he is not dealing with the problem at hand. Most people think it is okay to fall in love with a coworker as long as you keep the resulting relationship out of the office. He’s promising to keep the relationship out of the office after it forms. He’s actually giving them the green light for their match making.

      He does NOT have to reveal his sexuality, because that is not the issue. She is. He could take one coworker to lunch and reveal the true problem in a low voice. He didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but it has gone so far that he has no choice. She just doesn’t turn him on. She’s a nice person and all that, but there’s no spark. There never was, now, thanks to the office, there never will be. This is like having his wedding night in a football stadium with the lights on and the bleachers filled with a cheering crowd. It’s embarrassing and a total turn-off. If there had ever been anything there, they would have killed it. They really need to stop before they hurt her.

      The coworker will spread the word and the problem will stop.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 10:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • petensfo
      petensfo

      In this case, I would explain to the coworker that if she doesn’t back off, that you will ask a supervisor to intervene. Going to HR immediately will only make his office problems worse as he’ll be labelled a troublemaker or unworthy of promotion because he can’t manage his own interpersonal issues on the job.

      Is it right? Nope. But that’s the real world.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 11:03 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PTBoat
      PTBoat

      The is a perfect example of why, contrary to what the religious right has to say, it is hard for gay men to stay in the closet; this constant barrage of people either trying to assign one’s orientation, or the need to “fix him up” with another single never stops. Besides the fact that closet cases throw us all under the bus while they are trying to reap the benefits of passing as straight, this another side effect of living a lie. This whole thing wouldn’t be a problem if he were out.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ncman
      ncman

      @PTBoat: It may very well be a problem if he were out. He has stated that coming out at work ISN’T AN OPTION. Why can’t he be taken at his word about that? Coming out may get him fired. Many states have no protection for LGBT employees. And, contrary to what some people say, you can’t just go pick yourself another job in this economy. You take what you can get.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 1:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @tdx3fan: said…


      @Cam: You know exactly what he has said and done huh? Are you in his mind. Do you have a larger amount of information than the rest of us? You know exactly how it is for him in the workplace?”
      _________________

      Nice try. You create a situation that doesn’t exist then try to lie and make your point. I stated clearly what was in the story to make mine.

      If you have to lie about the law, and about what was in the story to make your point, then you should probably rethink your point.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 1:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Charlie in Charge
      Charlie in Charge

      @tdx3fan: “If a worker/client continuously flirts with the office secretary and she makes no point to tell him that she finds his behavior inappropriate at any time then its probably not going to make headway as a case for sexual harassment.”

      I sure hope you don’t work in HR. As a matter of fact no, the person on the receiving end of sexual harassment does not need to say anything to the person who made a comment to them. They are within there rights to go to their HR representative or manager – this is pretty standard.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 4:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joincny
      Joincny

      @tdx3fan: What awful advice! Why would you tell a gay guy to go out on a date with a woman? To promote the deception, lead her on??

      Sep 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Olive Austin
      Olive Austin

      @tdx3fan — Defending your ignorance doesn’t make you any less ignorant. A wise man knows what he doesn’t know; a fool doesn’t know but is certain he does.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • tdx3fan
      tdx3fan

      @Charlie in Charge: I said it is probably not going to make headway as a case for sexual harassment. Sexual harassment cases have to be tried. Its going to be pretty hard for her to make her case in court if she never speaks up. Its not until after she goes to HR, which is speaking up, and they do nothing or the behavior continues that she has an actual case. At that point, it becomes a hostile working environment.

      @Olive Austin: You mean by stating the same statement that is on the EEOC website?

      “Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”

      Sep 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • FStratford
      FStratford

      Well… I like the advise. First, get the boss to stop it. Second, get HR to stop it. IF it doesn’t work, sue!

      For those who think that the gay dude should go out on a date with the obsessive girl, get a life!

      Sep 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ruhlmann
      Ruhlmann

      @tdx3fan: She crossed the sexual harassment line when he told her no for any reason and she enlisted co-workers to plead her case. You don’t know what you are talking about.

      Sep 4, 2012 at 10:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Olive Austin
      Olive Austin

      @tdx3fan — My employer (a multi-billion dollar global computer maker and services provider) isn’t willing to bet the company on a jury’s interpretation of the EEOC website’s verbage. That’s why we have annual (re-)training by every employee, worldwide, on sexual harassment and we’re held to a much higher standard of conduct than what MIGHT be “culturally acceptable”. It’s good business and good for business.

      But you go ahead and take that chance since you seem to have nothing much to lose.

      Sep 5, 2012 at 8:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lester Brathwaite
      Lester Brathwaite · Queerty Editor

      @ncman: I go by Trangela Mansbury and/or Guyana Ross.

      Sep 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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