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Sexual harassment - where's the line?

(8 Posts)
VPNerror Sun 24-Mar-13 09:05:32

Not sure whether this is the right place for this one but it is about work relationships.

A new guy started in my office a few weeks ago. He's in his 50s and has been working in a European branch for many years.

I returned from a week's training course on Friday afternoon and was quite surprised to be greeted with a kiss on the cheek by someone I'd only spoken to twice previously. In a work context I would often kiss French or Belgian etc..male contacts that I know well but Brits don't generally kiss hello or goodbye like this. It made me feel uncomfortable.

We then needed to discuss some outstanding work for his team which is very overstretched. He showed me a draft Board paper which was shockingly unfit for purpose and I said I would rework it that evening on the train. (It crossed into my area and I couldn't bear to be associated with the existing version.) Hearing this he insisted on giving me all his personal contact details incl. home phone and petsonal mobile. When he asked for mine, I told him that my work mobile was on the team contact list.

He tried to phone me on Saturday afternoon but I ignored it.

Alarm bells are starting to go off in my head.But I know it could be all coincidental. He's been living in a country where people greet with kisses. Perhaps he's just very conscientious and was working on this paper himself over the weekend.

He's 20 years older and very slightly senior to me (more management responsibility while my job is strategic advice to the top brass).

I would have answered the phone to any other colleague. No one at work has ever made me feel so uncomfortable.

Luckily, I have no doubt that if he did anything clearly inappropriate that my very senior manager and his director would come down like a ton of bricks. But his general manner is already making my skin crawl.

There are two much younger women in his team that I now feel I should keep a close eye on

Where's the line? And how do I know if I'm overreacting?

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 24-Mar-13 09:15:17

The line is where you set it. If you're uncomfortable with his behaviour, say so. When he lunges for a kiss, hold a hand very firmly out in front and block.

RedBushedT Sun 24-Mar-13 09:19:04

I really can't see anything in what you've said that would make me uncomfortable. unless there has been more then I would think he has just picked up the culture of kissing colleague on the cheek while he been working in Europe.
As for the phone numbers, you're reworking his work. He possibly wants to check you don't rewrite it in a way he's not happy with...

VPNerror Sun 24-Mar-13 09:27:15

Rationally, I can't see a problem either. But in all my years of working life and different office and country environments, I've never had this reaction or concern about a colleague.

Cogito is probably right. I'm the one who is uncomfortable and should set a clear boundary.

Agree with Cogito. If it makes you uncomfortable put a stop to it. Either pull away, or mention to him it makes you feel uncomfortable.

As for the calling. It's your work phone. You don't have to answer it. Just keep to the tactics you have employed.

You could also have an off the record chat with your boss.

Don't second guess yourself, go with your gut. IF you don't like it, it's not appropriate

chibi Sun 24-Mar-13 09:44:04

your gut won't lie to you, but 30something years of socialisation in a culture that doesn't give a shit about women will

find a canny way of getting him to fuck off, and keep an eye on the women in his team

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 24-Mar-13 09:47:50

Some people are just more 'up close and personal' than others and you can repel them with blocking tactics or a jokey remark. 'Oi! Octopus Boy... do you mind?!' If he's overtly slobbery or suggestive, escalate.

Anniegetyourgun Sun 24-Mar-13 09:54:47

Just because he may have picked up a cultural habit doesn't mean you have to let him kiss you. (I have to say he sounds feckin' creepy to me, but I do like my personal space.)

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