SO.... recently I had an incident at work that was so unbelievably offensive that I had to let this post sit for a while, with TITLE only, because I was incredibly blinded by rage and couldn't look at it reasonably. I am still piping hot angry over it, but I know that this is not in the heat of the moment rage.
So, when I started at a job, I reported one of my assistant managers for sexual harassment, I reported it to his boss, (an area manager) who said that he would talk to him, and that it should stop. A few weeks went by with no improvement in the harassment. I continued to get comments about my body, and replies to innocent commentary like "I'm hot." (I worked outside) such as "Yeah you are." The leering and staring made me uncomfortable. So, I reported it again, to the same member of upper management. After this I did not hear much me about it, and was transferred to another location with a promotion.
It was always my assumption that the issue had been properly escalated and investigated. Perhaps some punishment, unknown to me, was handed out. At the very least I knew that I was basically kept away from him, and I eventually learned to stand up for myself, and if he said something that made me uncomfortable, I spoke up. Then my (now) husband came to work for us, and it basically stopped. He is inexplicably terrified of my husband.
Recently I was asked to take on a project with him, I was hesitant, and I spoke to another area manager about it. She had never ever heard of the previous issue. I took a deep breath and moved on, telling her would have been a lateral move, of course he escalated it to the next level. She said she would see if she could get me moved off the project, it wouldn't be fair to make me work in an environment that made me feel uncomfortable.
At the meeting later on in the day I was still announced as his partner in the project. Apparently I shot him a dirty look at one point, totally reflex. And when our boss made a joke about "getting along" my response was clearly sarcastic, again not my intent, but I wear my emotions on my sleeve.
After the meeting I was asked "what that was about" and did this other manager and I "have a history". I went through the story again, and he had not heard anything about it either. The logical next step in the chain of command, had not been told, about a sexual harassment complaint. It had never escalated beyond the person I told initially.
AS if this wasn't bad enough, I was then asked to put it behind me, since it stopped now and "be the bigger person" for the sake of the project, after all it only takes about 5 minutes twice a week of actually working/talking together. I am ashamed to say that agreed to do this, for the sake of my job.
As the afternoon went on I became more and more upset by this incident. Memories kept popping up of things he had said and done. Like this story he thought appropriate to share with me: At the meeting where my promotion was announced, he apparently couldn't remember my name, so when I was described to him, his response was "Oh, you mean the hot one?" What the what?! Not only is this comment highly inappropriate, but he thought it was okay to make a comment like that (at all) in front of people who were my superiors, and are now my peers. And then he thought it was okay to tell me about it.
Then I had all the whys in my head. Why did he think this was okay? Was he ever even spoken to? Is that why it hadn't stopped? Why hadn't it ever been escalated appropriately? Why was I now being asked to put it behind me? Was is because I am a woman? Does that mean that my opinions don't matter? That he thought I was being frivolous? Was it because I am fat? Because I am fat, I should just be flattered that he thinks I'm attractive, right? Or I must have made it up because no one could possibly be sexually harassing me. I don't know if he did this to other women, or girls, while I was away at other stores. I hope that now this has been addressed with him and he will stop he creeptastic ways.
At one point someone said to me "That was a long time ago, does it even matter anymore?" YES. Yes it still matters, yes it will always matter. Being a victim matters. Having a serious workplace issue ignored matters. Being asked to put it behind you without any kind of closure matters. It all matters.
Please, if you are a victim of sexual harassment or any kind of harassment, at work, school, over the Internet, or anywhere in your life. Be your own advocate. Speak up. follow up. Make sure you end it so it doesn't happen to someone else. It will not be easy, but doing the right thing isn't always doing the easy thing, in fact, most of the time it's the hardest thing to do. Keep in mind there are usually 1-800 numbers, or websites where you can report harassment anonymously.