When people don’t have the full story misconceptions can form.
But what if someone does have all the facts, but still doesn’t budge?
A man dealing with that situation at work turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.
Redditor freddiethroaway asked:
“AITA for refusing to speak to my coworker?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“I know how it sounds and looks, please save all judgements until after reading everything.”
“I (27, male) work with my partner of six years, Jamila (24, female). We’ve worked together for as long as we’ve been together, and most of our coworkers are aware of our relationship.”
“We are married as of 2020.”
“We recently took on a new intern Olivia, who’s in my department. I do most of her training and have been her ‘mentor’ through most of her time here.”
“Due to this, she spends a lot of her breaks with me and my group and leaves around the same time I do. Jamila comes to visit me during lunch and there is light PDA.”
“She’ll put her hand on my chest, take a bite of my lunch, squeeze my muscles, the usual flirty stuff. It’s not an issue usually so I didn’t think it would be one now.”
“My wife came home crying last Friday as she’d been reported to HR for harassment. There wasn’t any real repercussions since as soon as they opened her file they saw that we were married (HR documents these things).”
“I didn’t know of anyone who could’ve reported her until this Monday, Olivia asked me if Jamila was still groping me. I asked her what she meant and she told me she put in a report with HR because she saw Jamila grab my ass in the parking garage.”
“To be fair, Jamila did grab my ass, however the advance wasn’t unwanted. I explained to Olivia that Jamila and I were married however she was firm in her belief that Jamila shouldn’t touch me at all at work and that it sends a weird message to others at work.”
“Since then I’ve avoided speaking to Olivia if things aren’t work related and it’s been affecting her emotionally.”
“I still greet her and say my goodbyes when it’s time to leave, but she’s asked to get coffee together and I told her I’d be spending my breaks with Jamila or another coworker and I don’t invite her if I’m going somewhere for lunch.”
“She’s been very sad and inattentive at work and my coworkers are telling me to stop treating her this way because she was just looking out for my best interest.”
“Am I the asshole for refusing to speak to her if it’s not work related?”
The OP added a few more details.
“The PDA I mentioned is light touches, and it’s usually during breaks. We’ll share lunch, drink off of each other’s cups, I’ll occasionally hug her and she’ll grab my arm or lean her head on me.”
“We aren’t making out and grabbing each other at work outside of that one instance.”
“As far as introductions go, I told Olivia that Jamila was my ‘partner’ as that is usually how the company asks spouses to refer to one another.”
“Also I’m not ignoring her, however if it’s not work related ex: ‘Where is this?’ ‘How is this done?’ ‘Can you send out this email?’ then I don’t entertain it. She’s not being hindered to do her job.”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided OP was not the a**hole.
“NTA. She had no idea whether the grab was unwanted, as you did not complain. She just assumed.”
“You are well within your rights to keep it professional. You are not professionally obligated to go and have coffee with her at any time.” ~ Ambry215
“NTA. In fact, I think it is the smart thing to do. She seems pretty quick to jump to the ‘harassment’ conclusion without finding out about the situation & the people involved.”
“I would always make sure others were around when dealing with her too – you don’t want to be the subject of false allegations.”
“If she’s sad about the situation, oh well. How did she think this was going to play out?”
“How do your co-workers think she was ‘looking out for your best interests’ by getting your wife in trouble? Maybe one of the sympathetic co-workers can take her under their wing.” ~ First_Bumblebee_179
“You are very wise to restrict conversation with this co-worker to work related things only. Last thing you need is for her to be filing harassment charges against you.” ~ gw2kpro
“NTA. She tried to hurt your family. No contact outside the business necessary is a perfect solution.” ~ krlrk
“NTA…she didn’t ask you about the situation and went to an extreme step.”
“You feel you can’t trust her and don’t want to be friendly with her.”
“That’s a situation of her own making and not your problem.” ~ giantbrownguy
“NTA. She created a hostile work environment, not you.” ~ Equinista
“NTA – she should have gone to talk to you 1st before going straight to HR. She is a coworker not a friend.”
“If she is trying to get other workers to feel sad for her just let them know that what you are doing is in her best interest.” ~ CODE_NAME_DUCKY
“NTA. The only appropriate response from her was an apology and saying she didn’t know that was your wife and just wanted to make sure no one was being harassed in the office.”
“She obviously isn’t sorry and is still being weird about it, so not talking to her about anything personal is the appropriate and kind thing to do.”
“She set the standard – strictly business at work and you’re following the standards she set. NTA NTA.” ~ StealthyTooth
“NTA. While I’m against PDA at work and think you should knock it off, you don’t have to have lunch or build friendships with anyone you don’t want to do that with.”
“Keeping things strictly professional isn’t retaliation.” ~ LefthandedLemur
“NTA. You were on a lunch break, so your wife did nothing wrong by ‘groping’ you. If you did this when you’re on the clock, then my answer would be different.” ~ alexisbarclayalexei
“I’m sorry, WHAT? ‘Looking out for your best interests’?”
“Are you a child? Is she your mother? She’s clearly not your wife. NOPE.”
“NTA, and this is all horrifying. Olivia is infantilising and patronising you, and it is not her job to police your body.”
“Quite the opposite: she’s the one who is being wildly inappropriate.”
“She seems weirdly possessive given that she’s still arguing against your own wife being affectionate with you whilst being upset that you aren’t more personally affectionate with her (not in a physical sense, obviously, but being clearly agitated and upset that you won’t have an active, personal friendship with her, go for coffee, and do other things beyond the scope of a polite working colleague).”
“If this keeps up, I would honestly have a word with HR about your discomfort with Olivia’s continued interest in who touches you and how. Your body does not belong to her.” ~ Dangerous_Beans74
“NTA, dude. She didn’t ask you about it and went straight to HR to act like your saviour of sorts…she could be interested in you which would explain the sadness upon you not talking to her.”
“Anyway the pda you mentioned in your info is prolly okay and lighthearted so chill and don’t bother talking to your coworker unless it’s for work.” ~ jaffareddy707
A number of Redditors thought Olivia might have another motive.
“NTA – sounds like she has a thing for you and tried to get rid of her competition.” ~ rubberman5959
“Is this woman romantically interested in OP? Keep her at arm’s length.”
“What’s next? Is she going to accuse you of doing something inappropriate with her if you’re friendly?” ~ kek2015
“NTA, it sounds like Olivia has a crush on you. She tried to get your wife fired for touching you.” ~ KrissyCano
The OP returned with an update.
“Jamila’s case with HR was closed fully this past week. I’ve spoken to a supervisor and asked that Olivia no longer be my trainee and that she be placed with a female manager, as to avoid any further discomfort.”
“Olivia was in attendance for this call and pointed out that she was no longer invited to lunch/breaks and that she felt I was retaliating against her. Our supervisor did inform her that workplace retaliation doesn’t apply as breaks and lunches are not included in business operations and that these times are allowed to be as exclusive as employees see fit.”
“She asked to not be moved from my team and in the end the decision was left up to me, however I couldn’t see things getting better so I asked to move forward with having her be placed elsewhere.”
“I did take into consideration my fellow coworkers and apologized if I’ve made them uncomfortable. The overall consensus was that they never cared either way and were just upset that Olivia was upset as it was causing some discomfort for others.”
“Although Jamila and I have started leaving the office for breaks and have limited the touching.”
What exactly Olivia’s motives were, is only be known by her.
But it’s probably best for everyone that the OP and his wife distance themselves from her.