There is an expectation of a certain level of privacy in our day-to-day affairs.
We may be tracked and cataloged everywhere online, but our physical spaces still offer some protection from prying eyes.
The issue arises when that assumption is tested, and you discover that your privacy is easily invaded.
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) OnlyShoo when she came to the “Am I the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for my coworker’s daughter going through my purse and finding something inappropriate?”
OP began with a quick greeting before setting up the situation.
“So, long story short, I (F very early 20s) own a toy that looks like a lipstick.”
“I was headed somewhere after work where I would need this tool, so in my purse it went.”
“It was in a velvet pouch that was in a makeup bag that was inside a pocket that was on the inside of my zipped up, filled-to-the-brim purse.”
“I put the purse where purses go (pretty high area of locker-like compartments) and went about my day.”
“Mind you, the place where we leave personal belongings is outside my working area, and no personal belongings are allowed past that point.”
“We aren’t allowed to use locks per the boss’ request.”
“However, I got called to the front desk for my admin coworker wanted to return something of mine to me.”
“When I got there, she told me that her not-very-old daughter had gone through my purse and found my ‘lipstick’.”
“I stood there in disbelief and expecting an apology to follow her rant as she explained how her child had gone through my purse and through different pockets and mini purses to be able to find that.”
“She said she liked the shade and went to her mom to ask for something similar. Then my coworker figured out it wasn’t lipstick once she opened it and saw no pigment and a charging port.”
“She flipped out on me, saying how I shouldn’t bring that anywhere near my place of work, and I stood there, flabbergasted, and all I could say is ‘she went through my purse? why did you let your daughter go through someone else’s purse that was out of reach?'”
“I also told her I had not brought that anywhere near my workplace, as it was outside and tucked away.”
“I don’t think her daughter knows what it was, but it’s disturbing to me that she had to find a stool to climb onto the locker area, access my purse and then go through all of it till she found it.”
“I want to make it crystal clear how out of reach the thing was.”
“We didn’t come to any sort of agreement and kept blaming each other, so I apologized for her child having found it, as that was not my intention, and told her to keep her child out of my things or out of the personal belonging area entirely.”
“She told my boss about it (we have a very good work environment and boss is more a coworker than a boss) and boss adviced her to keep daughter out of that room since anything legal could be in it.”
“Clarifying that legal doesn’t mean daughter’s age appropriate (alcohol, cigarretes, lighters…)”
“Now my coworker is b*tching about it to whoever will listen.”
“(Again, don’t care, pretty good work atmosphere and we are all quite friendly and close, we talk about adult matters often after hours having a drink, and one of them was the one to recommend the adult toy to me haha).”
“Coworkers are staying out of it, although some of them have privately taken my side. However, the main coworker won’t let it go and is still butthurt.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
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: NTA
Some commenters were concerned about the situation itself.
“I would have asked for a break to inventory the contents of my purse to see if anything had been stolen.”
“After all, if she had enough time to go digging for the item she found, who knows what else she might have taken.”
“I would talk to the boss again in light of this episode to request a locked or at least actively monitored area for personal belongings to be kept.”
“In the meantime, I’d be looking for a bag or backpack that I could lock.” ~ virtualchoirboy
“I also find it highly unhygienic that a stranger (children are not usually known for their stellar hygiene) went through OP’s make-up, which she then has to use on her face.”
“I would not be happy, especially if there was expensive make-up in my bag. It’s waiting for an infection to happen.”
“Go to HR, tell them you want to be reimbursed for the make-up, tell them the sexual harassment by your coworker is making this job a hostile environment, and ask for a better secured/monitored area to store personal belongings.” ~ lottech
“Workers aren’t allowed to have their items with them, but workers’ children are allowed to hang out unsupervised in the bag room!”
“Unreal!” ~ eugenesnewdream
Others questioned the legality.
“This needs to be called out more.”
“This is illegal. It’s in your personal belongings, not accessible during work hours, and no different than searching your car.”
“You did not give consent to this search and, at bare minimum, should not be humiliated for it.”
“This is grounds for creating a hostile work environment, as that was likely her intention. 100% report her to HR or to your city/state board.” ~ kaekiro
“Nta and your coworker is basically sexually harassing you at this point by telling other people.” ~ Captainckidd
“This in spades.”
“Especially since she is at fault for having a kid where they did not belong and refused to take responsibility for the breach of your privacy”
“HR would love to hear about that, and frankly, the fact she is telling everyone about your personal property goes into harassment like others have mentioned” ~ ITsunayoshiI
“The laws very clear in the US about a search of personal belongings (brought into the office but sealed in your personal bag) being no different than your car, and the (old) Supreme Court ruled on this.”
“As for HR; if there’s a union head there first, if there’s a local board head there if you can, and as a last resort HR — because HR isn’t your friend “
“- It’s going to be looking out for the company before anyone else – and for some HR people, ‘the squeaky wheel gets fired, not fixed”. ‘ ~ BrookeBaranoff
Blame was also assigned.
“Your co-worker is a big one, though.”
“Why is her daughter roaming around your workplace unsupervised?”
“Why is she allowed to dig through purses?”
“Has anyone else noticed their things/money missing?”
“What kind of person thinks it’s ok to talk about another employee’s personal business? Why is any of this being allowed to continue?”
“Am I on crazy pills?”
“Here’s the thing: You are perfectly within your rights to walk around in public with a 10′ long, neon-green, silicone [sex toy] that sings The Star Spangled Banner.”
“Just put it in your purse, and off you go.”
“If anyone else finds that objectionable, they are free not to own one of those.”
“Here’s another thing:”
“If your workplace does not allow personal belongings in work areas, they are required to provide a secure space for you to store those items.”
“If that is a locker room, they are to allow people to use locks, or they are responsible for stolen items.” ~ Gorilla1969
OP did return for some closure.
“I’m out early today (yay!), and a few things have happened.”
“My boss did install locks for everyone and apologized for the inconvenience to me, offered to replace the cost of the item too since it had been going from hand to hand between mom and daughter.”
“My coworker was reprimanded, but they didn’t want to let her go because of her family situation.”
“They checked the cameras, and it was, in fact, the daughter that took it, but then she came back with the daughter to rummage through my purse and check my ID to see who to confront.”
“In the cameras, you can see the girl going through lots of purses but not taking anything from any purse, says my boss. I believe this is true because there were no other compensations to”
The assumption of privacy – or any assumption, really, is a dangerous game to play.
In this case, it led to an embarrassing interaction and raised some very interesting legal questions.
Be mindful of the assumptions you make.