Redditor OTFasian is in her twenties and one of the few people who returned to work at the office since she has no medical issues and family to take care of at home.
She is often alone with her boss who is in his 40s, which was not an issue until recently when he began exhibiting behavior that bordered on sexual harassment.
Not knowing how to resolve the issue without compromising her position at her job, she went to the Relationship Advice subReddit to ask strangers on the internet for guidance.
The Original Poster (OP) wrote:
“My boss’s erections in the office make me very uncomfortable and I don’t know how to notify him without jeopardizing my career.”
“I feel like I’m in a precarious position and my closest friends don’t have the experience to give me helpful recommendations, so I just want to float this interpersonal issue here and see what happens.”
“We have begun returning to the office, albeit very slowly. Our company is staggering the office time: half of the people can come back on certain days (if they want) and the other half on other days.”
“Those who have medical conditions or childcare/caregiver responsibilities that make it hard to return in person can continue to work from home.”
“Being young (20s) and single and without any medical issues, I don’t have any excuse to WFH. So I’m back in the office a couple days a week. The problem is, some people on my floor either have children at home or have immune issues, so they continue to WFH.”
“That leaves me and a high level partner (early 40s) alone a lot of times.”
“Normally this isn’t a problem, but he has been doing things that make it seem like he is gaslighting (?) harassing (?) me, and no one else is around to be my witness.”
“At random times during the day, he would walk into my office with an obvious erection under his pants. He would have work-related conversations with me, all the while standing at the door with his weiner at full mast but he pretends he doesn’t notice at all.”
“At first it was happening about once a week, but in the past couple weeks, he has been in the office exactly the same days as me and has been doing the full erection conversation every time.”
“He is either there everyday, or he is checking when I submit my online attestation about symptoms before going in.”
“I’m not comfortable telling him his boner is unwelcome, unprofessional, and maybe borderline sexual harassment because he is very senior. I also don’t want to go to HR or talk to co-workers about this in case it blows up in my face or I get accused of gossiping at work.”
“My closest friends that I can confide in are all around my age. While they are sympathetic, they don’t know how best to resolve this. I just wish more people would come back so I have witnesses or better yet deter him from walking around with a massive boner.”
“I really enjoy the work professionally and I do not want to look elsewhere/be forced out because of this. What’s the best way to resolve this problem?”
Redditors suggested various tactics involving recording devices for evidence.
“Put a webcam on your office PC and every time you boss comes in like that, say something like, ‘Oh hey, I was just facetiming Eduardo. Look Eduardo, Boss-Guy is here.'”
“Then leave the camera pointed at Boss-Guy for a good long time. Really, Eduardo barely has to be in on the gag. What you really want is a time-date stamped video of Boss-Boner and you can use a program like YAWCAM to get it.”
“If he doesn’t get the point that his activity is being documented, then just leave the webcam pointed at the door and get a history of every time he shows up so people might be able to see later that he shows up with a boner way more than biological chance would have it.”
“Check local laws and work related rules, you may have to turn sound recording off as that might be treated differently by the laws.” – cobright
“You’re honestly not being any more confrontational than he is with his boner.”
“If he comments just say innocently ‘Oh I just PREFER this angle, Ive been having some problems with my eyes lately and it helps me see whats going on clearly.'”
“He KNOWS what he is doing. Knowing you are being proactive is the only way to get him to back down.” – NoHandBananaNo
“You could probably use your phone instead. Either have it propped up somewhere you can easily hit record at any time (smartwatch with that functionality would be handy), or just pretend to be taking voice notes and point it straight at him.”
“Not that you should feel obliged to put yourself in this position. You can just stay at home. But if you can hold him to account, and feel able to, that would be good.” – D-Juice
“There is no friend, just buy a separate attachable webcam, say there is one, and flip the cam around. Have headphones in so he doesn’t wonder why he can’t hear them. You get the recording then.” – sledge211
Ditching stealth recording tactics and going straight to HR instead was strongly recommended, but even that was challenged.
“This is a convoluted idea. And unapproved hidden cameras, even if not illegal in your state, may be against company policy.”
“Your best bet is to go right to HR. Ask to be allowed to continue to wfh while they investigate.” – Kaboom0022
“If they have no solid proof to investigate it’ll go nowhere. Which brings us back to the recording.” – Sharp-Mood-2127
“And now she gets fired for secretly video recording a coworker on private property. MOST accusations have no ‘evidence.’ They still get investigated.” – Kaboom0022
“It might feel like an aggressive act on your part, but taking a photo of him with your phone when he comes in will give you proof to share with hr and also possibly put him off repeating the behaviour.”
“If he asks you what you’re doing just shrug and ask him what he’s talking about. If gaslightings good for him, then it’s good for you too.” – AKneelingOx
“Make sure shutter sound and flash are off though. I worry this puts her in physical jeopardy though since it happens when they are alone in the office.” – ID9ITAL
“A webcam recording video would be ideal, noone pays attention to where it’s pointed unless very obviously done so (like on a tripod in the middle of a room) .”
“And if he comments about it, you have the webcam for zoom meetings.” – Snoo_28055
“Go to HR to tomorrow. Retaliation for reporting sexual harassment is illegal as sh*t. You can sue the f’k out of them if they retaliate against you!”
“I doubt they’d try as companies know this and they have hr departments to prevent this. If you really don’t trust the company, talk to an attorney first.” – tbonephillips
“You can approach HR without an accusation- just say he is walking in with clearly visible erections.”
“You can make it sound like you are not sure if he knows and that you would like someone to make him aware so he does not continue to embarrass himself.” – coolforcatsmp3
The OP responded:
“That’s a great idea! Thank you! I can have a conversation with HR confidentially, and say that I heard some people have seen him walk around with erections (and I have noticed it myself).”
“I am worried people might take offense if he is unaware or has developed a condition. The only problem is, if HR talks to him, he might know I brought it up if he has been intentionally doing it to me. And he might retaliate. hmmm”
“Part of me also doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing what he is doing really bugs me. I don’t know, sounds petty but I feel like I “lose” if he knows I’m upset.”
Redditors remained concerned for the OP and continued encouraging her to contact HR so that the next female employee wouldn’t have to.