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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12620
Experience:  Licensed attorney
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Hello. I am a male employee..two of my co workers, one male,

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Hello. I am a male employee..two of my co workers, one male, one female are "messing" around with each other and engaging in a lot of sexual "horseplay" in area I work and the lunch room we share.

For example while work in on the line the female co worker used a sanitation tool held it like it was a penis and pretended to rub the male workers genitals...during lunch the two will make suggestive comments to one another and grope each other.

This is all completely consensual between the two of them...however I am extremely upset and annoyed by their unprofessional behavior and have asked them to cease several times and make it clear I find their behavior unacceptable...but they tell me to mind my own business and carry on.

What should I do next? I find their behavior disruptive but since what they are doing is consensual between the two of them the supervisors don't seem to see a reason to act..

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Customer:

Hello

Brandon M. :

Hello, thank you for your question.

Brandon M. :

In which state is this occurring?

Customer:

Oregon

Brandon M. :

I have to speak a bit generally because I'm not there to see what is happening in your case or to hear what is said or how it is said. Because the nuances of every case are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with counsel. But that said, sexual harassment does not have to be directed as someone in order for it to create a hostile work environment. It would be like two white people holding a conversation in a cubicle next to a black person (and within ear-shot), all the while using racial slurs and derogatory statements about blacks. If the black employee complained, it would clearly be no defense to for the white employees to say "the conversation wasn't directed at you".

Brandon M. :

And that may be a comparison that would allow your chain of command to better understand your position. But basically, sexual harassment doesn't have to be focused specifically toward the victim.

Customer:

I see....and it makes no diffrence that I am Male?

Brandon M. :

None whatsoever.

Customer:

Thank you..i understand now

Brandon M. :

I'll reiterate that I'm not in a position to assess whether there is a legal cause of action in your specific case. For example, the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious.

Brandon M. :

But how to approach a situation of sexual harassment is up to the victim. It can be reported to the EEOC, but where it may just be a simple matter of ignorance on the part of the employer, educating the employer is oftentimes the solution.

Brandon M. :

I can tell you that if a report is made to the EEOC, it is illegal to retaliate against the employee regardless of whether the complaint has merit. You might be amazed at how many times an initial complaint to the EEOC is found to be without merit, but the employer later files a successful complaint based on retaliation for the first complaint.

Customer:

I am not looking to sue...just get them to stop...I should just go straight to HR then?

Brandon M. :

You know your employer best, XXXXX XXXXX you think is right. I know the law, but you know the facts.

Brandon M. :

Does that make sense?

Customer:

Yes

Brandon M. :

Good. I hope that this was helpful.

Brandon M. :

Incidentally, in Oregon, complaints can also be made to the state Civil Rights Division.

Customer:

Just wanted to know I wouldnt be making a fool of myself to HR by claiming to be sexually harassed by a female employee

Customer:

thanks

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