I work at a small business where I am the only female employee. All the guys I work with are great, except one. He is considerably older than the rest of us (I am in my twenties, the other guys are in their thirties), less educated, and much more conservative. While he is good at his job (which requires little contact with the public), and I fully understand why he is still employed there, I find him extremely offensive and irritating.
He trash talks the other employees when they aren’t around, makes racist comments, goes on long tirades about “the liberals”, talks about how superior he and his family are, and generally passes judgment on every topic brought up in conversation. On top of this, he gets angry and confused when the workplace conversation steers toward a topic he is not familiar with and interrupts and talks loudly over whomever is speaking. It is clear he has no regard for anyone but himself, but up until now it was more irritating than harassing. I’ve even been able to look past the fact that he constantly refers to me as “the receptionist,” even though that is not remotely close to my job description, but rather because I am the only woman in the office. However, when I recently found him at my desk inspecting my lunch, and he spent 15 minutes telling me about how fat (exact words) I am going to become “eating like that,” I lost it. I can’t deal with his often hour long rants on topics no one in the office wants to hear about (like how “nobody would be in poverty if they just worked harder” and how there are no hungry children in America).
My coworkers are open-minded, women-respecting, non-judgmental men. It seems they put up with his behavior because he is good at his job and the comments he makes are rarely directed at them personally. I don’t want to report him to my boss because I don’t want to be the over-emotional woman who can’t handle him by “letting it bounce off” like they do. I’m still relatively new there and don’t want to alienate myself from them. Instead, I want to know what I can say to my coworker directly to make it known that I do not want to have these unsolicited one-sided conversations with him. Feigning disinterest (looking at my computer/work while he speaks, going into another room) is not working. I’ve also tried acting offended, but that just prompts him to say he is “only joking,” when it is obvious he is not. — Lone Lady
Do not try to reason with this person. It will only make things worse. He obviously has zero respect for you and won’t thoughtfully consider anything you have to say anyway. And don’t report this guy to your boss. Report him to your HR department. Immediately. Tell your HR rep exactly what you’ve said here. If your office doesn’t have an HR department, then go to this man’s boss. Write down everything that has been said or done to you personally in a derogatory fashion. Keep a file of these issues, with as many times and dates as you can recollect. Sexual harassment and discrimination in the work place is illegal, so the more proof or record you have of your co-worker’s (or anyone else’s) discriminatory behavior — and this goes for anyone who might treat you like an “over-emotional woman” for reporting your scumbag co-worker — the better. Keep fighting. There is no reason to put up with this kind of shit in your work place. Dealing with an overbearing boss? Fine. Experiencing work-related stress and anxiety? It happens. Sitting through boring meetings? Par for the course in many offices, sadly. What you do not need to accept is sexism or racism in the work place (or attacks against your political or religious views, for that matter). This is 2011, for Christ’s sake. Woman up and take this man down.