Ask Amy: Co-worker worries working with accused harasser
Dear Amy: I really like my job, my boss, and my immediate coworkers.
Recently though, I've been assigned to work on a project managed by “Bob” — a man who's been accused of sexual harassment multiple times.
The company recently lost a lawsuit because of his actions, and while the company policy is not to disclose punishments, presumably Bob faced some.
Bob has behaved professionally toward me, but knowing some of the accusers, seeing the texts he sent, and hearing their stories, I have no respect for him!
I'm having trouble maintaining my professionalism under his management.
My instinct is to disregard his instructions and throw him under the bus for every minor setback.
Obviously, that doesn't bode well for the project.
The fact that this man is still a manager horrifies me, regardless of any punishment he may have received.
I've considered quitting in protest, but I'd be replaced within hours — if the company even noticed I was gone.
I also genuinely believe that my work is making a positive difference.
The likelihood of me getting a comparable job is also slim.
On the one hand, working with him is temporary, and I don't want one project to derail my career, particularly when I'm otherwise happy.
On the other hand, he recently hired two women who seem just his type.
How do I survive working with him and warn his new hires, without getting myself in trouble?
– Between a Rock and a Barred Case
Dear Between: You should take any specific questions and concerns regarding your experience to your boss, and/or to HR at your company. Ask if these new hires have been notified about previous accusations against “Bob.”
You need to tread carefully and understand that the way to “win” at this is to always behave professionally at all times.
You don’t seem to know the particulars – or even the vague outlines — of this lawsuit, and it immediately occurs to me that there is a remote possibility that your colleague Bob remains at the company because he won the lawsuit you are referring to.
And, even if you know he is guilty, if you follow your instincts and actually manage to throw Bob under the bus — and yet still remain at the job you love (despite the fact that he has proven himself to be quite the survivor), then you would win the Machiavelli award for employee excellence.
(In short, I don’t recommend that you behave this way.)
If Bob sexually harassed you, then it would be ethical to warn these new hires, unless you signed a legal document prohibiting you from discussing it with anyone. (Never sign an NDA without your own legal representation.)
As things are, make sure these new hires understand that they have an amiable ally and a supportive colleague in you.
Dear Amy: I am a 33-year-old woman and have been with my partner for 10 years.
Neither of us wants children. We do have a senior dog that we love very much. Despite sharing this with my partner’s mother multiple times, she never fails to make snide comments when I see her.
A favorite is: "This dog is the closest to grandkids that I'll ever get.”
My partner has told her to knock it off. He also has two sisters, neither of which are coupled or plan to have children.
I think his mother sees me as her only hope for grandchildren.
I'm tired of her commentary on what I view as a fundamental life choice that is really no one’s business, except my partner’s and my own.
I believe people can live long and fulfilling lives with or without children.
How do I make her stop her snide comments?
Recently, and much to my dismay, she has taken to saying them when my partner is out of earshot.
– Childless Punching Bag
Dear Childless: If you and your partner can’t seem to stop his mother, perhaps you should lean in.
She makes her dog comment, and you smile and reply: “That’s right! So say hi to your ‘grand-pup.’ He’s a very good boy and loves ear scritches.”
Dear Amy: Thank you for mentioning in your column that it is long past time for us to retire the phrase “maiden name” regarding a woman’s birth surname.
It’s been a long time since I’ve known any “maidens.”
– A Fan
Dear Fan: Use of the word “maiden” to describe a woman’s identity before marriage might seem charmingly “vintage,” but I say it’s long-past time to retire it.
©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.