A 29-year-old female employee has found herself in hot water at work over a comment made to another employee. User u/wolfeye1985 has asked the r/AmItheA****** subreddit if she is an a****** “for using a joke about sexuality to imply my co-workers ‘boundary’ with her boyfriend is stupid?”
She updated the post to reveal that she has been called in for an HR meeting.
A 2021 study by engagement platform Ten Spot found that 70 percent of all workers and 86 percent of Gen-Z say they have experienced bullying or prejudice at work.
The original poster (OP), who describes herself as bisexual and “femme and straight,” explains that she has only recently got to know her fellow employees because of restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She explains how a co-worker was talking about a ‘girls trip’ she was planning, to which the OP replied by talking about her plans to go away with a male friend.
“She immediately raised her eyebrows and said, ‘wow that’s wild that your boyfriend would let you go on a trip alone with another guy,’” the OP wrote. “The colleague then revealed that she and her boyfriend don’t allow each other to be friends with the opposite sex, and it means ‘they have a deeper level of trust.’”
The OP wrote that she responded by saying: “‘Huh I wouldn’t understand—that would be tough for my girlfriend and I since we are bisexual. I guess we wouldn’t be able to have any friends at all,’ I said it in a teasing tone and laughed.”
The OP describes how her colleague then “started to look more angry than embarrassed” and said, “to be honest, I don’t really think the workplace is somewhere to be discussing sexuality at all.”
The OP explains that she feels conflicted about the disagreement.
“On the one hand, I don’t think I’m the a****** at all, and that it’s her fault for assuming my sexuality in the first place and that she was telling me about her relationship which means it was perfectly acceptable for me to talk about mine.
“On the other hand, my girlfriend said I was out of line to make that joke and I clearly embarrassed her and she was just being defensive—as anyone would if they felt their relationship was attacked.”
Newsweek spoke about the awkward interaction with Amanda Rue, consent expert and founder of The Shift Work Shop, a human resource consultancy offering sexual harassment prevention and anti-sexist training.
“As we are rebuilding our relationships with in-person workplaces it’s vital that we remember our best practices for connecting with co-workers in the office,” she says. “We know friendship can strengthen employee morale, but it’s important to remember that we can easily cross lines of comfortability in an attempt to form these relationships.
“For the most part, conversations around private relationships, including sharing judgments around other’s relationships should be kept out of the office. We are there to focus on the work at hand and can find other shared interests and conversation points that exclude our personal approach to sex and relationships.
“It’s important to note that sexual harassment, including hostile workplace, is based on the complainants perspective and you may not know what could make somebody feel uncomfortable regarding [their] private lives. It’s best to have consent to engage in this conversation, first and foremost, to ensure all parties are comfortable regarding the conversation, but best case is to change the topic and refrain from sexualized conversations in the workplace.”
Reddit users backed the OP.
NidorinoBeano said: “She already disclosed her sexuality to you by talking about her BF and you’re right, her boundary is stupid, it’s not a deeper level of trust it’s a lack of trust they have.”
User Revolutionary-Heat10 wrote: “She was the first one to judge your relationship by saying that it was wild that your bf would let you go on a trip with another man. So she can judge but you cannot?”
Right_unreasonable commented: “‘I trust you so much that you can never be alone with a woman. Except your mother. Because I TRUST you’—OP’s co-worker.”
Newsweek has reached out to u/wolfeye1985 for comment.
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