I was away from work for a month with the reserve. When I returned to work things were very different, they had changed my job. A sexual harassment issue between a female coworker and myself came into the picture even though there was never any hint of this before. I was told that this coworker had given the supervisor a heads-up that I had said something that made her uncomfortable, but that there was no complaint (I was never told what I allegedly said). I was in shock about this. I was terminated a few days later for contacting the employee that had made the non-complaint even though I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to.
Rita Risser Chai replies:
Most employees are “at will,” meaning that you can be fired for any reason, or no reason. There are exceptions if you are a union or government employee, or if your company has a policy that requires them to investigate (that is, hear your side) or give you warnings before termination. The fact that there was no complaint is irrelevant. Companies need to take seriously any information they receive about behavior that potentially violates their harassment policy. It is normal for you to want to know what you said, and for you to want to ask her about it. At the same time, you need to realize that if she felt uncomfortable enough to report you, and the company felt it serious enough to change your job, then your approaching her would make her even more uncomfortable and could even be seen as threatening. Your best bet at this point may be to read everything you can on sexual harassment from a woman’s point of view in order to learn more about how you may be perceived, so you don’t make other women feel uncomfortable in the future. Good luck.
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