This post is about a simple rule of thumb: If you are in the workplace, especially if you are in a position of authority – KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF!
There are some offices that are considered ‘touchy’, meaning that tactile actions are acceptable. However, there are some action that are never okay.
1. Keep the playing with long hair out of the workplace. Unless you’re working at a salon, in fashion, or another acceptable location, your hands should not touch anyone else’s hair – especially in a sexual/sensual manner. If you are friends with the person outside of work, then keep that sort of touch outside of work. As said in Dirty Dancing, “This is my dance space, that is your dance space.” Respect the bubble of personal space. It will be appreciated.
During one of my past jobs, I had about 12 different managers. One enjoyed coming behind up and playing with my long hair. I hated it. I told him to stop, but he didn’t see it as a problem because it wasn’t ‘sexual touch’. I told HR, who told me that he was a valued member of the team and since it wasn’t sexual touch there wasn’t really a problem. They were incorrect. Sadly, I didn’t learn that until later.
2. If you assault an employee, expect to be floored – literally. Sexual harassment is not acceptable in the workplace. Neither is sexual assault. Sometimes, the recipient may respond quietly – until they report the incident to HR. Hopefully, their HR department will be more helpful (and law abiding) than mine was in example 1. But, other times, the person will respond with hostility. This was how I responded:
I was working the prerequisite embarrassing college job. The only people older than I was were the manager and the assistant manager. I had been informed that there was a technical issue and went into the teeny little tech-box to fix it. The assistant manager followed me in and proceeded to push me against the wall and make a lewd suggestion.
I then proceeded to drop him to the floor and made sure to hit him with the door on my way out. I complained to the manager, who transferred him to another store. This always annoyed me because this allowed him to continue to prey on girls who may not have been as well equipped to handle themselves as I was.