FEEDBACK Regarding the female pharmacist concerned about a male physician’s persistent touching and suggestive comments (July 28):
Reader #1 – “I’m a male surgeon. That's a horrid situation of harassment. The pharmacist should immediately report this.
“While there’s sometimes a culture of “specialized” comments in hospitals, it’s often mutual and built up after years of trust in a close-knit team.
“The medical staff are responsible to the chief of staff for conduct.
“This is because hospital Human Resources (HR) usually cannot “fire” nor discipline physicians.
“Any member of the public can complain to the College of Physicians about behaviour.”
Reader #2 – “This is a typical one-sided story from a "completely innocent" person being abused by her/his superior.
“While I don’t support the doctor’s behaviour, I think this just didn't happen overnight.
“The doctor did step over the line.
“But the woman didn't include other details – e.g. if she had any personal gains while allowing the Doctor to progress with his inappropriate behaviour.
“Did the doctor help her to get a promotion, a better-paid job? Does she now have more fun and/or more freedom, and less workload?
“Does he cover for her when she’s not working but was supposed to work?
“Does he take her out for lunches, buy her presents, take her on business trips?
“Did she like his attention, or flirting with the doctor?
“Why didn't she say anything initially?
“She could’ve politely declined his advances and been clear that she’s not interested. She didn't do that.
“I work for a huge organization. Annually, we’re required to complete a module about "Respect at the Workplace."
“It states that there’s nothing wrong with asking someone to go out (ONCE only), regardless of their marital status.
“I think she played a big role in letting him cross the line and she has to take responsibility for that.
“However, if she tells him that she doesn't want to continue with this relationship, there’s a chance that she’ll lose some or all of the perks.
“So it seems best (Ellie: presumably the writer is being sarcastic here) for Ms. Touched Too Much to be selfish, report him, and let him lose his job.
“Instead, she should’ve been "Touched once and never again" or "Never touched in the First Place."
Ellie – As has happened too often with workplace harassment complaints from either men or women, the pharmacist who tried (albeit misguidedly) not to cause trouble, is presumed to have enjoyed the harassment, and/or stayed with it for personal gain.
While we can’t interrogate her (as Reader #2 would prefer), she wrote that she’s 34, happily married, and would never cheat.
She said she didn’t want to make a scene despite discomfort when the doctor pushed his body against her, so tried to ignore him.
She asked me if he was “harmlessly flirting” as she had “no experience with dating and flirting in the adult workplace.”
She said she’s “never shown signs” of being interested.
She was clearly worried that the doctor would take this behaviour further.
I stand by my response to her: “If he tries anything further, say calmly and firmly, ‘This is inappropriate,’ and get your report to hospital officials immediately.” They can then investigate, not make assumptions.
To all readers: Get acquainted with the laws on workplace harassment in your jurisdiction. Keep a diary of incidents, report abuse to HR, and if necessary, take it to higher responsible authorities.
On July 30th, you wrote: “A single woman friend shouldn’t contact your husband to meet, without your knowledge.”
But what if it’s a married friend contacting your husband or your ex-husband?
An ex-husband is no longer “yours.” That said, the good-girlfriend rule still has some bearing – a married friend should not pursue your ex.
However, people meet up, get attracted, or have a common interest. A good friend would let you know as soon as possible, and be sensitive to your relationship with him, e.g. respecting parenting arrangements, and not taking his side against you. The fact that she’s married is between them.
But your husband IS a different matter. Your married friends should not become best buddies with your guy, without you being included and in the loop re: correspondence.
No private email contact, no going out together without you being invited…. except for, say, a course/meeting, and you aware of it.
Tip of the day:
Men and women alike need to know their rights regarding workplace abuse/harassment and demonstrate their own zero tolerance.