If one of my coworkers touched me inappropriately at work, what course of action can I take to keep this from happening again?

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If one of my coworkers touched me inappropriately at work, what course of action can I take to keep this from happening again?

I am a male PRN med-tech andat my place of work the male employees tend to joke with each other; on occasion we will change each other’s desktop background to silly images when we leave our computers logged in and we are not around. Yesterday, one of the male EMTs apparently took this as an invitation to lean over me while I was filling insulin needles and kiss me on the cheek and stick his tongue in my ear. I was angry enough that I wanted to hit him, storm out, or both. I immediately got up, left the room, and talked privately to one of the managers. She said she would talk to him – his response to me later that day was, “If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.” I have never touched him, ever, so I do not see how this is a tit for tat exchange. I don’t want to go to work if he is around because he has an intimidating personality and I flat out do not feel comfortable around him. My job went from being mildly stressful to intensely stressful over this single event. Do I have any course of action that can take to make sure this kind of violation doesn’t happen again? I just do not feel comfortable or safe around him anymore.

Asked on June 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your first step is to read the section in your employee handbook regarding sexual harrassment and hostile work environment.  Hospitals usually have some type of complait procedure in these handbooks.  Even if it's not especially fruitful, you need to follow these procedures.  The next step is to talk to your HR department.  Usually they are the receivers of these types of complaints.   Let them know how you are feeling, why, and his reaction to your complaint.  They should take affirmative steps to resolve the situation.  It seems a "good talking to" is not going to change his behavior.  If following your internal procedures does not work, then you can follow-up with a complaint to the EEOC or Texas Human Rights Commission.  Many people get poured out at this level because they did not follow the internal or administrative procedures that were available at the employer level. That's why it's important to know and follow the employee handbook procedures first, even when the employer isn't taking them seriously.


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