A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
When Do Insults Become Harassment?
Dear Sue: I am pregnant and have just found out I am considered
high risk, and that there is a good chance I will deliver by cesarean. I
shared this with one of the partners of the firm I work for and told him
that the recovery may be longer with a cesarean and that I may need
additional time off. His response was so offensive to me that I am having
a hard time putting it past me.
He said, "Oh suck it up, how hard can it be? My wife had three of them;
besides you can schedule when you go in." He may have been joking and
trying to make light of the situation, but I felt his comment was
discriminatory, and it is not the first comment of that kind uttered by
him. What constitutes discriminatory comments, and what should I do?
Sue Says: Comments that denigrate a person based on one's sex
are considered to be harassment. The best way to handle what you perceive
to be a discriminatory situation in the workplace is to confront it
directly, according to Portland attorney Peter Bennett. If you can, he
suggests you complain about the situation to your immediate supervisor.
If such a complaint is not appropriate -- either because your
supervisor is the problem or because you would be uncomfortable -- then
you should complain to the human resources department or officer in your
company. Cooperate with any investigation these people conduct.
Be prepared to share what you expect from a resolution of your
complaint. If you are not satisfied with the result, appeal the decision
to the next level of management. It is illegal for your employer to
retaliate against you for a complaint made in good faith.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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