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my coworker is spreading a rumor that I’ve bulimia — Ask a Supervisor


A reader writes:

I really want some unbiased recommendation right here as I’m actually battling a state of affairs at my job however on the similar time love my place and don’t wish to depart.

I’ve been at my present job for simply over two years. Initially, I actually loved my job and my coworkers, however over the previous few months the workplace secretary, Marcia, has began to make a number of feedback concerning my look and what I eat. She has made feedback concerning attire I put on, claiming they aren’t work applicable ( regardless that they’re turtleneck, maxi, sweater attire), made feedback about how a lot I eat, feedback about how little I eat, and so forth.

These feedback had began to chip away at my morale, however the newest incident has me fully baffled.

We have been having an organization luncheon at which all of my colleagues have been current. Halfway by the lunch, I discover Marcia making odd appears to be like at my plate, motioning to her boss (the VP) to have a look at my plate, and such. Lastly, I requested her what she was taking a look at as I might genuinely really feel her stare from throughout the desk. She proceeded to inform me, in entrance of all of my colleagues and the VP (!) that I reminded her of a woman she knew with bulimia. I used to be so bowled over that I stood up, threw my meals out, and left.

A number of lower-level managers, together with my boss, requested me in regards to the incident and I responded that I used to be clearly offended and wouldn’t be attending any food-related work occasions. I did hear from my boss that when Marcia was spoken to (by him, not her boss) she stated the one purpose I used to be offended was as a result of I have to even have bulimia!

Quick ahead a couple of weeks, I’m lastly beginning to overlook in regards to the incident, and all of the sudden Marcia storms into my workplace, raises her voice at me, and tells me that I must cease discussing her feedback concerning my bulimia (!) and that individuals don’t like that I preserve bringing it up. An necessary reality to notice is that I’ve solely ever mentioned the incident when requested about it. Her boss, the VP, then came visiting to my workplace to state that whereas the best way she “apologized” was not acceptable, he actually must work tradition right here to stay good! From his assertion I form of bought the sensation he was telling me to cease speaking in regards to the subject as nicely.

A couple of weeks have handed and I’m actually having bother getting over this. Is there something I can do about to ensure Marcia doesn’t proceed spreading these hurtful rumors regardless that a number of weeks have handed because the preliminary incident? It appears the VP and the remainder of the workplace (minus my boss and instant coworker) have her again and are doing nothing to rectify the state of affairs. Moreover, I’ve misplaced all belief within the native management and am unsure transfer on from this. Notice, we do have a small HR staff however they aren’t native.

What’s up with Marcia?!

Except for being off-the-charts impolite and obnoxious, Marcia’s actions are additionally making a authorized legal responsibility to your firm. For those who really have been bulimic, Marcia could be making a hostile surroundings over a incapacity — and in reality, the regulation protects you even in the event you’re simply perceived as having a incapacity (no matter whether or not or not you really do). By trying to persuade individuals that you’ve got an consuming dysfunction, Marcia dangers triggering the People with Disabilities Act, and that would have important ramifications to your firm.

Two subsequent steps:

1. Return to your VP and say this: “I thought of our dialog and I’d like to put this to relaxation — however to do this, Marcia must cease commenting on my meals and clothes and spreading false rumors about my well being. Are you able to assist with that?”

2. I additionally counsel getting in contact with HR. It doesn’t matter that they’re not native; that is the kind of factor that any respectable HR division needs to be looped in on, and they’d wish to hear about it now, not after Marcia has handed you a authorized explanation for motion.

I’m additionally inquisitive about your different coworkers and whether or not you’ll be able to enlist any of them in shutting Marcia down in the event that they hear her speaking about you. Ideally you’d have a couple of — and even only one very assertive one — who will say issues like “that’s actually inappropriate” and “wow, why would you say one thing like that?” if she tries commenting in your meals or clothes once more.

Final, the place’s your boss in all this? If there was ever a time for a supervisor to advocate for somebody on her staff, it’s once they’re being harassed by a coworker and nobody else thinks it’s an enormous deal.

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