Where I used to work, at a place that shall remain nameless, there was an interesting and, for me, significant case of sexual harassment. One of our departments employed a fellow from a different country – slightly different standards there. Aside and apart from that, he had psychological problems, paranoia combined with delusions of importance and what have you. He was under the impression that women were interested in him When they were were not in the least interested. He couldn't believe that they were not completely taken in by his charms.
He was a tall fellow with a fair bit of weight on him but he was not unfit. He played racquetball and what have you. He could bounce around with a fair degree of agility, I was told, so he was a bit of a threat. He would lie in wait for student interns. These were young people who would come in on contract, as trainees. It was a work experience thing.
Often these student interns would work late because there were special tasks they were doing. Our villain would wait until just about everyone had left the office and he would 'visit' these girls and hang about. He was a large man. It was threatening. The girls complained to management but management, in the style of management everywhere, thought the way to solve a problem was to sweep it under the carpet. So, they didn't move this guy to another area or anything. He still hung about and the girls had no defense.
Fortunately, very fortunately, he became entranced with a girl who worked down near the Executive Director's office. She was in her office cubicle working one time during regular hours. The Executive Director's secretary was working in her office nearby. Apparently she had complained that he was harassing her previously. Our villian discovered this and meant to give her a piece of his mind.
The big guy leaned over her desk. He frightened her a lot and she screamed. That was the scream that pretty much ended it all. That was the end, not of legal stuff, but of his being on the ground there and being able to get away with harassment. He had gone one step too far.
He came back once after he was booted out. He went all around the office and harangued people and made a general fuss and threat of himself. I was concerned for Annalee, who worked in his area. He had it in for her. She was an older lady. I was younger then, and pretty feisty,
Because I had sensed trouble brewing I had brought into the office, concealed, a pair of suitably modified plastic nunchaku or nunchucks, a martial arts weapon. I was going after him when he invaded the office for his last shout. I knew he was in Annalee's area.
One of the officers in my section was running interference on me. He should have been a football player. He was good at it. He was going from one side of the aisle to the other as I was trying to march towards the source of the trouble, all the time saying “I wouldn't do that if I were you, Sonia!” The trouble died down. Annalee was unharmed and I didn't get the try out my amateur martial arts skills or lack of same.
Management, in the style of management everywhere, overreacted after the fact and posted security guards at all the entrances. They would not let him in again. Problem was that they hadn't given him fair trial, as it were. He brought a case through the Union and it dragged on and on and on, for years. He accused any and everybody of being against him and tried to pull them into this case because he was so important. I probably should mention that, although he was deluded, he was not dumb.
In his eyes he was right and he knew it. He was totally justified and they were all prejudiced against him. This went on, unbelievably for years before it was finally settled, in the highest court of appeal there was. He had no case whatsoever but the Department had been wrong to terminate his services. He was put in with a group, engineers or something, that were ALL guys. Even the secretary, although gay was a guy. They must have figured that would pretty well stem the tide right there.
As far as I know he is still working for the Department in the masculine enclave. Some things confound the mind. I don't know how this thing got so out of hand. Part of it was his delusions of his own importance and grandeur and his attractiveness to the female sex and so forth. The rest of it was management just ignoring it, just ignoring it until it was too late, then they overreacted. Thus, when one girl's complaint was finally acknowledged and he was told not to bother her, it started a chain reaction.
I've got a feeling that this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened in an office. I think this sort of thing can happen anywhere.
© Sonia Brock 2007