By: Morgan Brooks
This year on my birthday I went to work because I adore my job and I wanted to celebrate with my coworkers. I walked into my office and was surprised with confetti and decorations all over my desk. It was so kind of them to all go through such an effort to make their intern feel so loved.
At my company, we work with a lot of products and frequently have vendors coming into the office to show us their latest collections. On this day we had a senior male vendor come into the office who is notorious for his inappropriate behavior throughout the years and has been spoken to several times regarding it. However, he gives our company good business and has worked with many on our sales team for decades.
Then the vendor walked into our department, he exclaimed, “Happy Birthday! How old are you turnin’?”. To which I replied, “Thank you, and 21 sir”. “Well, Morgan we are gonna need to put you in the spank-train! Ahhhh we used to do that all the time, line all the employees up and send the birthday girl through all our legs and spank them!” The room went silent. In horror, I uttered, “Nope” and quickly turned back to my emails. He continued describing this bizarre scenario to my coworkers, my cheeks becoming more and more flushed as literally, my MGMT-3610 sexual harassment lecture replayed in my head. My professor so clearly stating, “A hostile working environment occurs when someone’s behavior in the workplace creates an environment that makes it difficult for someone of a particular sex to work”. He walked out of the room and my department was left in awe. I went home conflicted about whether or not I should report the hostile situation as an intern with very little pull at the company. I decided to record as much as I could about the situation down in my notes and luckily when I came back to work the next day, I had found out that another coworker had already reported the situation to HR. I felt better knowing that one of my senior coworkers felt comfortable enough to stand up for me. However, I was thankful that I took the notes that I had about the situation because HR was then able to use those in their more formal report. It was not the first time I had been harassed in the workplace and I know it won’t be the last. However, being informed about what to do in such situations is key to further preventing a hostile work environment.