I'm a 20 year old female, who recently started an internship. We work in an open office environment.

One of the permanent employees, "Bob", who is about 40 to 50 years old, behaved inappropriately towards me. He and his friend made occasional sexual jokes, which I ignored. He called me by a nickname, despite telling him not to call me by that name. He asked me to go out with him.

I decided to go to my boss, who in turn escalated it to another manager. That manager's solution was moving my work location, but in the same room. Even my boss didn't seem pleased with this idea, but I said it was okay since I didn't want to make any trouble. So now I've had to move and people ask me why I have been moved.

I also hear "Bob" has been asked not to talk to me any more. I find this situation very unpleasant. I just wanted to improve my programming skills and get a good reference. I didn't want to bother anyone or cause problems.

I am not from this country. I speak the language, but I am not exactly fluent in it, and especially struggle with colloquial expressions.

How should I handle this situation going forward? How should I respond to questions about why I was moved?

  • 3
    Sexual harassment as defined in the US and as defined in most European countries are very, very different beasts. What you described is not what Europeans would call sexual harassment, and calling it out as such amounts to libel/slander in certain jurisdiction if stated as a fact to HR.
    – pmf
    Nov 2, 2017 at 12:29
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    I would not necessarily call it sexual harassment. This question was edited multiple times by different people. It was a disturbance to me and I consider it highly inappropriate. But yes, I would also like to know whether I'm exaggerating this. So thanks for that information.
    – Olivia
    Nov 2, 2017 at 13:52
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    "making sexual jokes directed at a woman" The OP does not state that they were directed at her; inappropriate and unprofessional if the coworkers do it among themselves; harassment, absolutely not. "calling her nicknames that make her uncomfortable" - not sexual harassment, correct. You cannot redefine stuff how you like it.
    – pmf
    Nov 2, 2017 at 14:23
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    Yes, the jokes were directed towards me. Despite disliking them, I didn't criticize them since I didn't want to be seen as rude and unfriendly as no one else seemed to mind. Not criticizing the jokes is a mistake on my part.
    – Olivia
    Nov 2, 2017 at 14:45
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    Off-topic: why would people edit my question to remove all the details that are actually important to the story, especially considering that the lack of details createdo confusion?
    – Olivia
    Nov 2, 2017 at 14:47

4 Answers 4


You mention cultural differences, but don't mention the work country. That said, it sounds like it's not a cultural issue, instead this guy is behaving in a wholly inappropriate manner in any developed country that I've been to. And actually, his age shouldn't matter either. Even a peer should not treat you the way he is. You should not stand for it at all.

Standing up for yourself is definitely warranted, and you should not take previous inaction as a mistake on your part. If you don't find something appropriate, ask him to stop (regardless of what it is). If he doesn't, take it up with management (as you have) or Human Resources (which you may have already).

If they don't take care of it, your recourse depends a bit on where the work is. In most US locations, there are public options such as the Equal Opportunity Commission. There's a pretty good article about the topic on Business Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-to-do-when-hr-ignores-your-complaints-2017-2).

But 100%, do not put up with it and don't assume it's your fault. It isn't.


First of: You did not bother anyone or cause problems, Bob did.

The answer should be:

"Mr. [Name of the Manager deciding] thinks it is better that I sit here". If you are asked why, you should just say: "You have to ask him.".


How should I handle this situation going forward?

Focus on your work and career objectives, never mind the distractions. You mentioned that you wanted to improve your programming skills and get a good reference letter- that's a place to start. I know it's easier said than done given the environment and social situation, but if there ever was a time to put mind over matter, it is now.

There are other people at this office, focus on keeping good relations (professional, and social if you want/choose) with them. It's not necessary to make friends at the workplace, but it doesn't hurt if you do.

How should I respond to questions about why I was moved?

I would make a casual comment along the lines of "It just happened" and shrug it off.

I would avoid telling someone the real reason unless they become a trusted confidant because then it might seem to your manager that you are still escalating the situation by saying things about Bob even after the manager took actions to resolve it.

Was there a better way to solve this?

It depends on the workplace. If Bob has been a trusted worker for many years, then management is not going to fire Bob on the statements on an intern. Even so, look at Uber- management that was behaving badly was not let go till the situation became a media circus.

Don't worry about this company's culture too much since you're not here permanently. It's hard to find out about a company's reaction to such situations before you're there and it happens (unless you're Uber or similar), but you can always interview others who used to work there.

Should I be satisfied with the current solution?

This depends on you, no one can tell you one way or the other.

What can I do in the future to prevent it to ever come near this situation?

You cannot control other people's behaviors and actions- if someone is going to behave inappropriately, that's not your fault or responsibility to control.

If something like this happens again, you can do what you did now- tell your boss or manager (assuming you have already told the person making unwelcome advances to stop). The rest depends on the company, and if you're not satisfied with their reactions, go somewhere else.

Before making any kind of decision it's always good to measure out the consequences of your actions in the bigger picture.

  • 3
    As to whether to be satisfied with the solution, it entirely depends on Bob. If he stops asking you out and making you uncomfortable, then let it go.
    – HLGEM
    Nov 1, 2017 at 17:17
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    @HLGEM Personally, I think Bob should've been the one to be moved since he was the one causing problems, but I understand this was probably the path of least resistance. Nov 1, 2017 at 23:35
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    @AffableAmbler, I too think he should have been moved. However it was the company's decision to make and they made it. There may be reasons why. Although honestly, my work experience and knowledge of human nature show me that it is far more common to blame the victim and make sure that is the person who is inconvenienced or worse. Now the OP must deal with the fallout because that decision is not going to change.
    – HLGEM
    Nov 6, 2017 at 14:45

You have been subjected to bullying and sexual harrassment. Your location is tagged as Europe; harassment related to sex is now defined as discrimination in EU law. The specific laws by state are laid out here: Discrimination versus Dignity You could handle the situation by drawing your manager's attention to that document.

At the moment there are sexual harrassment scandals in Hollywood and the UK parliament. The victims of this have often been seriously traumatized for many years. You should not have to go through this and your manager seems to be treating you, the victim, worse than the perpetrator

  • 1
    interesting answer, however you are partially answering the questions of this post. Could you try answering the other related question?
    – DarkCygnus
    Nov 2, 2017 at 21:54

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