Me and my coworker at McDonald's are friends and we have a special handshake that involves some kind of hug. We did it at the of today's shift and all of a sudden the managers start accusing us of sexual harassment. I want to know if that's true.

  • Btw. I have given an answer, but I feel this is more an interpersonal question than a workplace one.
    – Purrrple
    Feb 1, 2018 at 10:27
  • Even if you think your boss overreacted, some countries / company policies can be really uncomfortable with hugs. Have you any information on those?
    – user34587
    Feb 1, 2018 at 10:51

1 Answer 1


If both of you are fine with it, it's not sexual harassment. It would be if one of you felt harassed by it.

I would talk to your managers and try to find out why it is a problem for them. Maybe they find it inappropriate at work? Maybe they feel threatened in some way? I can imagine someone is afraid you try to hug them too, and in this case it should be enough to just explain them you are doing it with your friend because you are friends, but would never do it with someone who doesn't want to be hugged.

Edit: As cdkMoose pointed out, depending on how the hug was there is a chance it was sexual harassment. In that case it would be a good idea to talk to the managers, and try to find out why they percieved it as such.

  • 1
    @cdkMoose I think there's an important distinction to be made between "being fine with it" and "allowing it to happen without protest." In the latter case you're right it would still be harassment, but that's not what DPS said.
    – Steve-O
    Feb 1, 2018 at 14:18
  • 1
    @Steve-O, I should have been clearer. Just because the two of them are fine with it doesn't means it's not sexual harassment to someone else. A more extreme example would be telling an off-color joke to your buddy. Just because you both think it's funny, doesn't mean it's not sexual harassment to someone else who heard it. Passive participants can be subject of sexual harassment.
    – cdkMoose
    Feb 1, 2018 at 14:38
  • 6
    @cdkMoose For something like an off-color joke, I would agree, but for a hug? Come on. If society has truly reached the point where two consenting individuals hugging in public counts as sexual harassment on account of bystanders then I weep for future of our species.
    – Steve-O
    Feb 1, 2018 at 14:58
  • 1
    @cdkMoose I didn't think in this case. Thanks for pointing it out. This reminds me on how I saw a coworker touching a fenale coworker in a way I find inappropriate, which scared me. She told me she was fine with that, but I was affraid he would do the same with me.
    – Purrrple
    Feb 1, 2018 at 17:28
  • 1
    If one of them is a manager of the other, a case could still be made by others. Sexual harassment at the workplace does not necessarily mean the "victim" has to be directly at the receiving end. There is a possibility of this particular employee receiving special treatment on account of their relationship with the manager, which counts as sexual harassment of the other employees reporting to the same manager. I am not at all implying that every hug is sexual harassment, just that the possibility cannot just be brushed aside without further details.
    – Masked Man
    Feb 2, 2018 at 1:18

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