So, I'm just minding my own business about to enjoy my lunch. A coworker sits at the couch near me in the cafeteria. As I start eating my lunch, my coworker decided it's a great time to start getting undressed and change out of his clothes to a new set of clothes. What I want to know is, is that okay? Why didn't he go into the restroom and change? Should I report this? If so, how do I go about reporting it?

Edit: This is in the back work area. There was no one else around but me. And we're the same gender, but should that even make a difference? Also, this is a public library. He didn't get completely naked. He did leave on a white T-shirt, sky blue boxer shorts, and black socks.

Edit: I've already confronted him about it the first time. I asked why not change in the restroom? His reply was and I quote "It's too small in there". I don't have measurements of the restrooms, (we have have two staff restrooms in the cafeteria area that were empty and could have been used) but seriously, how much room does one need to change their clothes? Yes, I get it's not a big deal, but still. It can be uncomfortable if another staff member walks by.

  • no one else noticed them getting naked in the cafeteria? It would depend on the place and state of nakedness, I and others routinely shower at work and wander around with no shirts on while the air dries us if there are no ladies present, but I'm in the tropics – Kilisi Mar 25 '18 at 4:00
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    Need much more information. Location would help, as this would be very culturally-dependent. Was everyone in the room the same gender? Is the lunchroom an employees-only back room, or a font-of-house area? This would certainly be odd in the U.S. – Wesley Long Mar 25 '18 at 4:18
  • Are they making a point about the changing rooms, are the cubicles way too small for changing in? Are they actually dirty, and they don't want to risk clothes falling on the floor? – WendyG Mar 26 '18 at 9:35
  • Have a sense of humor. Next time, take his clothes and run. – user8365 Mar 26 '18 at 16:38

This exact scenario was covered by my workplace Sexual Harassment training. If it makes you uncomfortable, you complain, and the behavior persists, it fits all the criteria for Sexual Harassment.

If, on the other hand, you are fine with the behavior, and not bothered, there is no issue. In the US this is called a Hostile Work Environment.. The key is that the behavior must be unwanted and repeated. It doesn't need to necessarily be a sexual advance.

I am only familiar with US laws on this subject. If you live elsewhere the laws may be different.

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    Since the OP didn't actually say it is uncomfortable for him, but posed a "what if someone else comes by" scenario, filing for harassment/assault is super-overkill. I guess if the OP actually gets to a point and says "It makes me uncomfortable" then it makes sense, but right now it doesn't. – Nelson Mar 26 '18 at 17:36
  • @Nelson I concur. I personally wouldn't have an issue with it either. It can only become a Hostile Work Environment if you are uncomfortable and the behavior persists despite complaint. – Lumberjack Mar 27 '18 at 13:22

No, it is not normal. It is not within the realm of accepted behavior to undress down to your underwear in an open area of the workplace, even temporarily. Exceptions might be made for a case of urgency when the restroom or changing room is not available, but not as a regular occurrence. And even then, it would be better to ask if anyone objects before proceeding, and then to do it as discreetly as possible.

You also don’t need to make a huge deal out of it to report it. It is possible that he assumed you’d be ok with it since you’re both guys, as in a locker room at the gym or in school. If you want to report it, I recommend talking to your supervisor and simply saying something like, “Can we encourage John to change his clothes in the restroom instead of the break room?”


I think it is sort of gray area, and being you the only one present when it happened makes it even more gray. What I mean is that yes, a library is a public place, but in that very moment you were the only one present, and probably the coworker assumed it was not a big deal.

It would have been probably better to address the issue there on the spot, just by asking "hey XXX, I get this is a back work area, but why don't you use the changing room or the restroom to change your clothes? Now we are the only two, but others may come at any moment".

  • I agree, it isn't a big deal, unless OP complains and the behavior persists. – Lumberjack Mar 25 '18 at 11:04
  • OP has raised the issue and the behavior has persisted. – alroc Mar 25 '18 at 11:59
  • This isn’t a gray area, it’s black and white, people should only undress in a locker room and/or bathroom. Doesn’t matter if he wasn’t completely undress it just isn’t something you do – Donald Mar 25 '18 at 20:07

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