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I've been with this company for 6 months, I've been on this site with the same crew for about 2.5 months. One of them (no longer on the crew for many reasons) started out calling me Val. Another guy tried calling me Val. The remaining guy says Val so loudly, dozens of times a day that now the entire crew thinks my name is Val. So I told him that that was not my name, I can't stand being called Val, please stop. He told me he's a country boy and he can't help it. I spent 20 years in Florida with people calling me Val. None of them had a problem when I corrected them.

Other day this guy is asking me a stupid question, calling me Val, over and over and over. I told him quietly that isn't my name and walked off. He started yelling at me, he screamed profanity at my back. I kept going. Eventually I guess he called the boss. I finish getting my hoodie and come back unruffled to find bosses and coworkers everywhere. I was told that the boss has other things to do. I get that. I respect that. They separated us for the day. I work with guys who don't speak English, don't use my name at all and have zero problems...

The thing that bothers me the most is that in 30 years of being called, Val, Bell, Zell, Dell, Bev, Velveeta, Velvet, Valvoline, Velcro and and everything else imaginable... no one has ever screamed profanity at me. There has also been a number of sexual harrassment incidents. I don't know if this is my punishment for not sleeping with him but this is getting old.

I feel like I've tried to be professional. I'm tempted to pick out a new name for him. Anyone have advice for what to do next?

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  • 4
    In terms of what to do next, what, specifically, would you like to happen?
    – Upper_Case
    Apr 19, 2019 at 16:55
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    Anyone have advice for what to do next? File a formal complaint? Find a new job? What guidance are you specifically looking for?
    – joeqwerty
    Apr 19, 2019 at 17:31
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    Have you tried to explain to your boss and this other individual that they have been saying your name incorrectly and you find it rude and unprofessional that they decide to keep calling you that although you corrected them on numerous occasions? You're trying to play this off as some sort of cool person or something but obviously it is bothering you but it seems like you're not very clear on your position.
    – Dan
    Apr 19, 2019 at 17:47
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    The "sexual harassment" angle completely eclipses anything else mentioned here, Vel.
    – Fattie
    Apr 20, 2019 at 14:52
  • I've had a guy call me "Andy" or "Drew" and it felt belittling. It was saying: OK, I'll change, but not to what you really want. Even without the sexual harassment, your simple request should be honored. Unfortunately the harassment puts this well beyond "I know this seems small to you, and if there's anything small I can change for you, let me know."
    – aschultz
    Apr 22, 2019 at 4:42

6 Answers 6

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Pattern of harassment here.

  1. Somebody is asking for sexual favors.
  2. That same person is publicly demeaning you by mis-speaking your name because you rejected 1.
  3. That same person is using profanity and shouting against you.

If you're in the US, your company runs a serious risk to reputation and money if they don't deal with this situation promptly. The present state of employment law, not to mention #MeToo, makes this your company's problem as well as yours.

Don't use a nasty nickname for him. Don't try to deal with this on your own. Don't play his game. Please don't. Nothing good can come of it.

Just help the company solve their (and your) problem.

Keep a record, in a paper notebook you take home with you, of dates, times, names, and things said.

Look in the employee manual for the sexual harassment policy, and do what it says about filing a complaint. You can ask your manager (or any manager) for a copy of the manual if you don't have one.

Please keep in mind that this sort of thing truly scares managers and executives the first time they have to deal with it (ask me how I know that sometime when you have an hour to spare). If you possibly can, be professional and cool when you make your complaint.

If the company is stupid enough to retaliate against you (or allow your co-workers to retaliate) in some way, call your local state representative's office and ask how to file a harassment / retaliation complaint against the company. (State representatives answer these kinds of questions as part of their duties.)

Be strong! Your harasser is weak.

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    3. The same person then attempted to intimidate you by raising his voice and using profanity. This is textbook hostile work environment. This is the right course of action Apr 22, 2019 at 18:49
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    The only thing I would add to this otherwise excellent answer would be the standard advice for any workplace issue: Document everything. Regardless of the outcome or how your HR department or employer reacts, you will always be better off if you keep your own records of what happened, when it happened, who said what, and so on.
    – dwizum
    Apr 23, 2019 at 14:18
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I’m afraid there are far too many nuances particular to your situation for anyone outside of it to answer. So perhaps some things to consider will guide your decision. First off, figure out how willing you are to find another job or put up with the wrong name. You shouldn’t have to, but it sounds as though your boss is too busy to lead and care about his job (team cohesion is a manager’s role). There are ramifications that may not be fair, but that doesn’t make them non-existent.

The simplest answer is to let him call you Val. You shouldn’t have to. Just laying out options.

The passive aggressive way is to never speak of it again and just start intentionally mangling his name, explaining it away as being just a Florida beach girl or whatever you want and that’s how you talk. He may take the point, or it may just escalate.

A more professional answer comes down to having one more attempt with him then addressing your manager. Unfortunately, 1) it seems country boy has already made his version the de facto with the boss and 2) the boss doesn’t care to be involved in this aspect of his job. So even if you are being professional, the others may not be.

Perhaps you could type up something like the following and practice it. Attempt to speak to Country Boy in person, but if he will not allow you state what you intend, tell him you are sorry that you cannot agree then email him the message and CC your boss, perhaps with a preamble indicating that your attempt to discuss it seemed to fail but it is important it be addressed.

“I would like to move past our recent challenges. I fail to see how I am wrong or unreasonable to expect to be called by my name instead of another even if it happens to sound similar. You have excused it away as being a “country boy”, but I have no reason to accept that your roots have somehow made you incapable of pronouncing and using my name. I also do not accept profanity in support of some right not address me by my name. All I ask is that you refer to me by name.”

The nice part about emailing (though it’s a last resort) is you do have documentation. Should you need to go to HR, you have it.

Again, taking a stand may be right and feel good. Hopefully you are in a position to do so, but ultimately factor in whether you can deal with the possible outcomes of ruffling feathers…no matter how right you are.

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    As an alternative to mangling his name, firmly ignore any comment or communication addressed to "Val", because you are not Val. If anyone wants your attention, they have to either not use a name at all, or use your correct name. Apr 20, 2019 at 7:43
  • 1
    @PatriciaShanahan OP stated doing that is what led to the boss getting involved and scolding them.
    – Summer
    Apr 20, 2019 at 21:33
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but "Val" and "Vel" seem to be so close that "Val" might be your name, with bad pronunciation.

So don't complain about them using the wrong name, complain about not pronunciating it right and offer to help with the pronunciation. "No, that's not how you say Vel. The way you say it, it sounds more like Val. The vowel in the middle is e, not a. And the 'V' sounds like V in xxx not like V in yyy".

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  • I would also add that even if corrected, they may still not be able to hear the difference between what they are saying and what the OP name is. For example, English speakers have issues with the "lh" sound in Portuguese, and when you show them the difference between "lh" and "li" sound, they hear the same thing, this is due to the fact that there are more different sounds in the Portuguese language than in English. No justification for the profanity and harassment though... Apr 23, 2019 at 8:27
  • BTW, it's "pronouncing", rather than "pronunciating". Other than that, your answer says much what I would say. How many people insist on calling a former governor of New York "Mare-ee-oh Cuomo"? Martin Bashir kept calling the previous president of the US "Bear-ack Obomber". Apr 23, 2019 at 16:14
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Assuming your name is pronounced Vee El, the country boy probably doesn't understand how to pronounce your name. The other's probably just don't know Val isn't your name. Tell them how you prefer them to pronounce your name every single time they say it wrong.

As for the country boy, treat him like a foreign national who can't speak English. The unfortunate truth is that there are lots of people in the world who are actually physically incapable of producing the sounds the make up your name with their mouth. The country boy might actually be one of them, or he might just have extreme difficulty pronouncing the e in Vel in a way that doesn't sound like Val. If you think I'm kidding, try learning some Chinese or Estonian. Those languages have sounds that English just doesn't. Vel is an extremely uncommon name in the USA. To be honest I don't think it's English. It's going to take someone who isn't used to pairing those sounds together an absolute ton of effort to figure out how to do that. For some people, pronouncing Vel correctly is going to be extremely difficult. Others just won't be able to do it.

You're going to have to teach people how to pronounce your name. You'd have to teach me how to say it, and I'm fairly confident that I understand how it's pronounced at a conceptual level.

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    So telling someone "that is not my name" and correcting them is not enough in your opinion?
    – Stun Brick
    Apr 23, 2019 at 14:06
  • @StunBrick If they don't understand they're saying it wrong then it won't work. If you think you're saying "Vel" when you say "Val" then you're going to keep saying "Val". If others hear you saying that, they'll probably think it's short for Valery or something.
    – user53651
    Apr 24, 2019 at 13:59
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    I guess ultimately it depends on how the OP has gone about "correcting" the behaviour.
    – Stun Brick
    Apr 25, 2019 at 13:18
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Leave.

I do not know you, but as previously said, there are some serious patterns of abuse. they don't use your correct name, even after correcting them nicely. They asked for sexual favors. They insulted you.

They will not stop.

Or you take a risk and talk to HR which might do something, or you leave.

If those behaviors happen in front of other people, and still nothing happen, it is a danger because people might think it is a "okay" behaviour.

Seriously, for your safety, I would be careful. You shouldn't accept to be treated like that. No one should.

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You could try wearing a name tag with "VEL" written clearly on it to wear at the office.

As gnasher729 has said, it's okay to correct someone if they mispronounce your name. It's not okay if they do it constantly.

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  • To clarify, we all wear badges with our names on them. We all sign our names on 4-8 pieces of paper daily. I have explained my name, how it's pronounced and my preferences multiple times. I have stated I will not answer to Val. I spent 20 years in Florida. I happen to know what people hear when I say my name. The guy I work with is not stupid, and he can say his name, Lee, just fine. No. I'm pretty sure he's found an 8 year old way to be abusive and get away with it. I am so tired of leaving jobs because some fool wants to be an a$$.
    – Vel Boyd
    Apr 23, 2019 at 23:34
  • I answered like this because we had a similar problem at our office so management went out and ordered name badges for everyone and instituted a policy that people must wear them. The badges have either first name, or first and last name. What you are describing sounds like bullying.
    – Underverse
    Apr 24, 2019 at 11:38

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