I do not get along with a coworker A, but we work together and don't let it stop us from getting tasks done.

Coworker B is dating coworker A. Coworker A goes on (possibly permanent) leave and says disrespectful things about me to coworker B. Coworker B is not friendly to me after, so I decide it is best to not talk to her. I have stopped talking to coworker B in order to avoid the issue/drama.

Is this a form of harassment of me? I am trying to prevent further problems, and I don't have a problem with coworker B. I simply want to avoid confrontation that could lead to a bigger workplace problem.

This is a large company, about 500 employees and I do not work with coworker B.

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    I do not get along with a coworker A have you tried finding out why, especially since you work together? Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 7:48

5 Answers 5


Refusing to talk is not normally a form of harassment

Harassment requires you to engage - what you are doing is the opposite.

There are some grey areas you need to watch out for. Your behaviour might be considered bullying in cases where Co-worker B needs to discuss something work related. In this case you'll be able to get away with avoiding small talk but you will need to communicate normally.

Nobody can compel you to pretend to like Co-worker B but you might be going too far by refusing to speak at all. Remember that people are fallable, if you get to know her better you might find she isn't so bad.

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    And, conversely, she might find that you aren't so bad. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 15:53
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    One of my co-workers holds grudges against many people at once, refusing to talk to them for work-related stuff as well, but it's treated as a performance issue rather than harassment. I'd say 'the silent treatment', where you selectively ignore someone specifically to 'punish' them, should be considered bullying but not harassment.
    – AlannaRose
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 17:51
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    Of course, if the workplace values an amiable cordial environment and the OP is perceived as not playing ball, their future opportunities at the company may end up limited.
    – eps
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 18:17
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    Ostracism absolutely is considered bullying. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 19:20
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    @JackAidley I would call it "ostracism" if OP would encourage others to isolate person B, not if they on their own choose to avoid conflict with B. I assume that OP and B have nothing to do with each other, then there is no reason why OP need to engage with them. Although, in a professional context, I recommend always to exchange the minimum formal greetings ("good morning" etc.), even if brief. Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 15:58

Coworker B is not friendly to me after, so I decide it is best to not talk to her.

That's fine, workplace is not primarily meant for making friends. If she's not talking to you, you also don't need to force yourself.

However, keep in mind, do not let this situation override professionalism. If Coworker B needs to talk / discuss with you at any point about any work related item, you need to comply. Again you don't need to engage them beyond the scope of work, have the discussion, conclude it and go on your way. If you feel they are trying to strike a side-conversation for whatever reason, politely ask to be excused and get back to your work. Same is applicable from your side also, if you need their help, approach them like you'd do for any other co-worker, setup a formal meeting if it's more than a 5 minute talk, and focus on getting the work done.


I had a similar problem. I took my coworker to the side and told him that his behavior is NOT acceptable. I told him that I don't like him, and I will never like him. I said had 0 things in common but at work we have to be loyal to each other and use politics that fit us both so we can co-exist in the same company. His face changed like he got choked up and almost started crying, and he was sad but after that he knew not to mess around with me and with time we actually became friends. We are good friends today, and we hang out after work too.

Basically your co-worker feels threatened by you since you probably are more liked than he is and solve problems faster.

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    Did you really have include that you didn't like him and "will never like him"? Also your last sentence seems like a stretch.
    – cela
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 23:00

Not harrassment, but a complete shutdown of communication can still land you in hot water.

You are never obligated to be friends with people, but in a work setting, you may be obligated to open communications enough to have purely work-centric conversations, barring any situation that could make the company legally liable (eg: sexual harassment), which doesn't seem to be the case here.

If your lack of talking becomes a work production barrier, you will soon start to see company action being taken against you in order to remove such barriers, which is why a total communication shutdown is not a good idea.

So long as you keep purely work-related conversations productive, you can shut down any attempts at small talk or social conversation. How you do this is up to you, but I believe honesty is a good policy here.


Yes, it is clearly considered as harassments in the workplace.

It sounds as you are in conflicting situation. If you are not able to resolve this situation yourself, the second best you can do is to discuss with your superior how to resolve this conflict. The job of your superior is to properly address the conflict and to reach a resolution which will benefit the most.

Note, not every situation will be resolve in your favor.

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