Funny how I never blogged about this when it happened: a year ago, my co-worker Don-Marie (a much older woman), abruptly began bullying me. She seemed obsessed with the necklines on the shirts I wore, saying they were too low and "provocative". She said that I was distracting the male clients (we work in mental health, at a crisis house), and here's the kicker: that I was going to cause our male co-worker to cheat on his wife because he would be too tempted by seeing my "provocative, sexy" shirts. And, she added, how would that make me feel, if I knew I had caused so-and-so to cheat on his wife? Besides, wasn't I supposed to be a Christian?
For the record, my necklines never go any lower than this:
And secondly, you cannot even SEE cleavage with the shirts I wear. What you do see is a bit of shadow, but no cleavage. Everyone else I work with thinks I dress appropriately, and they find it laughable that someone would actually have a problem with what I wear.
Anyways, this woman would NOT lay off - try as I might to defend myself. She just bulldozed right over me when I tried to stick up for myself. She kept upping the ante, and her attacks became even MORE mean and obnoxious. She would stare at my chest, gesture at it, and make comments about how big my breasts are. At one point she even insinuated that I was a prostitute! That happened when I was leaving work at the end of my shift. Another co-worker asked me where I was going, and Don Marie said "She's wearing hooker boots and a low-cut top, where do you think she's going?" I freaked out on her but it didn't do any good. So the next day, I went to my boss and he spoke to her. In fact, she got written up for it.
For the next long while, she left me alone. But her personality got her in trouble with other people, and the stack of written warnings were added to her file. She realized she was on the verge of being fired, so she went on sick leave for six weeks.
She just came back about a week ago, and guess what? The first thing she does is seek me out and "apologize" to me for what went on between us last October. I told her it was over with and that I didn't want to talk about it. She kept right on going though. She started blabbering on about all the stuff against her and that she didn't deserve it; then she turned around and said that all her work trouble started with ME and that before I had reported her, her record had been spotless. She went on to say that I had been mistaken in her intentions towards me when she was criticizing my dress; she was only saying those things to "protect" me. She denied saying some of the disgusting things that she DID say, like insinuating that I was going to go out and prostitute myself.
Should I have gotten up and walked out of the room? Yes. But I am probably the least assertive person you know! I am so afraid of hurting someone's feelings, even when the person is being a total jerk to me. So I sat there and took her crap when it became obvious that she was going to ignore my requests to LEAVE IT ALONE.
Which brings me to the reason I'm so upset about this. Not only did she deny the stuff she did to me, and blame ME for all her problems, but she began staring at my chest and commenting that my shirt was low-cut and showing cleavage (which it WASN'T!!!). From then on she basically couldn't take her eyes off my chest while she blabbered on and on. I felt totally degraded.
I was upset the next day and told my parents what happened. I asked them if I should let my boss know about this, and they said no. Some of my co-workers, however, think I should.
What do you think?
I mean, my concern is that this woman is mentally unstable (everyone else thinks she is), and therefore unable to control her behaviour, which means she'll just keep this crap up. In fact, the next shift I worked with her after this most recent incident: she walked in and started to stare at my chest AGAIN!!!!
Can a person get in trouble for staring whereever they choose? Probably not. But I don't want her to start making comments again.
Should I go to the boss?
UPDATE: I sent her a strongly-worded email, and forwarded a copy to my boss. I also updated him on the situation, and he was totally sympathetic with me.
Though if she does start up again, immediately tell her to stop. And staring is included in bullying behaviour. And let her know that if she does continue that you will let the boss know and follow through with action if you have to.
I sent her a strongly-worded email saying just that. However, like two days later, she was fired. I'm very relieved that I don't have to work with her anymore; however other employees have told me to watch my back, because this woman truly is very mentally ill - and there is no doubt she blames me for her termination.