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'AITA for firing an intern because she wouldn't stop hugging people?'

'AITA for firing an intern because she wouldn't stop hugging people?'

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'AITA for firing an intern because she wouldn't stop hugging people?'

I manage the internship program at my job. We have six and twelve month internships. This post is about a woman (22) in the program, I’ll call her Hester. I noticed Hester hugged her classmates a lot. It was something I brought up in our One on Ones because it seemed excessive. She didn't seem to like that feedback but didn’t say anything.

Around December she tried to hug me at a company function. Her review was the next day so I brought it up again. Saying she needed to keep her hands to herself, that this was a work place and not a social club, and reminded her that a lot of people, including myself, do not like being hugged. She argued with me and said it was how she greeted people and shared a connection with them.

I told her she needed to find another way of doing so. She got sulky and I don’t feel like we came to much of an understanding, despite my efforts to talk through it. I told her that this would be the last time I would be willing to have this conversation with her.

A new intern program joined us a couple weeks ago. On Monday, two of them came into my office and wanted to talk about Hester. Apparently, she had been constantly hugging on them, despite them both telling her to stop. I apologized to them and also had some conversations with the teams the interns worked with and this had been an ongoing problem.

Wednesday I brought Hester into my office and told her that she could no longer be part of the program. I explained that we had talked about this twice before, that she was making people uncomfortable, and she appeared to not be picking up on work place norms. She was not happy about this and ended up needing to be escorted out.

Yesterday and today I’ve been getting calls from her parents and her professor, saying she needs this internship and that they don’t think it’s a big deal and I shouldn’t have fired her for it. They haven’t explicitly called me an a**hole, but have definitely implied it.

Notes from OP:

I'm a really big believer in no hugs at work, mostly because I hate being hugged. LoL. I really, really hate being hugged so I wondered if I was taking out a personal bias against her.

One her second talk from me we did talk about other forms of connected like hand shakes that were more appropriate for the working world and we did talk about sexual harassment and other workplace implications. I make sure I am very thorough with them because a lot of times this is the students first exposure to an office environment and I want them to learn.

Here's what people had to say:

majesticgoatsparkles writes:

NTA. She was crossing boundaries and did not care. More than that, she did not care that she was invading other people’s space and making them uncomfortable. Her desire to hug people DOES NOT trump other people’s desire not to be touched. Her behavior was unprofessional and should not be tolerated. You were right to fire her.

Her parents and professor need to get a grip. If Hester were a man, I am sure they would get it.

Disastrous-Review857 OP responded:

Thank you for saying this. I was afraid my own feelings about being hugged were getting in the way of my thought process.

berta903410 writes:

To be clear, Hester was engaging in sexual harassment. It opens you up to liability if you allow it to continue. It is completely inappropriate.

JustMeLurkingAround- writes:

I love hugs, and I love hugging people. But I'd never hug a coworker at work. This is so unprofessional, it hurts.

Sources: Reddit
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