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Coworker calls HR after woman jokes that she knows how to 'please herself.' UPDATED.

Coworker calls HR after woman jokes that she knows how to 'please herself.' UPDATED.


Coworker relationships are weird, because on one hand, you spend a large chunk of your life side-by-side with them. So it would make sense to become close and form a friendship. But on the other hand, you know each other through the professional context of work, so there are boundaries you want to keep. These lines can be simple enough to tow when you're just doing work talk - but it's a bit more difficult when you're joking around.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for joking responding to her coworker's question. She wrote:

'AITA for implying to my coworker that I 'please myself' when my husband is away?'

I have been at this company for about two years now and one of my coworkers (John) and I have become pretty good friends and get along well. We are both happily married and just friends, though we do catch up on life during work hours. My husband has been away on a business trip for two weeks now.

John and I were chatting in the office this morning and I mentioned to him that I've been at my house alone for the past week and pretty bored without my husband. He asked me what I do to pass the time and that I must be a bit pent up with my husband gone for that long. I was surprised he said that but I feel comfortable enough around him that it didn't bother me and I chalked it up to playful banter.

I jokingly told him I know exactly how to please myself when my husband is away. He got really awkward and uncomfortable and we've been distant since. I just checked my inbox and there was a meeting on my calendar from HR. I tried to message John but he's not responding and my manager came by my desk and told me that my behavior is ridiculous and to not speak to John until I'm told otherwise. AITA?

People jumped in with thoughts and questions.

TyrionsRedCoat wrote:

"He asked me what I do to pass the time and that I must be a bit pent up with my husband gone for that long."

And this man has the gall to complain about YOU? Wow. When he says, "Oh I didn't mean it that way,'" you can say "Well, clearly I didn't mean my comment the way your filthy mind took it! You KNOW I love to cook. OF COURSE I was talking about cooking and eating whatever I want without worrying whether Husband will like it!"

It could work. Good luck. NTA.

ParsimoniousSalad wrote:

NTA. When you get to HR, be utterly confused. "Yeah, I get to eat all the chocolate chip cookie dough by myself when my husband is gone - I don't even have to bake the cookies. Or clean up right away! I get to please myself and do what I want. I'm sorry, is there a problem?"

XMandri wrote:

How THE F**K are people blaming OP, when the guy literally asked her if she's pent up when the husband is away. Are you people for real? NTA.

PowerIllustrious4858 wrote:

ESH. I'm going to bold out what I think your biggest issue will be. Eh, rule of thumb is, even if you think you're cool, the safest bet is to AVOID any s*x talk, or implied s*x talk, with someone at work. You could have turned him in if you wanted on the "Don't you get pent up while you're husband's away?"

But since you responded that you know how to pleasure yourself, which is more graphic in HR terms than what he said, that let him open the door because he most likely is going to say that he didn't mean pent up'in the way you took it, and you made it s*xual, even if you believe his intent was talking about s*x.

It sucks, but yeah realistically, SO MUCH can be considered s*xual harassment. In work trainings, most will point out that s*xual harassment can exist in little conversations, big conversations, in body movement, in the way things are phrased, in how you may say something, and sometimes in conversations you may think are okay.

All it takes for it to go to HR is for someone to feel uncomfortable, it doesn't matter who started it at that point. Now do I think that the other guy should be talked too? Yeah, and honestly he probably has already been talked too because he took it to HR.

But again, you don't know if he's going to say 'I meant pent up like you're in the house all alone and you've been pent up in the house without your husband there' but if he does then well...that sucks and it'll be your job to open up the context of that conversation.

If none of the conversation had been even alluding to be s*xual up to that point then...well RIP. I almost want to guarantee you, he's going to say "I meant how do you handle being pent up in the house...she made it weird."

JeepersCreepers74 wrote:

Girl, you need to take up crocheting ASAP and bring half a baby blanket into that HR appointment with you so you can say 'This is what I was referring to. It's how I please myself when my husband is gone.' John is obviously feigning some sort of misunderstanding with his original "pent up" comment and your only defense is to do the same. ESH.

After receiving lots of feedback, OP jumped on with an update:

Update: I just got off my meeting with HR. I was able to convince everyone that it was a misunderstanding and that I meant I can entertain myself while my husband is away. It's interesting though, John didn't bring up his comment in the HR complaint. I brought that up myself and he got scared and began to say that he meant it that I must be bored in the house all alone with nothing to do. I let him have it.

They won't be pursuing a formal investigation because they're chalking it up to a misunderstanding, but they are keeping everything on record in case anything happens again. They are moving John to a different team temporarily and my manager apologized to me for being harsh with me earlier. I will not be speaking to or interacting with John going forward.

Luckily, it sounds like she got it resolved.

Sources: Reddit
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