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Old 09-11-2016, 07:09 AM   #1
EMH1701
 
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Default Fat-Phobic Coworker -- Advice Wanted

I haven't been around here mostly due to lack of time. I am an area director for Toastmasters this year and have been extremely busy with work.

For the past 2 years, I have had a coworker from Jamaica. He behaves as though he may have some mental problems like untreated OCD. He also gets frequently confused and has memory problems. He thinks he knows how to deal with people, but has basically zero soft skills and would rather have 40+ long e-mail chains than call someone on the phone, even when the boss has told him to pick up the phone.

Last year, he was following me around the office and leering over the cube wall watching me work. I am 41 and dress very conservatively. I tend to wear polo shirts, button-down blouses, sweaters, things of that nature and always wear either a tank top under them or a scarf over them. We can wear jeans at my job, so I usually wear nice jeans.

He got angry when I asked him to stop because it was making me uncomfortable, and basically was all like "how dare you ask me to stop? and "OMG, I was just stretching." I'm sorry, stretching does not entail bending over and looking at your female coworker while she is working, especially when he is in his 20's and I am middle-aged. I was forced to report him to the boss, and now we are finally physically separated, but still within a few feet of each other because we are on the same team.

For a while, he sent me bizarre random texts, complaining mostly about other women in his life, such as a college professor who once gave him a D or some female manager who, I suspect, basically had a nervous breakdown. I don't blame her.

This guy screws up nearly everything I give him, yet the male boss, he does his stuff perfectly every time. I have received multiple complaints about him from buyers, and have told them repeatedly to go to our boss. I am not a manager, so I have basically no power over him other than to ask him things nicely. The boss does very little about him.

This guy has made fat-phobic comments repeatedly such as "that isn't good for you," "this would be better for you," etc. He sits there and tries to find little tiny things that I did that he doesn't like, sometimes weeks after I have covered for him. The types of things that he screws up on are not tiny considering that these buyers are very demanding and perfectionistic. With data entry work, it has to be done right or we look like idiots. He also cannot problem-solve, and he acts like he needs all the answers handed to him on a silver platter. Unfortunately, my workload is such that I rarely have time to answer his questions, and he has been here just over 2 years. The only thing this guy is good at is the copy/paste reports he does for our boss, that I could have done when I was 12. He acts like he is healthier-than-thou and brags about exercising for 2 hours a day. I have hypothyroid, it would be nice if I had the energy to exercise for an hour a day. I have told him I have hypothyroid. He still acts all healthier-than-thou.

I am at the point where I could quit if I was rich enough to. I have started looking for other jobs within the company, but the offerings are not plenty. If I were not an area director for Toastmasters, I would consider looking outside the company, but I have been there 8 years and don't want to give up my 3 weeks of vacation time (which I can't use because this guy either doesn't do the work, does it totally wrong, or does it partially wrong every time I take even just 1 day off.)

He's sent me bizarre random texts, like last year he randomly texted me about some football movie that had violence against women in it that he didn't like. I don't know why he felt the need to tell me that. There was an incident in the parking lot with a female friend of mine in Toastmasters, that was his fault but she said he got very mad at her. He's send me weird texts like he was trying to control my behavior or something. I told him he wasn't my boss and he didn't get to do that. He's made remarks like I shouldn't wear certain clothes that there was no reason given. It was just a cardigan, with a top underneath...excuse me, since when does he get to be the female fashion expert? I told him that I was old enough to choose my own clothes, thank you very much.

Last year, I got myself a bouquet of roses and left a note with a man's name on them on my desk. He stopped with the bizarre random texts after that. However, lately he's started up again with one the other day, just totally out of the blue, stating that he apparently decided to run a red light and didn't get a ticket. If I were a minority in this day and age, I would obey the law to the letter with all the bologna that is going on with our cops. But maybe that is just me.

So basically, I am at wit's end in dealing with him. The boss will not do anything about him, and this guy will not do anything simply because I ask him to. I really don't have a choice other than to find another job within the company. In addition, this man has shown enough red flags that I cannot trust him, not only with my work but not to be safe around him. I have tried talking to the boss numerous times about him and nothing has been done. I have zero faith that anything will get done about him, so long as our boss is the boss.

Has anyone else had an impossible-to-deal-with coworker like this?
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Old 09-12-2016, 02:59 AM   #2
agouderia
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Default

This sounds like a case where you have to bypass your boss.

From what you write
a) you've addressed the issue to him several times
b) he is not the 'supreme' boss, meaning the owner of the business or has no one else above him.

So you should document both
- the harassment from your co-worker
- the times you've addressed it with your boss
(and have someone you trust proof-read both, to make sure it's fact oriented and not too emotional)

and with that in hand move either up in the company hierarchy (even it that means going to headquarters or regional branch, etc.) or to whatever type of worker representation, union, anti-discrimination official or whatever your company might have to deal with employee issues. What about the HR department in this context - be it at your office or the company in general? In many companies they're also addressees for such cases.

If you document it well, you'll have all good arguments as well as some seniority on your side.

Good luck - and good nerves, you'll need them!
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Old 09-12-2016, 03:06 PM   #3
EMH1701
 
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Default

Well....the main reasons I have not gone over my boss's head is a. some other people have told me they wanted to go over his head regarding said co-worker, but was afraid there would be retaliation, and b. co-worker does act as though he has mental issues.

Some days he acts relatively normal. Other days he asks odd questions, like today, he asked how to dial a phone number and the only thing wrong with it was the spacing -- the person was from India and used just slightly different spacing than American people use in their phone numbers. I told him if he was really that confused to go to a phone room and use one of the real phones. (We have software phones on our computers. He has been here over 2 years, so he should know how to use them by now.)

Most of the questions he asks me are of the variety that a. anyone with a legit college degree should be able to figure them out without help and b. he acts like he just wants the answers all handed to him. I try and make him figure them out on his own because how will he learn if I tell him everything?

The looking at me over the cubicle did stop, I am not 100% sure if the following has stopped but it is a small building that we moved to, and I am also not sure how much of his behavior can be attributed to a possible mental illness and/or disability, rather than specific intent to harass me. But I also can't trust him because of his mental problems. He is also a minority, so chances are me going to HR will not result in anything without cold hard proof. Otherwise it is he said, she said.
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Old 09-12-2016, 04:04 PM   #4
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Default #Needle-scratching-on-the-record...

Quote:
Originally Posted by EMH1701 View Post
"...He is also a minority, so chances are me going to HR will not result in anything without cold hard proof. Otherwise it is he said, she said."
Why do you think your human resources department cares that he's Black? Is there some labor shortage out there we don't know about?

Based on your previous posts, if I recall correctly, the reason this seems to be tolerated has something to do with that you're the only one who actually has to deal with his behavior. And so, in as much as you're not that directly important to your boss, he's not going to expend any energy or political capital to do anything for you. However, as agouderia points out, once you demonstrate his ineptitude for others, that could very well prove the catalyst for changing his (boss') ways, if only to just rehabilitate the evaluation of his own performance.

It will probably piss him (Boss) off. However, if he doesn't like or care about you already, might not make that much difference in the long run, other than getting either him or the other guy (co-worker) fired, moving on to somewhere else.

Life rewards actions. Do nothing, and the dynamic likely perpetuates, culminating in a decline, sometime more or less gradual. Do something, put something up, on a consistent basis, and you might eventually be rewarded for it.
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Old 09-25-2016, 01:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EMH1701 View Post
Some other people have told me they wanted to go over his head regarding said co-worker, but was afraid there would be retaliation
For what it's worth, in the military, we call that reprisal. Punishing someone for doing the right thing. When such cases are taken up the chain, it tends to work in your favor when you can point out that things suddenly get rougher the moment that you did things appropriately for the situation. As you noted: you've tried taking this up before, only for it to get ignored and for the problem to persist. In that event, if such is noted on report, either your boss, who's making a mistake by ignoring a problem, or the coworker, being a problem themselves will have something done about them. It may not be immediate, but the simple fact is that the more levels that try to ignore things just means the higher you run things up.
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