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Black woman with disgusted attitude at waterfront

Source: Granger Wootz / Getty

With the leaked taping of Donald Trump making lewd, sexual assaults against women, our friends over at Hello Beautiful asked, “What do you do if you hear these comments?”

One thing is for sure, you shouldn’t laugh it off or play into it like NBC’s Billy Bush, who was interviewing Trump when the comments were made. However, getting angry and retaliating isn’t the smart move either Queen (remember workplace etiquette). If you are not sure what to do, here are some tips to address the situation while keeping your job.

Address it

If you take offense to your coworker’s pet names, such as honey, boo, or bae, it’s time to put a stop to the madness. Sure, these could be terms endearment, but you certainly don’t have to sit back and take it when you feel uneasy. Be open and honest about your aversion to overhearing stories of his sexual escapades in the break room. Until you address it, he’ll remain oblivious to your concerns and continue with his “locker room talk.” After all, bringing awareness to the situation could be eye-opening for him. Best-case scenario, he’ll apologize and correct his behavior, so both of you can move on with your lives.

Set boundaries

Let him know he’s crossed the line. What’s acceptable for Barbara may not be tolerable for Shirley. To put it plainly, he’s broken boundaries when “Haha, that’s funny” becomes “WTF did you just say?” Despite the anticipated awkward moment, tell him when you deem something hurtful and inappropriate. Even if you’re not on the receiving end, don’t let him get away with disrespecting your coworkers either. Yes, we like to mind our business and sip our tea, but having your coworker’s back can make a world of difference.

Report it

After you’ve made your point clear, the unruly behavior is likely to stop. However, there will always be that one. The one who, no matter what you say or do, he will continue with his antics. When putting your foot down is not enough, it’s time to take a trip to your supervisor’s office. 

If he’s your supervisor, HR should be your destination. Many employers offer sexual harassment training and have a defined protocol for addressing issues. Filing a complaint against a coworker can be difficult, but necessary. You’re entitled to feel safe and respected at work regardless of what anyone else thinks. If your company doesn’t want to get sued, they’ll launch an investigation ASAP.

Remember, you do not have to accept or take unprofessional behavior no matter what your pay rate or position within the company is. Many women, even me, found ourselves in positions where we didn’t think we had a strong enough voice to be heard or taken seriously. It is always important to report the problem before it gets out of hand. If you don’t know your rights, you can go to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to see what the laws are in your state.

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