Whether you’re his supervisor, his peer or his subordinate, the office womanizer can cause problems for you. In some cases, his behavior might be a compulsion related to low self-esteem and depression, according to licensed clinical social worker Dr. Allan Schwartz, and he could be unaware of the problems that might result. In other cases, he could be deliberately committing sexual harassment.
If the womanizer's attentions are directed at someone who finds them unwelcome, the behavior can be considered sexual harassment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors constitute harassment. If the womanizer is boastful about his conquests or repeatedly makes derogatory remarks about women in general, those behaviors can also qualify as harassment. If he directs his attentions at you, make it clear you're not interested. If you feel you're being harassed, talk to your manager or the human resources department.
Leave the Job
The mere fact that you are aware of the womanizer’s activities can be uncomfortable, especially if the women he’s pursuing also work for your organization. Nell Scovell, a female writer on Late Night with David Letterman, wrote in an October 2009 article in Vanity Fair that she felt Letterman’s sexual relationships with female staffers created a hostile working environment. Scovell says the women with whom Letterman had affairs benefited professionally from the relationships - they had access to information and wielded disproportionate power. Ultimately, Scovell left the show and what she called her dream job because of Letterman’s behavior and the overall office atmosphere.
On-the-job romances, even when they are consensual, can have significant repercussions within the organization, according to a November 2009 article originally published in the Boston Globe. The article notes that David Letterman’s transgressions came to public knowledge because of a blackmail scheme initiated by a coworker. Some organizations develop anti-fraternization rules. More effective, according to the article, is employee education about sexual harassment and a policy that forbids executives from dating employees under any circumstances.
If you are the supervisor or senior executive who becomes aware of the womanizer’s activities, begin with an investigation. Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s assistant counsel, Lynn Atkinson, recommends a careful, neutral and very thorough investigation, with an eye to the possibility that a government agency or court will be reviewing your actions. Document your actions carefully and be sure that you have been as impartial and as fair as possible. Dr. David G. Javitch, an organizational psychologist and president of Javitch Associates, recommends that you not ignore the problem, intervene as soon as possible, do the research personally and help the womanizer get back on track if possible. If all else fails, Javitch recommends you follow company protocol to terminate the womanizer.
- Mental Health Care: Of Troubled Marriages, Sexual Compulsions and Depression
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Sexual Harassment
- Entrepreneur: 5 Steps to Deal with Difficult Employees
- Vanity Fair: Letterman and Me
- Connecticut Business & Industry Association: Conducting an Investigation
- Boston.com: Loving Where You Work
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