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  1. #1

    Default Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Alabama
    I had sent some texts to a fellow employee involving sexual comments. I stopped of my own accord despite her never asking me to stop about 1 month ago because I caught a conscience. I even sent a text about 2 months ago that asked the question, are these texts bothersome or offending you. She said no with a smiley face. The worst text I can think of was one inviting her to have an affair. She never said stop or that she was offended, and in fact would make a comment on her own every now and then. Of course I did not save any of these texts. She saved mine, the incriminating ones.

    Last week she went to the boss and showed him some texts I sent. He apologized profusely, called me and told me to stop even though I already had on my own, and the next work day, I went to her and apologized profusely. I garanteed that there would never be anything off the straight and narrow from me ever again with anyone, not just her. No jokes, anything. I realize I can no longer tolerate any conduct even if in joke with any other employees. I begged her forgiveness and assured her no animosity or work place discrimination would ever occur.

    Her husband wants her to file a claim, even though she initially said she was "ok" with how it was handled, and now he wants her to quit, so she put in her 2 wk notice.

    Help please? Can I ask for transcripts of all texts to me from my cell company to help my case as I deleted them?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    not here
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    1,415

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    If she files a claim with the EEOC, it will be against your employer, not you personally. All the EEOC will do is oblige your employer to make you stop sexting her, and since you've stopped, your employer is already in compliance.

    Her quitting is just going to weaken her case. Her husband is giving her very bad advice, as she will find out at some point.

    If she files a claim with the EEOC and your employer tells you about it, it probably wouldn't hurt if you obtained the described transcripts at that time.

    Her husband is giveing her very bad advice.

    If she files a claim with the EEOC it will be against your employer, not you. All the EEOC will want to know is if the sexting has stopped, and when you and your employer show that it has not only stopped, it stopped before she filed her claim, the matter will be dropped.

    The quitting thing is just drama queen behaviour and won't have any bearing on the outcome of an EEOC case.

    If your employer is investigated by the EEOC, that would be a good time to get those transcripts.

    Meanwhile, don't have anything to do with her anymore, whatever you say or do may end up being used against you.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    Last question first: you can submit a request to your cell phone carrier. Based on what appears in the news, text messages can be retrieved long after their deletion, e.g., ask former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. If a lawsuit actually ensues, you and/or your employer may have to serve the carrier with a subpoena in order to compel production of the complete text messages.

    With that said, I seriously doubt a lawsuit will ever happen. If the facts are as you recount them, she tolerated, if not enjoyed, your digital sexual banter. She would have a hard time establishing your comments were unwelcome. Your coworker would have even a more difficult time establishing that the sexual comments continued after she complained to management. According to you, you discontinued the texting prior to her lodging a complaint to management.

    To establish a case of co-worker sexual harassment, she would have to establish at a minimum (1) the sexual comments were unwelcome and (2) the comments continued after she notified management. If your version of event is accurate, she cannot establish either fundamental prong.

    One last thing: you may want to have a personal “reality check.” There appears to be a real disconnect here. You essentially maintain you were engaged in consensual flirting with a co-worker (including a proposition for an affair). Yet, your co-worker then “inexplicably” alleges harassment. Moreover, you “deleted” her compromising messages while she saved yours. This account suggests you were either acting like an over-stimulated teenager or engaging in less than innocent conduct. In either case, it does not reflect well on you. To your credit, you express some contrition here. Nonetheless, even accepting arguendo your side of the story, I would humbly and respectfully suggest you still need to “own” more of this kerfuffle.

    While you will likely dodge a lawsuit here, you definitely do not want to flirt (in person or digitally) with anyone in the future who does not unmistakably respond in kind to your overtures. Do not equate silence with being receptive.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    Thanks for your response.

    I did delete the messages as I am married, and of course wanted no one to find out what was written at home. It was foolish I know, but that is the reason they were deleted. As far as your other comments, yeah, I was acting like a stupid hormonal teenager, and I should have known better. I am one of these guys who has always played by the rules and been above the fray, and I screwed up royally.

    I have learned a lesson, trust me. I no longer will even be drawn into an off-color joke at work, much less anything of this nature again. As far as owning more of this situation... I own it all as I should have known better as an adult. I should always be professional.

    Again, thank you for your response. Please if anyone else has anything to contribute, please do so.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    Even people who normally travel on the high road have had experiences on the low! Fortunately, this situation did not devolve further into costing you your marriage or your job.

    No one is perfect. Unfortunately, these types of mistakes can have lasting consequences. Again, you dodged a bullet. All it has apparently "cost" you is (1) your friendship with your coworker and (2) your having to have difficult discussions with your boss. Furthermore, this type of “friend” you do not need in your life for a multiple of reasons.

    Last bit of unsolicited advice: you may want to redouble your efforts to reconnect with your wife. At one time, you loved her enough to marry her. In all likelihood, you still love her. (Otherwise, you probably would not care about her discovering your "near" affair.) I am sure she has had your back in the past. The fact you have expressed regret here suggests that you can make it work with her. I hope all the best for both of you!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    Thank you ESteele. And yes, I am redoubling my commitment to her. Interestingly enough, and though it may be hard to believe for most, I had made that decision before all this surfaced. Most folks only make a change after they are caught. Real change takes much more than a couple of weeks and is a process, but the first steps in the right direction are not less important than the final ones.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    Well, the situation has taken a turn for the worse. I got a certified letter last Thursday that stated she had seen a lawyer to represent her interests in pursuit of legal action against me and the business. Her letter stated falsly that I had continued to harass her after management reprimanded me. I have the cell phone records that show I stopped all communication with her on June 29, no other text were sent, and as I stated her complaint was on July 14th. The records also show that our texts were nearly 50/50 in number back and forth for the last two months we texted. She had told management that she never text me back during her initial complaint on July 14th.

    After apologies to her from myself and management, she still threatened charges and that she wanted to resign. Management talked her into taking 2 wks off with pay to think about things and discuss options with her family. She came back to work and all seemed fine for about a week until she got her paycheck, which was for the her average work week (about 35hrs), not a full 40hrs. She got angry and left that day at lunch. She had a text conversation with the office lead and specifically said she didnt leave because of me, and asked the office lead to tell me this. I asked the office lead to text her back and say if she needed a letter of reference, I would give her a good one as I maintained she was a good employee, capable of many diverse tasks. I heard no more until last week as stated above.

    She will have no witnesses that say I did any physical act nor were any new text sent as I stated above... Am I still in a lot of trouble here. She still has the text saved that I sent her, but lied and said she never sent any to me when the records printed straight from the bill show she did.

    Help!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    16,079

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    Help!
    Time to lawyer up, Bub. She's fixin' to sue, and it's going to get UGLY. You say you offered to write her a letter of reference. If you served in a supervisory capacity over her, she can plausibly argue that she was afraid that if she didn't play along, she'd lose her job.

    It's also time to do a couple other things:

    1) Sit down with your wife and tell her EVERYTHING. Don't try to make it out to be your co-worker's fault, either. You're a grown adult, and you should understand that sexual behavior at work is both inappropriate AND a legal liability for yourself AND your employer.

    2) Get yourself into counseling. People who engage in sexual behavior at work are exhibiting extremely poor impulse control.

    3) Start looking for a new job, because if she pursues action against your employer, they will undoubtedly hang you out to dry.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    The business has retained legal services in this matter. I have typed up a statement as complete as possible with regard to all the happenings. On a side note, I am a doctor but have no authority to hire or fire anyone. I may be a supervisor, but only in the sense that I am lead in running the clinic on my days, no authority other than that. I am considered a salaried employee by my contract. Also, in the past I have asked her to stay on twice when she thought about quitting long before any of this went on. She thought about quitting because she was asked to do a different job due to other changes in staff. This was a year before any text or any other unprofessional conduct occurred. Also, no quid pro quo was ever discussed on any text of any sort.

    Does any of this help my case?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Massachusetts
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    17,624

    Default Re: Sending Sexual Text Messages to a Co-Worker

    None of it is even remotely relevant to your case.

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