Friday, June 13, 2008

leave it to cleavage

earlier this week human resources informed my wife, through one of her female colleagues, that she is showcasing too much cleavage at the office. apparently some guy went to HR and said he was unable to concentrate in a meeting because he could not stop staring at my wife's breasts. this prompted the HR woman to enlist one of my wife's peers ,who is not her supervisor, to deliver the news.

the ripples of this have not completely settled yet, as my wife is naturally flustered and annoyed for a number of reasons, and i don't blame her. there are a few things about this matter that are not sitting well.

her chest happens to be pronounced these days due to the fact that she's breast feeding. (i enjoy this aspect, of course, but that's another story for my erotica blog.) still, she has not changed her style - classy and elegant - one bit since she joined the firm over a year ago and is suddenly being asked to do so because some guy can't keep his eyes off her breasts and goes so far as to dispense what can be construed as a lewd comment about her. by the way, they were gigantic during her pregnancy, but no one had concentration issues then. does my wife work in a bible camp or a religious setting? ummm, no.

the fact that the HR woman sent one of my wife's colleagues to deliver the news strikes me as inappropriate. this might add up if the HR director was a man. i am not knowledgeable in the ream of HR laws and policies, but i think any HR issue, especially one like this, should be handled with sensitivity and confidence. she should have approached my wife directly instead of threading someone else into this.

the whole thing seems circuitous and messy. some guy - the poor victim - makes a comment, so HR sends another woman to deliver the news and handle it. to me it's almost a watered down version of those terrible rape stories you hear about or see depicted in court dramas on television: well, she shouldn't have worn that sexy outfit. how could i restrain myself from tossing that roofie into her drink? i'm a man after all.

it's hard enough for her being a working mother in a global pr firm where the reward for hard work is more hard work, so, as you might imagine, to be billing in the neighborhood of 60 hours per week, getting thrown under the bus by people covering their own asses (life in a pr firm), catching this kind of hell from HR has found her near the end of her rope.

the situation will obviously not boil down to this, but one of our close friends is a partner in a big law firm's employment law practice. he makes a living raking large corporations over the coals for gigantic settlements. in jest, to lighten the mood of all this, i suggested that she contact him so we can score an early retirement in the name of her boobs. we could buy a place in the BVI, get a yacht, and name it "cleavage." how fantastic would that be?

yes, far fetched, but that won't stop me from rolling down the street to barneys to buy a few low cut items for her on my way home tonight.


Gilahi said...

Unbelievable. I can almost understand someone being so sexually frustrated that he would comment on someone else's dress, but the fact that the HR person actually told someone else about it is just unconscionable.

FWIW, it could be anything. I was once called into my manager's office and told that a certain turquoise ring that I was wearing "didn't look like it belonged with a business suit", and was asked to stop wearing it to the office. It wasn't gaudy, just apparently not fancy enough for the suits in my office.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Stories like this are more commonplace than we'd like to admit. I worked for a trade association here in town that thought my hairstyle--on the short side, but always neat and trimmed--wasn't conservative enough. Then I worked for a corporate lobbying firm where my boss engaged in what is termed unlawful harassment* but, when it was reported to HR, the person who did the reporting ended up out on the street.

What an unfortunate situation for your wife. As for the guy who reported her, perhaps he should have been told to find other things to look at. Perhaps your wife should file a counter-complaint and say that this guy is always staring at her and it makes her uncomfortable?

*And in her case, it really was. She flirted shamelessly and openly with the men who worked in or visited the office regardless of whether they were straight or gay and she shared confidential information about her employees amongst her staff and amongst the rest of the office. She was a nightmare!

heart said...

Public relations eh...shouldn't this be good for the company then? Doesn't sex sell?

Seems HR was needlessly trying to cover their butts (or cleavage..heh..heh).

Eliza said...

LOL at Heart's comment. Sex does sell.

But I do feel bad for your wife. What sort of a disgusting, insecure pig would do that? Someone who's jealous of your wife's talent at her job and wants to bring her down for anything he can, that's who.

And don't even get me started on HR...

Reluctant Grownup said...

i've always considered HR to be the best hideout job where one can fly under the radar and get by on very little production. at the very least, any HR pro should try to maintain a decent work environment, not stir the pot and make the vibe thorny. alas, in my wife's case, this woman seems unhappy with hiding out and chooses to share her apparent misery. not the first or last time...

Haole said...

I'm appalled...but at the same time, I'm not surprised. Leave it to HR to pull a spineless move like that and send a messenger to do their dirty work...weak! And don't even get me started on the guy who claimed he couldn't concentrate...what a punch-out!

Tell your wife that she can come work for me in employees don't wear shirts let alone tops with plunging necklines. The only way you'd get a message from HR here (via third party of course) is if you weren't showing enough skin.

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