Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Co-worker Won’t Stop Talking About Sex

I have this annoying co-worker, who over the years has shared too much information about his personal life. For the most part he’s harmless, but when he starts talking about his sex life I get uncomfortable. 

Early on when he began working for our company, he would look me up and down then ask me my dress size, overly compliment my wardrobe then tell me stories about how his wife wouldn’t have sex with him. One day when he started telling me about a dream he’d had about me the night before I lost it. I cut him off mid-sentence, rudely told him I didn’t want to hear about his dream, that I didn’t want him to ask me my dress size anymore and to stop talking to me about his sex life. I also told him some women would consider these actions sexual harassment. Looking back, his dream may not have been sexual, but at the time I didn’t want to risk hearing about it.

My co-worker didn’t talk to me again for almost a year which didn’t bother me a bit. Then slowly he began initiating conversation and before I knew it he was back to talking about sex again. Recently he’s added sexual jokes and comments about other employee’s sex lives to his topics of conversation.

At a recent going away party this employee made a joke about our President’s sex life in front of everyone including our President’s 70-year old father and our human resource manager. No one acknowledged the joke or laughed. Instead, someone quickly changed the subject.

It baffles me that no one sits this employee down and tells him to knock it off. Not only does he talk about sex with me, but when he thinks he has a funny story or joke he walks around the office sharing it with everyone.

Friday morning he was at it again, making the rounds telling his latest joke about our President’s sex life when I decided I’d had enough. I turned to him and said, “Fred, this isn’t appropriate conversation for the workplace.” He looked at me and repeated my comment, “This isn’t appropriate conversation for the workplace?” I think he got my message, but I’m sure he will be back at it in a few weeks. I’ve decided from now on every time I hear him talking about sex I’m going to repeat my previous comment or tell him he is being unprofessional.

And for those of you who talk about sex at work:

Doing so diminishes your credibility. This goes for women too:
There is this story about one of our female employees who traveled with a male co-worker to an out of state conference many years ago. According to the male co-worker, she talked about her favorite sexual positions the entire length of the trip. To this day, when this female employee’s name comes up for promotion her male co-worker who is now a VP shares this story along with his opinion this employee is not professional.

Not everyone will find your joke funny:
Not everyone has the same sense of humor. When you joke or talk about sex you always run the risk of offending someone. Plus, someone who laughed at your jokes last week may for no obvious reason find them offensive or not funny this week. I once worked with a guy who liked to tell a couple of his female co-workers he’d like to see their lips around a Pepsi bottle or a banana. Sure enough, he made this comment to a new temporary employee and she reported him to HR for sexual harassment.

You are a disruption:
Your jokes and stories are unproductive and disruptive. They stop work- flow and provide fodder for employee gossip. See next topic:

You are drawing unwanted attention to your appearance:
When talking about your sex life you may be providing a visual image to your co-workers they do not want to see. Let’s face it you may not actually be a “ten” and your co-workers may find these visual images repulsive.

Do your career a favor and remember conversations about sex are not appropriate for the workplace.

Have you had a co-worker who talked about sex in the workplace? How did you handle it?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:

Talk of Doom and Gloom in the Workplace Upsets Co-worker (Can you guess who this post is about?)

Should Employee Report Sexual Harassment?

Using Humor During Phone Interview


  1. The next time it happens go directly to the HR director and complain. Tell him/her exactly what you said above, that you have repeatedly told this guy to put a sock in it and that he continues to tell sexual stories and jokes. AND, that you consider it a hostile workplace and want it to stop. You will be doing yourself, your co-workers and humanity in general a big favor! Seriously.

  2. Holy sh!t. I can't believe you didn't take it to HR. Anything having to do with the topic of sex should be 100 percent forbidden in this day and age of sexual harassment. Even if he didn't mean any harm and no one took offense, the potential for offense is there. I would NOT wait for him to get your message but go to HR and let them know that you feel it is inappropriate. They can take it from there.

  3. Ew.. how classless. I've found that guys who talk about sex with such frequency are often over elaborating, making it up and/or compensating for where he lacks. So gross. He should keep that to himself.

    Following you on Google Plus and twitter my dear!! Thank you for linking up with the Aloha Friday Blog Hop!!


  4. As a HR Manager, I've had several women call me for advice because of unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature which made them feel humiliated, intimidated or offended.

    Off colour jokes falls under sexual harassment. It is an unacceptable form of behaviour which should not be tolerated under any circumstance. It is also unlawful.

    Employees must be encouraged to report all complaints of sexual harassment which then can be treated seriously and promptly, with due regard to confidentiality. Disciplinary action must be taken against any employee who breaches the company's sexual harassment policy.

    The problem is no one wants to rock the boat whether it is sexual harassment or workplace violence. And that is such a shame because everyone has the right to be treated fairly and equitably in a work environment free of intimidation and sexual harassment.

    In my opinion. Darlene

  5. That's just horrible. It's definitely harassment! I don't mind jokes between friends, but as you say, it's completely unprofessional from a colleague.

  6. I agree with the others. It needs to be taken to HR.

  7. I've had to go through so many mandatory HR training sessions through the years since I work for a large corporation. This is totally sexual harassment. Not an appropriate topic for the workplace, and I am surprised he wouldn't know that.

  8. I work in a hot yoga studio. The topic of sex seems to come up pretty often and quite naturally. But, everyone's already half naked all the time in a hot yoga studio, so you know, it'll happen.

    Happy Sharefest!

  9. OMG! I work with a woman like this and it's disgusting! She gives WAY too much information to people she shouldn't and it's disgusting. I also think it's degrading to her husband.

    I love my husband very much and I feel like talking about your sex life is a slap in the face to your spouse.

    Is there a way you can just go to HR and make a complaint, even if it's anonymous?

    FYI: Visiting from the I love my Post blog hop. :-)

  10. I agree. Report him. Maybe that way he can actually be taught appropriate behavior.

    Happy Sharefest. I hope you have a lovely weekend.

  11. So true! I have a coworker that loves to tell stories about going to Mardi Gras and his wife "earning" her beads. He also tried to tell me about how they landscaped their backyard for more privacy for skinny dipping. Seriously. As if I want to hear any of it. I need to be brave like you and tell him to shut up next time!

  12. Webb, Michelle, Darlene, Rachel, Kristiina, Kerry, Miss Robin and to anyone else I may have missed.

    Thank you for setting me straight on this one. Darlene said it best:

    "Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and equitably in a work environment free of intimidation and sexual harassment."

    I need to protect my co-workers even if this guy ends up being fired. Which he probably will be -he's been on the edge for awhile.

  13. What Jean Likes,
    He is definitely compensating for what he is lacking. Following you back - thanks for stopping in.

  14. ClassicNYer,
    I agree talking about sex is more prevalent in casual environments. I think this guy would be inappropriate in any situation though - he just wouldn't get away with it as long in a more corporate environment.

  15. Lisa,
    I like your idea of contacting HR anonymously for those that don't want to do so publically. Though they may not be able to do much without a name.

  16. a happier girl,
    You can do it girl - you will be much happier in the long run. My co-worker was actually professional this week. I hope it lasts.

  17. I had a coworker that talked about it a lot. I was around 17 so I didn't no any better he was an older guy around 30 at first I thought it was cute but then he started getting a bit more direct. I told another lady co worker of mines and she alerted the HR department afterwards other workers young and old started coming forward. It's sad when you can't work in peace.

  18. Kita,
    I agree and when employees are young they may not know what is and is not appropriate behaviour. I guess that is why we have sexual harassment laws. Good for you for letting a co-worker know and for her for reporting it.

  19. My jaw is on the ground. I can't believe that this guy is doing this. Maybe I can't believe that he's been allowed to do this for so long.

    I don't think it's your responsibility to report him to HR (although a great idea), however, he is most likely doing it to some one else that might not have your voice.

    So sorry to read that you're in this situation in the first place.

    Thanks for following me via BlogLovin. I'm a new follower of yours via BlogLovin. Thanks for linking up to this weeks BlogLovin Hop at Journeys of The Zoo ( Looking forward to connecting further.

    Besos, Sarah
    Blogger at Journeys of The Zoo
    Finding Humour in Everyday Life
    journeysofthezoo at hotmail dot co

  20. Journeys of the Zoo,
    I casually mentioned this conversation to my HR Manager last week. You should have seen how large her eyes got. She said she had no idea. We'll see where it goes.

  21. Anonymous5:23 PM

    My gay co-worker constantly talks about his sex life and his newest conquests. I don't feel sexually threated but I don't want to hear about it. Do you consider this sexual harassment?

  22. Anonymous,
    Yes this most likely is sexual harrassment. Please talk to your manager or HR department.

  23. Anonymous9:06 AM

    Okay so I'm having an issue at the moment. I work in a very small workplace with only women where I am the manager. Our oldest employee (29) has been describing her sex life in GRAPHIC detail to my youngest employee (15). I have NO idea how to handle this. I've already rang my area manager and he's getting onto HR about it.

    1. I answered your question in this post: