October 29, 2023 at 4:52 am

‘He starts sending me outrageously inappropriate IMs.’ The Office Creep Keeps Getting Away With Bed Behavior, So This Woman Sets A Trap And Gets Pro Revenge

by Matthew Gilligan

Source: Reddit/AITA/Unsplash/@dreiimos

Never pick on the underdog…

I mean, come on people, didn’t you ever see Rocky?!?!

That should be enough of a life lesson for all of us!

But you know how people are…

A Reddit user wrote a story on the website’s “Pro Revenge” page where they talked about what went down at their job.

It seems like everything was going swimmingly.

You picked on the wrong underdog, guy.

“A few years ago, I was working in a job I really enjoyed with a team I really gelled well with. There were about five of us working on the same portfolio of projects in different roles, and every single team member was just cream-of-the-crop, incredibly good at what they do.

I can’t overemphasize how satisfying it was to work with such an incredibly competent, likable group of people. In this job, instead of getting the Sunday night blues, I would get excited thinking about the work I would be doing the next day and planning how we would solve the complex problems together. It was like a series of logic puzzles. (Yes, I realize I’m a huge nerd. I promise I also had a life outside of work.)

But there was one co-worker who they were not a fan of…

The one downside (there’s always a downside) to this job was Steve.

Steve was not in the supervisory line for me or any of my team members, but he was about three levels above us and very senior. He’d been there for years and was tight with senior leadership. Steve was also a mega-creep.

He said extremely inappropriate things to young women in the office, and he apparently wasn’t averse to being handsy, though as far as anyone knew, that was as bad as it had gotten. The women in the office all knew to steer clear of him.

My first week on the job, the whisper network made sure I knew: never be alone with Steve. Harassment is difficult to document, and no one wanted to risk their career and put a target on their back going after a big guy like Steve, so he just got away with it for years.

This went on for quite a while until this Steve character decided to start picking on a particular employee.

So for a couple of years, I followed this advice. There were a few instances of Steve saying incredibly uncomfortable things to me in passing, but for the most part, I managed to avoid him.

Then I found out that my teammate Rob had gotten on Steve’s radar. For context, Rob is non-neurotypical and has some minor tic-ish behavior. He’s also shy and easily spirals into social anxiety when put in uncomfortable situations.

So one evening at our team’s informal weekly happy hour after work, Rob lets it slip that Steve’s been giving him a hard time. The rest of us are like, “whoa, wait, what?” because Steve never interacts with staff at our level, except to creep on women, and we basically make Rob tell us everything.

Basically for the last few weeks, Steve has been bullying Rob, making fun of his tics, and mimicking his way of speaking back to him. He’s also been asking Rob how he can possibly be competent to do his job and implying he’s a pity hire.

Once he called him a word that rhymes with petard.

This person and their co-workers were incredibly unhappy with this behavior and they decided that some revenge against Steve was in order.

It’s clear Steve is seeking out Rob for this, because, again, there’s really no reason for him to interact with our team. Rob has been having horrible anxiety over this situation, and has had bad insomnia and stomach issues since Steve started targeting him. And not that it bears repeating, but just to reiterate, Rob is a beast at his job. And a genuinely good guy.

At this point, I’m seeing red. (We all were.) We tell Rob to go to HR, that his neurological issues put him in a protected ADA class, that he could get Steve in big trouble. Rob panics and says he can’t do that, begs us not to tell anyone at work, and says he wishes he hadn’t said anything. We assure him we won’t say anything if that’s what he wants, but we’re all very distressed.

I leave the bar fuming just thinking, OK, that’s it. **** you, Steve. You’re going down.

So they got started…

I can’t tell anyone about what’s happening to Rob, because I promised him as much, so I start my own paper trail. I start baiting Steve. And I don’t mean I behave in any suggestive manner or lead him on: I just stop avoiding him, and I even initiate contact myself.

I IM him through the company’s IM system very professionally/politely asking if a big client will be staying on through the next project cycle, and the floodgates open. He starts sending me outrageously inappropriate IMs.

I mostly don’t respond, but I occasionally keep him going by sending extremely literal responses to his innuendo-laden questions or pretending not to understand something suggestive he’s saying. Sometimes when he clarifies, I’ll outright say, “This isn’t appropriate” or “this is making me uncomfortable,” or “please don’t say things like that, Steve,” but he steamrolls right over me.

During this time, I’ve also been seeing him more in person around the office, and he often says gross stuff to me in person as well, a lot of it not just inappropriate, but bizarre and nonsensical (“Is it legal to have a jerk like that in that skirt?” Lolwut?) Every time this happens, I immediately go back to my desk and write down what he said, the date and time, and the names of any witnesses.

And then it was time to go talk to Human Resources.

Uh oh!

After about a month and change of this, I compile my creep journal with printouts of the IM conversations and take them to my HR rep. I ask to file a harassment complaint against Steve.

As soon as the words “SH” leave my mouth, my rep instantly gets the head of HR and two other reps, and they go through my evidence with me, and ask me a ton of questions. The head of HR assures me they’ll take my complaints very seriously, and asks if I know of any women around the office who have had similar issues with Steve. I’m able to give them several names.

They send me on my way, and two weeks later, my rep formally reaches out to me and lets me know Steve has been let go. Much jubilation is had around the office!

And, even though Steve was now gone, that wasn’t the end of the story.

It took a couple of months for me to piece together the whole story, but basically after my complaint, HR started following up with the names I gave them, both the witnesses to my in-person encounters with Steve, and the other women he’d harassed.

They corroborated what I’d told HR, and then through them, word started spreading around the office that HR was conducting a harassment investigation against Steve. This emboldened at least 15 different women who’d been biting their tongues about Steve for ages to come forward and tell their own Steve stories.

During all of this, IT had been asked to go through Steve’s emails and IMs, and this had not only been used to validate my print outs as legitimate, but IT had found a ton of additional incriminating stuff in Steve’s correspondences.

And it doesn’t sound like Steve will have a whole lot of luck in the workforce in the future.

Somewhat frustrating: Steve received an extremely generous severance package as part of his termination. But on the bright side, word got around the industry quickly, and Steve was poison at that point. No company would touch him with a 10-foot pole.

The last time I thought to snoop on his public social media pages, he was listing himself as an “independent consultant” in our industry, which I seriously doubt he’s actually doing, and based on his public Facebook page, he’s doing a couple of MLMs, so that should kill off whatever savings he has in short order.

I don’t work with Rob anymore, but I did recently attend his wedding! He’s extremely happy with his new wife (who is a sweet and lovely woman) and he’s doing really well in his career.”

Here’s what folks had to say.

This reader said they did the right thing.


Source: Reddit/AITA

Another individual talked about why HR is really there…

Source: Reddit/AITA

This person thinks they know what really happened.

Source: Reddit/AITA

One Reddit user believes this was all about a lawsuit.

Source: Reddit/AITA

And this person said that evidence is key when it comes to situations like this.

Source: Reddit/AITA

We hope you learned a lesson today!

Remember to never bet on the underdog!