LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Manview: What it feels like to be accused of sexual harassment

Male employee to female coworker of equal status: “Hey, I like your outfit today. It looks really cute on you.”

Is this sexual harassment?

Maybe so. Maybe not. It depends on where the woman’s head is at, right? She might be delighted that anyone noticed her new duds. She might be pleased someone found her cute. On the other hand, she might find it mildly unprofessional. Or she might feel objectified and be totally fucking outraged that the male coworker is looking at her body. She might even take it as a sexual come-on. And how she’d take the same comment might change from one day to the next depending on what else is going on in her life. And, of course, she might be happy to get the compliment from one male coworker and not so pleased to receive it from another.

This is why some people believe that men and women shouldn’t be allowed to work together. This week, I might just agree with that line of thinking.

Why? Because apparently something I said to someone at some point over the past 12 months so upset that person that they filed a grievance against me for the “use of sexually harassing language.” Mind you, no one bothered to tell me about it at the time. Whoever it was never spoke to me about it. No one in management ever asked me about her (or his, I suppose) allegation. But the human resources department at one of the organizations that I used to work for under contract dutifully filed the report away, and come contract renewal time it was decided that I was more out of control than Bob Filner, Anthony Weiner, Bob Packwood and the Boys from Tailhook combined, and they declined to rehire me.

Poof!  Five year’s work gone. No due process. No chance to respond. It’s not even she-said, he-said. I never got a say at all.

Now I confess: I have a foul mouth. Maybe that insulted someone. And I’m told that I flirt as easily as a breathe, without even really being aware that I’m doing it. Maybe someone took it the wrong way. I don’t know, but the whole incident has left me in a dark place

It’s ironic, in general, other men don’t like to spend time with me as they say I’m too much of a feminist. I love and respect women and enjoy their minds, their hearts, and their company. Most of my friends are women. I certainly don’t perceive myself as a sexually harassing kind of man. In fact, the thought horrifies me. Sexual harassment, as I always thought of it, is just one step away from rape.

Of course, it might be all smoke and mirrors. Maybe I didn’t say anything that upset anyone at all. Maybe one of those licensed people who has issues with people like me in healthcare saw a way to get my unlicensed ass out of the picture by knowing how the system works, and laid a cleaver trap.

I’ll never know, and I’m left not knowing if I’m a worse person than I perceive I am—or if I’m the victim of miscommunication, misperception, or character assassination. And I feel worse than awful about the fact that regardless of “facts,” there’s a possibility that I actually made some one feel harassed. I didn’t mean to harass anyone, but I realize that someone else’s reality may be different from mine. Like the example I started off with, I don’t consider a compliment to be a harassment—but the complementee may view it differently.

So I’m out a big piece of my family income without ever having the opportunity to defend myself. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that I can no longer do some of the work that I loved and excelled at because no one bothered to find out what this was about, to clarify it, find out the facts, and if necessary, make me aware of it so that if I was treating someone else in a way that made them uncomfortable I could go forward acting differently around them.

Or maybe that’s not the worst part, either.

No, the worst part is what this has done to my soul. I’ll never know what really happened. Now I’m questioning myself about what kind of person I really am, and how other people see me.

That’s the worst part.


Anonymous Kathleen Weaver said...

Man that sucks. Sorry

1:00 PM  
Blogger Bernard said...

Sorry Wil. Not being given a chance to hear what someone is accusing you of seems plain wrong. Guilty unless proven innocent, but you can't do the latter.

I wonder if they'll even notice what they've lost by not re-hiring you.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Scott E said...

This makes me so angry. I think you should start probing for answers. Ask anyone and everyone you know at that company for information. Not to get your job back - but to keep your sanity.

Then use that stellar reputation of yours to get a job at a place that provides insurance to cover an Asante Snap.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a crappy situation! All your friends and patients know that you're not "that guy". Don't let the bitterness block out the sunshine.


2:54 AM  
Blogger Penny said...

Wil, I am so very sorry this has happened to you. I tend to agree with Scott E - is there any way for you to get any answers at all to this situation? If so, persue it.

I don't know you 'in real life' but I know you here and what others tell me about you. You have a good soul. You care about people. You are a good man. That's who you are.

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Carol said...

So sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, as a contractor, your chances of fighting this are pretty much nil. I really don't understand why someone who is offended by something verbal, even if rightly so, can't use directness as their first line of "defense" before filing formal complaints and such. I had to do that once, early on in my career. It worked like a charm without involving anyone else or wrecking anyone's livelihood. The laws allow pretty much anyone in authority to be sued who knows of or even suspects that a "hostile work environment" is being created. So no one wants to take the chance. Self protection at the expense of doing what is right...a sign of the times. I'd chalk it up to that and move on after you process just how unfair it really is.

1:52 PM  
Blogger Jonah said...

That's really rotten Wil.

Chicago buses right now are running an ad that reads, "If it's unwanted, it's harassment" which I think is really problematic. It doesn't make sense to me that it can be "harassment" if the person doing the "harassing" has no way of knowing that it's unwanted.

I very much hope that this somehow turns into a good thing for you- that a better job turns up. You deserve it.

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will, I'm so sorry. BUT, I can't wait to see what you do next. You've been a constant inspiration, even during your hard times.

4:56 AM  
Blogger George said...

This sucks so bad Wil. I am so sorry.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Chin Angevine said...

It's as if you weren't able to defend yourself at all or even found out who accused you, and lost your job. And what's worse, you can't take legal action, as your accuser still remains unknown. While it is office policy, it still seems unfair on behalf of the accused.
Chin Angevine @

9:10 AM  

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