Forewarned is forearmed: Train all management to handle harassment issues
“One is never too old to yearn” goes the charming Italian proverb — as long as you keep such thoughts concealed. In today’s workplace, open unrequited love is a recipe for a rapid descent into unemployment.
Ralph Watkins, at 61, had worked for nearly 13 years as the superintendent of Willow Park Golf Course in Calgary when he became infatuated with Andrea Li, 32 years his junior. He promoted her into a newly created position of Assistant Superintendent, awarded her a pay increase, granted her a choice parking space next to his, and allowed her to arrive late every day.
While Watkins had the authority to confer these perks, it did not go unnoticed and inevitably generated resentment among her peers. But Watkins pressed on. He made it clear to Li and to other staff that he was in love with her and wanted a relationship.
Li would have no part of it. She repeatedly rebuffed Watkins; she was blunt that she only wanted a professional relationship and had no interest in him.
Watkins’s initial pattern was to express respect for her feelings only to push on with drunken texts in the middle of the night professing his love and making enquiries about whether she watched pornography.
When it became obvious that he was getting nowhere, his attitude changed dramatically. Watkins became loud and aggressive on a daily basis and directed profane and sexist comments towards Li. The relationship became so disruptive that staff complained to the management committee of the board.