The advice columnist known as Dear Abby is getting praise for pointing out to a closeted gay man being pressured to date a female co-worker that he is a victim of sexual harassment and is working in a hostile work environment.
Columnist Abigail Van Buren is really Jeanne Phillips who several years ago took over for the column’s founder, her mother Pauline Phillips. The column is the most widely syndicated in the world.
The 29-year-old man, who signed his letter ‘Can’t Come Out in Texas,’ writes in a letter published Tuesday (4 September) that a female colleague is not only trying to convince me that the two of us would make a good pair, but she has gotten all of their co-workers involved.
‘I’m constantly pressured by my supervisor to ‘just go out with her and give her a chance,” he writes.
The man said he has said he’s not interested in mixing business with pleasure but to no avail. He now dreads coming in to work and is considering hiring a girlfriend to stop by the office to take the pressure off.
Dear Abby does not focus on the man’s sexual orientation in her reply but instead calls what is happening to him ‘a classic example of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.’
‘Your co-workers and supervisor may consider themselves to be ‘Cupid’s helpers,’ but their actions could be the basis for a lawsuit,’ she writes. ‘That you are gay has nothing to do with it. If you were straight and preferred not to involve yourself in an office romance that could turn out badly, or felt no chemistry with your aggressor, what is being done to you is intolerable. It’s embarrassing and distracts you from your job.’
She advises the man to document everything, go to his supervisor’s boss if necessary and consider speaking to an attorney if necessary.
‘You do not have to explain why you’re not attracted to this desperate woman,’ she writes.