|Seeing top HN link about sexual harassment in SV https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14673777 and my recent experience facilitated this posting.|
I will try my best to keep this post brief, so please ask in the comments about details I left out.
Swift action has been taken against me by management, due to an accusation by an anonymous female co-worker. All management could tell me is that I made this person "feel uncomfortable", I am guessing in a sexual way. My desk was moved across the building away from where my immediate co-workers sit, and I was told to be not talk to women at the office unless absolutely necessary regarding business matters.
The extent of my non-work-related conversation with female employees has been saying hello/goodbye and making small talk on occasion (How long have you been with the company? Do you have travel plans for this summer? Are you doing anything fun this weekend?) I realize some of these questions could be viewed as hitting on someone, but that was not my intention, and believe that question was cleared up once they responded to me that they were going to see their boyfriend/girlfriend.
I am a male in my mid-20s on an internship ending in a few months. (The company has told me they do not have the budget to hire me full-time or extend my internship.) In the grand scheme of things, I understand this is small potatoes. But what has kept me up at night is the worry that I could be accused of sexual harassment or rape in the future leading to job loss or criminal charges.
I am frankly quite scared of talking to or approaching any women in my office, even for a work-related purpose. This is not a good long-term strategy, and I am not sure how to proceed. I would love your thoughts or advice on this topic. Thanks in advance!