Inappropriate Opposite Gender Interactions in the Workplace

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    How best to safeguard against inappropriate interactions with the opposite gender in the Workplace? What safeguards must be looked out for? What pitfalls must one be wary of and guard against?


    Read the gr8 book dealing with every detail of your question called 9 to 5.It’s in the Judaica stores.


    Here are some excerpts from HaRav Neiman, that may be useful to readers of this thread:

    It is forbidden to make small talk about matters unrelated to business. Men and women working together should not discuss politics, current events, recent tragedies or gossip, even if they do not do so regularly. Discussing these matters on a daily basis, is a violation of halachos that border on giluy arayos, which requires one to sacrifice his life rather than transgress. (p. 9)

    When conversing with female employees or co-workers, one must be careful not to us the word “we,” so that the man and woman are not referred to as one unit. For example, one should not say, “We must talk with the editor,” or “We must purchase that software program.” Rather, he should say, “The editor must be consulted,” or “Please purchase that program.” (pp. 10-11)

    It is a custom amongst yirei shomayim not to call a woman other than one’s wife or immediate family member by her first name, thus keeping a respectful distance between the two parties. Referring to a woman by her first name brings inappropriate familiarity into the relationship. Similarly, a woman should refrain from addressing a man other than her husband or immediate family member by his first name. (p. 20)

    A Helpful Suggestion:

    It is appropriate for male and female employees [to] refrain from all conversation when they meet anywhere outside of the office. This includes not discussing even job-related matters when meeting in the hallway or elevator at work.

    “It cannot be stressed enough that the term prutzim also refers to people who are otherwise shomrei Torah u’mitzvos, but are not careful in matters relating to kraivah l’arayos. They may be regularly exposed to immodesty through the media, or may often be in the presence of immoral individuals through their everyday social interactions….(p.39) meaning that they are exposed to immodesty through television, movies, in publications and the like. An individual involved in such activities is labeled a parutz. This is not limited to visual images; someone who is exposed to any form of indecent activity, such as chat rooms on the Internet, is considered a parutz. Such forms of recreation are a breach of morality.” (p. 34)


    Try to refrain from first name calling


    Use some common sense.

    Ma Chovaso

    In the workplace? What about in the CR?!


    Its really not pashut.

    Its not something u often hear spoken about. But, the fact is that there are plenty of fine BY maidels/yeshiva guys that come from wonderful families, top schools and are simply not prepared for what they encounter in mixed offices. Unfortunately, they loose their sensitivity to things they were previously very careful about and their standards drop….


    i agree with jams 100%….because i am a living example :)!!!

    Aishes Chayil

    Are these halochos equally applicable to non Jewish collegues as to Jewish?


    Yes, of course. (Applicable to a Jews interactions with an opposite gender non-Jew.)

    Aishes Chayil

    What about with an opposite gender Jew, ? Less wrong, more wrong, equal, what?


    What does “more wrong” mean? Kraivah l’arayos is always one of the worst of the worst.


    Following the guidelines quoted spells a disaster for frum Jews in the workplace. The fact is that in the 21st century, co-workers, never refer to one another as “Mr” or “Mrs” or “Ms.” I can definitely say that if I were to insist that my secretary call me “Mr. Cantoresq” and I were to call her “Mrs. Secretary” she would, at best think me laughable, and at worst a standoffish, insufferable fop and snob. Such a relationship with someone I entirely depend on to do my job is simply untenable. Perhaps such standards can be implemented in offices were everyone is frum and subscribes to the same Halachik standards of modesty. But that is not the overwhelming majority of work places. Indeed workplace modesty is important. But of at least equal importance is the need to avoid giving the impression that Orthodox Jews look down upon and disdain other people, or that Orthodox Judaism is misogynistic. (Remember our non-Jewish colleagues have not learned all about the beauty and respect for women tzniut is supposed to represent. They don’t get see us show out wives the highest levels of respect and deference. All they will see is an aloof man in a yarmulke who refuses to show them the basic respect of referring to them by name) As a general matter though, I avoid closed door meetings alone with my secretary, even though her husband works in the office next to mine. I do that in order to avoid closed door meetings with other women in the office. I have explained that I don’t like those closed door meetings in light of the laws of Yichud, and people respect it. I’m generally no longer a gossip (I used to be, but I’ve simply lost interest) and thus aside from the occasional joke I might tell I don’t participate in the office banter.

    not I

    I would think that to call someone by their title instead of their first name would actually come across more professional than not!

    I used to work in a an office with a large amount of both men and women. As soon as I was hired I was told I would be called Miss.. It ends up being the most helpful for everyone.

    The next job. my boss calls me by my first name and in the beginong I was uncomfortable about it.. Unfortunately it doesn’t bother me so much anymore..


    Dear not I,

    Don’t let it make you uncomfortable, there’s nothing wrong with it. There was a time when last names didn’t exist.


    I always wondered why so many women were named her-na.

    Aishes Chayil

    Trying my best,

    Is there not a diffenrece between a Jewish man’s interaction with a married Jewish woman thant with a Non Jewish woman?

    I mean in the times of the Sanhedrin, a man who took a Jewish married woman was dealt with more harshly (death) than if he took a non Jewish woman.


    I dont know if it makes a difference halachicly, but due to the massive difference in what is considered appropriate behavior and not appropriate behavior among genders/sexes (I dont want to offend anyone by misusing either word) between jews and non jews, certain behaviors by a jew will not be viewed as “holy” by a non jew but rather irresponsible and even disrespectful or rude. To a goy, there is nothing “arayos” with calling someone by their own name and is considered rude and disrespectful if you dont use their name in many instances. Use your seichel and when in doubt consult a Rav.

    On the topic of calling someone by their name, even some non jews recognize the feeling of “personalness” (for lack of a better word) created when calling someone by their name. Dale Carnegie in his lectures and his books writes how the nicest sounding word in any language to every person, is the sound of their own name. He uses this idea in a number of contexts.


    My first day on my first job out of kollel, the woman sitting behind me, in a show of friendship was asking me about my family. I mentioned I was married with children. She looked at my hands and saw no ring. I explained that many Orthodox Jewish men do not wear a wedding band. Her reaction caught me off guard. “No ring”, she exclaimed, “how do you keep yourself from getting into trouble?”. It took me a while to really understand the bewilderment expressed in her question.


    Has HaRav Shmuel Neiman ever worked in “The Workplace”? Most work gets done outside offices; its called a cubicle. (not my line, but a good one). 😉

    I, for one, agree with cantoresq.

    Just want to add if you are upfront with people that you will not touch them for religous reasons, they will be careful not to offend YOUR sensibilities and will avoid trying to cause you problems.


    there is a book called “nine to five” it eplains everything about work and how to treat your workers and how to talk to workmates male or female it’s worth reading(if your working). good luck and enjoy it.


    APY: That’s a good line ( “No ring”, she exclaimed, “how do you keep yourself from getting into trouble?”) and the (mental/non-verbal) response has to be awesome. Difference between us and them.



    i know someone who was working in an office for a particular organization. all frum people including her boss. She left after about a year simply because of this. Her boss didn’t realize that a lot of stuff was quite frankly inappropriate (although he couldve been her father, it makes no difference)She kept strong boundaries and a distance but he didn’t get the message. Another very important thing, DO NOT CALL ANYONE BY THEIR FIRST NAME. it seems insignificant yet it sets a very important boundary. THe sad part is that in my friends story, her boss was a very frum person…


    One thing one can always do is put a wedding photo on your desk. Anyone that puts their wedding photo on their desk is sending a message immediately to everyone “I am happily married so don’t mess with me”. In addition always keep your distance. If someone comes in too close take a step back and say “its nothing personal but my religion teaches mean to maintain my personal space. Even if people call you by your first name, make a point of maintaing formality and calling them Mr. or Mrs.”

    If they try to engage you in personal conversations don’t get dragged in, just say “I am a private person and my wife and I agreed to keep our private life private, it safeguards our most precious relationship”

    Obviously these things work for both men and women. And since we are frum, we explain to our bosses and co-workers that we can’t touch the opposite sex other than our spouses and children.



    Realize that not all “Frum” workplaces have Torah/Yeraim Jews running them. A cousin of mine had a similar problem (boss hit on her consistently, and they were both married) in a very “Heimish” office. She ended up leaving rather than continue in that job.


    I have many workers and never really had a problem.

    although i once posed this question to a rav and he said “I don’t know”

    question, male and female have to finish project together, working together in office is yichud, going to starbucks, or dinner, highly inappropriate. what does he do?


    CN: Invite an additional co-worker (either gender) on the project to join, so it becomes more businesslike.

    I have not had a problem with it.


    I have found it “safest” to always move in groups. Business lunch, trip, working late. Always in a group, never one on one. Its not too difficult, at least where I work, to make it happen.


    A place that is generally run by frum people may be different, but in most of corporate America, EVERYONE calls everyone else by their first names. In my firm that has 10,000 people nationwide, there is noone, from secretaries or phone operators and up who call the managing partner or anyone in between, by a title. Calling someone by their first name is no longer necessarily a sense of closeness, rather it is something that everyone does, regardless of whether you know the person or not.


    I have never found that anyone objects to being addressed as “Mr.” or “Ms.” or “Mrs.” in the work-place. Those terms are called “honorifics” for a reason – they show respect. Admittedly, some people will think it a little odd at first, but after a while, they accept your courtesy and even grow to like it.

    The only time I can remember an objection to the form of address of honorific plus last name was when I was in the 8th grade, in a public school, and some students objected to the science teacher’s formality of using “Mr. Luckman” or “Miss Fox.” (This was before anyone thought of using “Ms.” as an honorific.) Of course, 8th graders are adolescents and resist being treated like, or behaving as, adults.


    gavra, i realize that, the crazy thing is that they are both not jsut “frum” but very very frum. He couldve been her father and made very ummm __________ comments. (you know what i mean) He aslo would get very close to her physically (to show something to her etc.) and she would back off… She didn’t laugh at his “jokes”… he never got the message so she left. SHe couldn’t ask to be called Miss/mrs_____ since he was her boss and byt he time she cahpped this was also a problem it would’ve been awkward to say something.

    Unfortunately lately this has become an issue, even amongst “very”

    frum people


    LBK, in that case you can just say Mr. Bob, Miss Lilly. That already differentiates you from the standard. If automatically makes you a little more formal.


    i dont understand the question, where i come from there is only one gender in the workplace- women, all the men are learning in kollel.


    Some years ago I was given a copy of that book. I think I got about 5 pages into it before I realized that the writer had clearly never been in a modern office, and definitely not in high tech. If I were to follow the instructions in that book I would probably never work again.

    And I have to say at my workplace I don’t even know half my co worker’s last names. (And no one is called “Mr” or Mrs or whatever)


    “Unfortunately lately this has become an issue, even amongst “very”

    frum people”—

    sof davar — is this really happening amongst FRUM people in frum workplaces??


    justsmiles613,yes, its a really painful discovery, but that “friend” who quite was really me. and yes, it was a very very “frum” boss who just didn’t chap boundaries. (for those of you who remember, i came on with a thread “quitting! Help” or something to that effect)

    now i really hope no one who worked there or my boss will find out the true reason for quitting. (it was the main reason, there were a few others though)


    just to make it clear, i realized that he simply didn’t realize that it was inappropriate. To him, he was just kibbitzing…


    ilovetorah, i wish life were so simple. where DO you come from ? even in Lakewood there are mixed offices. (i have a friend who works in one and she said b”h its very appropriate. everyone has titles Mr./Mrs./Miss


    The suggestion of having a picture of your family on your desk is a good one if you want everyone to know you are married. It could be a wedding picture of just a nice photo of the whole family.


    I had to quit a job once because my boss couldn’t keep his hands off of me. It wasn’t what would be concerned inappropriate to the general public–he used to tap me on the hand or the shoulder a few times a day. He knew that it bothered me and promised me he would stop, but it went on and on until I felt I couldn’t stay. He also used to talk to me about very personal aspects of his life which I had no interest in hearing about.


    Have your husband in the photo dressed like a cop(with a donut in his hand).That should scare ’em.




    Don’t shower for weeks at a time.


    I have my shvigger as my legal secretary and office manager. She keeps everybody in line.


    Joseph, why are you bumping your old threads? This was one you started with a question, then posted some answers with a different screen name of yours. Classy.


    Thanks for the bump, DM! 🙂


    what happens between a boss & workers? he shouldn’t call them by their first names? wouldn’t you be insulted if I called you man or lady come to my office in 5 minutes versus saying your first name?


    “Mr. Cohen” or “Mrs. Berger” are fine.


    and what about a caterer with his staff & chefs of goyim? they don’t call each other by last names. they are close to each other but only during work of course

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