22 Appallingly Inappropriate Things People Have Had To Deal With At Work

    "Everyone heard, and no one said anything."

    Note: This post contains mentions of sexual harassment, childhood sexual abuse, and racism.

    Recently, the Investigation Discovery docuseries Quiet on Set, which explored the dark side of several beloved Nickelodeon shows, has been stirring up conversation about toxic workplaces where inappropriate conduct goes unpunished. So members of the BuzzFeed Community shared their stories about the worst on-the-job behavior they've witnessed. Here's what they had to say:

    1. "When I worked in food service as a teenager, my male coworkers made 'jokes' about slapping me and my female coworkers with their penises when we made mistakes. My younger self laughed it off uncomfortably, but my current self? I want to make them walk over Legos barefoot and tell their moms everything they said and did."

    Chef in a professional kitchen cooking on a stove with multiple pots

    2. "I returned to work after having a baby, and a male coworker referred to the office I pumped in as my 'nipple nook.' Everyone heard, and no one said anything. This went on for nine months."

    —Brenna, 30

    3. "The story is far, far too long for this format, but in short, the (55, male) owner of the business started dating the (21, female) receptionist. As their relationship developed/devolved (both had some pretty serious issues), it caused a lot of problems at the company. My final straw was when I (30, male) logged into the company’s Dropbox account and found literally dozens of naked and lingerie pictures of the former receptionist, as well as a bunch of FULL PENETRATION pictures taken from his perspective."

    "When I confronted him about it, his first words were, 'Help me delete them.' He also told me, 'We’ve all been in a locker room. You know what a dick looks like,' and that I should just forget it happened. He was surprised that I quit instead."


    4. "Back when I was young and not too experienced with the world, I had an older coworker who would hug the younger female employees and certain younger regular female customers. He made it out to be in a fatherly way. This went on for all the years I worked there. Then eventually he retired but would come in to say hello. I went in the back to get something, and he followed me. I didn't think much of it, since he had worked there for so many years and knew where everything was. What do you know? He grabbed my ass. Yep, that made me feel beyond gross and dirty knowing that for all those years, he was just a pervert."

    Older man cornering a young woman in an office

    5. "A couple of months after I started working with my (significantly) younger boss, he decided to ask me out on a date. I was mortified!! In a panic, I said yes, but then when I got home, all I could think about was, I DON'T wanna go on a date with him. So I sent him a message saying that I thought it would be better if we didn't go and that we could maintain our professional relationship the way it was. Well, months went by, I started dating someone, and after the company Christmas dinner (where I went with my new boyfriend), things just escalated."

    "I started receiving the cold shoulder from my boss. A few weeks after the dinner, I found out that I was pregnant, so I decided to tell him because I would probably need to leave work several times to go to the doctor. Let me tell you that IT WAS HELL. I was stressed out of my mind; everything I did from that point on was always wrong, and everything that happened was somehow my fault.

    "The last few weeks have been better, but only because I believe someone from our accountant's office told him that at this point in my pregnancy, I was able to just ask for medical leave, and if I do that now, he would have no one to replace me at my functions, because no one else does what I do. 

    "Oh, and I also found out that he's actively interviewing people to replace me, BUT he does this completely behind my back and without my knowledge (I'm from HR, so I think it's part of my job to know these things). In conclusion, he got mad that I dumped him, and he is probably jealous of my boyfriend. The news of the pregnancy just put the icing on the cake for him. With all this, I think that I will be let go from my job as soon as my contract ends, and it just goes to show how pregnant women (and women in general!) are treated by male bosses who don't know how to deal with rejection."


    6. "I’m Latina. I worked as a child protective services worker. I was the only Spanish-speaking worker. My caseload was triple because I'm bilingual. My boss said not to whine about my high caseload because my people like to procreate instead of going to college."

    —Aracely, 44

    7. "My boss at the time, out of nowhere during a shift, vividly described a dream they had where they used a sex swing with their wife as my husband and I watched. Not too much longer after that, they invited us to dinner. I realized what they were after and declined. I quit two weeks later."

    Post-it note with "I Quit!" handwritten, placed on a computer keyboard, indicating resignation

    8. "When I was 21, at my first job out of college, my boss changed my hours so I was the last person in the office with him each night. He used to write dirty notes and jokes to me on pads that had company letterhead, crumpled them, and threw them out. I would go through the garbage and save them. One night, he cornered me and tried to kiss me. I ran out and never went back. I sued him and settled for $150,000. I moved back to my old neighborhood and see him all the time now. My stomach turns every time I see his face."

    —Anonymous, 39

    9. "I've spent nearly two decades working in the restaurant business, which is rife with inappropriate behavior, but one particular job takes the cake. First of all, everyone who worked at this restaurant was a mess, and most of us were drunk and/or high during every shift, which the owner knew but turned a blind eye to. People would bring edibles to share with everyone (during work), we'd go get drunk on our breaks, and we'd meet up behind the dumpster during shifts to smoke dabs. But things got really bad when we hired 'Joe,' the new GM."

    "Joe was a very charming narcissist who seemed to take great pleasure in sowing seeds of chaos everywhere he went. Within six months of starting there, he had seduced two servers — gross enough on its own, but he was married, to boot. Girl A was struggling with addiction and mental health issues, and Girl B was married, pregnant, and suspected of stealing weed and prescription drugs from our coworkers' bags and money from the register. 

    "Anyway, when Girl A found out about Girl B, she got revenge by getting Girl B's husband's phone number from her emergency contact info in her file and sent him a text from a fake number to tell him about the affair. Girl B's husband immediately made her quit the job, and she had to move back in with her family in another state for a while. 

    "Joe then went around the restaurant trying to bribe his employees to drive 24-plus hours round trip to go 'rescue' Girl B. When this didn't work, he spent the next few weeks tormenting the entire staff, flying off the handle for no reason, threatening everyone's job, and just generally being an unholy terror.

    "None of this got him fired, though. What got him fired was a customer who apparently rubbed him the wrong way and left her iPhone on the table. When she came back to get it, it was nowhere to be found. She was able to use the Find My Phone feature on her tablet, and what do you know, her phone was in the dumpster. Another manager checked the camera footage, and sure enough, Joe was the culprit. He was fired on the spot. I will never again stay in a job that toxic, although it did make for some great stories.

    "Oh! Almost forgot: Another manager, who we'll call Paul, was secretly dating the 17-year-old hostess. He was 31."


    10. "I was a nurse in labor and delivery with a doctor who had a notoriously bad temper and terrible bedside manner. Frankly, we all thought he hated women and was drunk half the time. There was a scheduled cesarean we were setting up for. All was well and good until a fly found its way into the OR. Can't have that at all! We all knew it and were doing what we're supposed to do in these cases."

    Medical professional in an operating room with medical equipment

    11. "I'm a guy, and I work in a male-dominated industry. The thought of imagining my sisters, nieces, or fiancé experiencing what I've seen makes me so upset. One of the worst I've seen was with an assistant I used to work with. She had gotten married a week prior and was out of the office. It was her first day back, and she was usually the first in the office after me and this older guy, who I never really liked."

    "He walked into the office and walked past her desk, stopped, and walked backward to where she sat after realizing she was back. He picked up her hair, SMELLED IT, and said, 'Oh yeah, she's DEFINITELY a married woman now.' I was like, 'Yo, what the hell was that?' He said, 'What? I'm just joking, she's laughing!' I'm like, 'No, she's laughing at how effed up that was, not with you.' She told me it was fine, but it wasn't. 

    "Look, I have a sense of humor. I probably say a lot I shouldn't. And I watch a lot of crude humor, too. But this was just weird. And I have no idea what he meant by it. What, she smells like sex? So messed up."

    —David, 35

    12. "I worked in the children’s television industry for 30 years and experienced raging hissy fits, phones and other things being thrown in my direction, manipulative power games, taunting, teasing, and complete ghosting by bosses throughout the years. What’s the saying about the cobbler’s kids not having shoes? Many of the people in power in the kid business are damaged children trying to rewrite their own stories."

    —Lisa, 60

    13. "In my 15-year career as a legal secretary, I experienced many inappropriate things with male lawyers (in different places and years). They all had anger issues and megalomaniac tendencies in common. Luckily, I was never sexually harassed, but they kinda treated me as if I was not even a decent human being. Apart from making me do far more things than I was supposed to do and paid for, they enjoyed abusing me verbally."

    Person writing in a document on a clipboard at a desk

    14. "My boss showed me very explicit videos of him getting a blowjob after work while I was the only one left, asking if it turned me on. I was disgusted, and he was saying he couldn’t believe how 'frigid' I was. After that, I was told I had a 'bad attitude' at work. This happened in 2012."

    —Valerie, 34

    15. "Several years ago, I had a shift manager who sexually harassed me and the other younger male employees, regularly hit on customers, and was seen multiple times performing sex acts in cars during her breaks. Once, completely out of the blue, she told me she’d been to massage school and offered to give me a massage — SPECIFICALLY, a glutes massage — and became retaliatory when I reported that and some other inappropriate comments she’d made."

    "She barely got a slap on the wrist for that, and we were told nothing could be done about the public sex because it occurred in the parking lot, which was technically owned by a different business in the center. (This was not an excuse that the customers who reported it to us bought for a second.) 

    "She was only FINALLY fired when she — this will probably sound made up, but it truly did happen — hit on a 13-YEAR-OLD in front of his dad, and when the kid responded by saying he was gay, she said, 'You're still too young to know, but I’ll change your mind when you want to try it with a real woman.' Apparently, months of sexual harassment and public indecency while on the clock weren't enough to warrant firing, but a buff 6-foot-tall man bursting into the building manager's office with angry tears streaming down his face to report pedophilia was the straw that finally broke the camel's back!"

    —Anonymous, 32

    16. "Boss called a coworker into a meeting while they were on the toilet pooping, and said coworker actually sat on a chair next to them, pinching their nose and breathing through their mouth the entire time."

    Open bathroom stall door reveals a toilet

    17. "I was working in a capacity that had me interacting with a manufacturing insurance inspector. Early in the small talk, we were talking about running, and he looked at me and told me that I didn't have the body of a runner. Then he proceeded to insult my alma mater as 'not good enough for smart people,' when it was one of the top schools in the state. The icing on the cake was when he told one of my colleagues that he appreciated the 'tits and ass' being out front, but he would need to know who to give his report to, since 'she clearly is only here to try to distract me.' I have only felt that pure rage a few times in my life."


    18. "In 2021, my old boss requested that I continue working when I was sick as fuck with COVID-19. This was before everything was relaxed and before most vaccines. She did not care, and the worst part was that I worked with small kids who did not qualify for the available vaccines. Definitely still when everyone was masked and freaking out over the virus. She didn’t believe in it or something. She was comfortable with me potentially getting toddlers ill. Worst work environment ever."

    "Same boss was also busted going through my phone to try to read texts I was talking shit about her in. I don’t know why I stayed there as long as I did."


    19. "In my old job, a male manager sent me an inappropriate picture of himself out of the blue one day. I complained to my line manager about it. I was later told that, when confronted, the manager in question denied everything (even though I had the picture and proof he'd sent it), and I was told I had to apologize or 'he'd take the matter further.'"

    Person at a desk holding a smartphone, near a tablet and computer keyboard

    20. "I worked at a pizza place in high school with several other underage high schoolers. We had a manager who was 27. He would grope the boys' butts or smack them. He would tell us all about his hookups, and when I made him mad, he took my phone to the bathroom and made my home screen a pic of his dick. He never got fired. He actually became a teacher who is now in prison for child molestation."


    21. "I worked at a large chain when I was fresh out of college before I started my career. I was 23. My boss, who was in his early 40s, would try to show me and other male workers my age videos of him and his wife having sex. I thought that was inappropriate. I never spoke to him unless I had to. Told myself it was just something I was doing until I got a job in the field I studied for. Once I found out that his wife didn't know he was filming her, I quit and reported him to the corporation that owned the location where I was working."

    "Hadn't heard his name mentioned in almost 15 years, but a year or so after it happened, I heard he got divorced and had no custody of his kids, even as far as his ex having a restraining order against him. I have no idea if what I reported led to his current state, but I hope it did. I was really young but still have regrets about that time. I feel like I should have done more. I was very selfish and didn't want anything to do with it, but that wasn't right."


    22. "I once worked at a restaurant that had a private dining room. Before the restaurant opened, the owner let his friend, who was a porn producer, shoot a porn film in the private dining room. When the restaurant opened, we had a party of 12 in the private dining room for dinner that night, and I thought to myself, If they only knew what had just taken place in here. The table was the main stage not only for the food I made but for the actors as well."

    Elegant dining table set with silverware and glasses

    Have you ever worked at a toxic company where inappropriate behavior was swept under the rug? Share your story in the comments.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.