My employer is notorious for finding health-related reasons to let older workers go, so going to human resources doesn’t make sense.
I am usually laid-back, but I have had it. Nothing helps, from assurances that I am working on it to telling him to back off. How can I get Jack LaLanne Jr. to mind his own business?
Karla: First, you deserve a high-five for taking charge of yourself. But even if you sat at your desk horking down Boston cream doughnuts, you wouldn’t deserve Slim Goodbody’s catty vendetta. Stop striving to earn his worthless approval by “assuring” him that you’re working on your weight. The only weight-related issues here are his.
If your weight is caused by a disability, or if you live in a jurisdiction (such as the District, San Francisco or the state of Michigan) that bans discrimination on the basis of personal appearance, it could be illegal for your company to allow co-workers to harass you because of your weight. Furthermore, Skinny Vinny’s non-work-related broadsides might violate office policy. Plus, he’s sowing discord. Those are issues HR should care about.
But you’ve said you don’t want to go to HR. And it might be more effective, and more satisfying, to block this cocky colleague yourself. First, however, you have to reject his “fit vs. fat” battleground and address this as a professional issue: He is undermining a fellow manager.
Next time Skeletor picks a bone with you, say: “Look, if you have a legitimate issue with my performance, let’s talk about it with my manager. Otherwise, stop taking swipes at me in front of my people. It’s disrespectful and unprofessional.” I doubt he’ll be willing to spout his snark in front of a higher-up.
Standing up to Jack LaLame will empower you and others. It’s time to throw your professional weight around.
Thanks to Sharon Snyder of Ober|Kaler for legal insights.
Karla L. Miller is ready to hear your work dramas and traumas. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can find her on Twitter, @KarlaAtWork, or Facebook, www.facebook.com/KarlaLMillerAtWork.