My supervisor gave me a gift certificate for a massage for my birthday. This makes me feel very awkward and uncomfortable because a massage is so hands-on intimate. Do you think giving me this sort of gift counts as sexual harassment?
It’s harassment only if your supervisor is the masseuse.
Since you don’t feel comfortable using the certificate, go ahead and send it to me. You won’t feel awkward and my shoulders will feel great. Now there is a happy ending for everyone!
— Evil Skippy
P.S. Besides, the message here may not be that your supervisor wants to touch you all over. It could mean he wants to have you rubbed out.
Yes, getting a massage is certainly a hands-on experience. While there are “those” types of massage parlors (the ones that seem quietly busy until the vice squad shows up and closes them down), most massage operations are legitimate businesses that make tired and sore muscles feel more tired and sore every day.
If you do not want to try experiencing a massage, treat this present like any other unwanted one and re-gift or simply don’t use it. If you have a good relationship with your supervisor – I say “if” because based on your letter I sense some trust issues – return the certificate to him and let him know you are not a fan of massages. You don’t have to say why. Thank him for the gift and tell him you would love it if he passed it on to someone who enjoys massages. Be as sincere as you can fake and do not pout. This approach means the massage won’t go to waste and your supervisor won’t be tempted to give the same gift to you next year.
On a final note, revel in the fact that lots of other people hate you a little bit right now and wonder why you are complaining about a gift when their bosses don’t even give them a birthday card.