OP (Original Poster) is a preschool teacher, so you can imagine his surprise when he was reported for supposedly wearing inappropriate underwear while he was in class. What did he do wrong?
OP is a 22-year-old man working as a preschool teacher. Every day, he’s surrounded by three-year-olds in his classroom.
He shared that aside from him, he worked alongside two assistant teachers in his class. These assistant teachers are “older women.”
His Go-to Work Attire
As a preschool teacher, his days are usually filled with activities. So, he doesn’t adhere to a strict uniform and has been told to wear athletic clothing instead.
He wrote, “I do a lot of running around and activities with the children, so the center has literally told me to wear athletic clothing to work. I am fine with that. I typically wear a t-shirt and either athletic shorts or joggers.”
OP is six feet tall. Since he was working with toddlers, his job required him to bend over and squat down to be on the same level as the kids he was teaching.
Unfortunately, there had been times when the top of his underwear would be visible when he bent over. That wasn’t the issue in itself; the problem was that whenever he did so, an assistant teacher would always comment on what he was wearing.
OP wrote, “She’ll say stuff like ‘I see London, I see France’ and even comment on the colors. She’ll make comments on it not being professional.”
Others Don’t Notice
OP also shared that his boss had observed and watched him teach numerous times. Even with that, he’d never heard him say anything about his underwear.
However, one of the assistant teachers he worked with had other ideas.
She complained to OP’s boss about the matter. She suggested OP wear something more “muted” if his underwear would be visible.
For OP, talking about his underwear with his boss wasn’t something he was comfortable with. Another problem he has is that he’d have to go and buy new underwear if it was enforced.
He said, “Not only was it incredibly embarrassing to have to hear my boss talk about my underwear, but doing so would require me to literally go out and buy all new underwear.”
His boss understood that OP’s underwear peeking through when he bent over was normal. However, he also noted that it was “attention-grabbing.”
OP is currently facing a crisis with this, as he revealed that most of his underwear has “vibrant colors.” He had other pairs, which were white, but he wasn’t sure they’d still fit.
Should I Ignore It?
OP’s considering just ignoring the whole thing. He’s also not sure how to act moving forward.
He said, “This is incredibly embarrassing. I want to know if I’m the a**hole if I simply ignore it, as all my other feedback has been good, and I can’t imagine them firing me over this.”
Though he feels torn, OP seemed to lean toward not following new directives.
OP wrote, “I think that’s an absurd request, and I don’t want to do it.”
What Users Have to Say
Redditors pointed out that what was happening was already a form of harassment.
This user said, “Not the a**hole. Complain to your boss and HR that your assistant teachers are s******* harassing you by pointing out your underwear, especially quoting, ‘I see London, I see France, and even comment on the colors.’ This is s***** harassment, and they can’t demand you change your underwear in any way. End of discussion.”
Another wrote, “It is s***** harassment and moreover super annoying to do in front of kids. Kids definitely often find underwear etc., funny, but this teacher is literally displaying s***** harassment behavior and teaching them this is how ‘adults’ behave, and it’s a cool way to be. I wouldn’t care at all if my kid sometimes saw their teacher’s underwear band. That’s part of life! But I’d be furious to know they were watching this scenario repeatedly and learning this is how you should treat your peers.”
What’s Wrong With Your Boss?
People also called OP’s boss out for just going with the flow and not thinking about what was happening.
“None of this occurred to OP’s boss? This person heard this assistant teacher make a bunch of complaints about another employee’s underwear and was like, ‘Right, sounds reasonable, gonna take your side here, no need to ask the person who’s being scolded about their underwear in the workplace about their side of things.’ That boss is—well, the kindest I can put it is that he’s not bright enough to be worth complaining to. Go to your union,” commented one Redditor.
Sound Pieces of Advice
The community also left some advice for OP, helping him figure out what to do next.
This person wrote, “To be fair, coworkers complaining about seeing women’s underwear has long been seen as reasonable. The assistant teacher may even be resentful because she has been given similar feedback and adjusted her wardrobe at her expense. That doesn’t make any of it okay! OP, ask for a written dress code and definitely express that it feels like s***** harassment to have your coworkers commenting on your underwear in class. Even if you are violating the dress code and have to change, her way of approaching it was very problematic.”
Another said, “The OP should ask for clear, written guidance on what his boss wants him to do, then use that to make a complaint about the s***** harassment from his colleague and boss. This is not okay. A union would be helpful with this.”
They Shouldn’t Be Biased
People also pointed out how there could be a double standard here. If so, OP should fight for his rights!
This user noted, “I kept thinking of how this would play out if the genders were reversed. Harassment is harassment, and she shouldn’t get away with it.”
What should OP do? What do you think of what he’s dealing with?
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This post first appeared as A Preschool Teacher Was Reprimanded for Wearing “Attention-Grabbing” Underwear and Was Demanded to Wear Appropriate, “Muted” Ones. We Think It’s Harassment, and He Should Report It! on Quote Ambition.