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Touchy-Feeling Limitations At Work

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - So what are the workplace rules when it comes to non-sexual touching?

A serial hugger has been apprehended in St. Louis, where “Jack the Gripper” as he’s been dubbed by the paper, approached at least 30 women, and, pretending to be a former neighbor, asks for birthday hugs, which he takes before anyone can object. Eventually enough of his victims complained to police that he was arrested for third degree battery.

But, beyond the criminal, people face coworkers who have different levels of tolerance for the touchy-feely – the high five, the friendly hug, the double handed handshake. Not all touching is illegal, but that doesn’t mean it’s always welcome. So always remember these rules:

1. Never grab yourself or others, even as a joke. That can and does lead to sexual harassment charges.
2. Never touch in anger. A chest poke to a subordinate when angry can be seen as hostile or even violent.
3. Never shake hands in a bathroom before washing your hands.

And remember that a warm smile is never offensive, never a germ spreader, and rarely leads to nicknames like ‘Jack the Gripper’.