Recently Amy dealt with a boss who took papers into the bathroom with him at work. Ick. I don't recall Amy's response, but she got this letter back:
Your reply to "Grossed Out," whose boss took client documents into the bathroom with him, was off base. Making light of what he's doing will either annoy him or will be lost on him, as he is already unaware of proper office bathroom etiquette.
Grossed Out should bring the situation to HR. They are trained to handle these types of matters.
Today, the issue was a scantily clad co-worker, and Amy's advice:
His next move should be to call in an HR professional to mediate this issue to everyone's satisfaction.
I must have called in sick on the day we had the secret HR Seminar titled: "Bathrooms and Inappropriate Dress: What Every HR Person Must Know!" (Truth be told, that sounds kind of like an article title for one of those ghastly magazines you see in the checkout line at the grocery store.)
Here's the problem in both of these situations--no one wants to be the adult. The bathroom thing is an oh, ick, situation. If your boss does this and then tries to hand you the papers say, "Steve, it really grosses me out when you take papers into the bathroom with you. Please don't do it any more."
But, but, but, he's my boss and he'll fire me! See, that's the adult problem coming into play again because if Steve were an adult he'd say, "Oh, I'm sorry. I never thought about it." And he wouldn't do it again.
With the scantily clad woman, the boss should have addressed her lack of judgment in clothing a long, long, time ago. Like when she was first hired. And bosses shouldn't force people to take other people to lunch with them. This is not second grade. (And co-workers should not exclude people from such gatherings either--this is not Junior High.)
But no one wants to say anything to see-through dress lady. "Jennifer, your clothing is inappropriate for the office. Here's a copy of the dress code. Please stick to it. If you have questions, look at what the other women in the office are wearing."
Now, I have no real objection to HR being brought into these problems. We're here to help. Really. Truly. But, can we please help grown ups?