Only second in residency-related abuse of power to correction officers who use the inmate population as their personal dating pool, the flirtatious caseworker unconscionably throws out “availability” signals to clients. These reckless, thinly-veiled come-ons are bolstered by the understanding that the caseworker has the power to make an already extremely difficult situation even more difficult.
Married people, or people in committed relationships, are not exempt from the antics of the flirtatious case worker. Even if the case worker is aware that their flirtations are not likely to result in a liaison, this may not necessarily be a deterrent for their antics.
For some of the caseworkers who shamelessly flirt, a liaison is not their end-goal. Their off-putting behavior is instead used to be a distraction for the poor manner in which they do their jobs; or it is used as a tool to cause dissension between couples, as one of the many divide-and-conquer tactics that a family may encounter when they are in the shelter system; or it can be used by the caseworker to provoke a negative response that will likely be used against the ensnared subject who is repulsed by the caseworker’s inappropriate conduct.
Beware of your responses to any type of unprofessional behavior. Always keep your composure, and respectfully remove yourself from any situation that seems untoward.
Characteristics of a Flirtatious Caseworker:
• This person may or may not be dressed in professional attire. No matter the outfitting, they will find a reason to expose body parts that should be properly covered in a public/professional setting. Their excuses may range from: Room temperature change, changing comfortability levels, the need to execute random maneuvers that emphasize their speech, the sudden need to return a borrowed article of clothing to someone that they happen to be wearing; the list can go on.
• This person may have background music playing in their office, but it will not be “neutral,” like elevator music. They may also happen to “casually” sing along with the most provocative parts of the song.
• This person may proclaim profusely, without query or expressed interest on the client’s part, to be in a relationship. Their professed relationship status seems to be negligible when it comes to their antics though.
• In a couples or family situation, the flirtatious caseworker will exude feigned helpfulness and kindness to the subject of their foolery, while expressing derision towards that person’s spouse or partner.
REMEMBER: No matter what caseworker type you encounter, never lose focus of the fact that you are interacting with the service provider to get housing help. When it is in your power to do so, make your need to receive housing placement the main, if not the only, topic of discussion with your service provider. If it is not within your power to keep the focus of the meeting on your stated need, try not to spend any substantial time or energy engaging in counterproductive banter. Also, when necessary, politely remove yourself from any detrimental situation.
-The Homeless New Yorker