Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.
WHEN A PERSON IS CALLED ON THEIR COMMENTS OR JOKES,
THEIR RESPONSE IS "IT'S ONLY A JOKE" OR “CAN'T YOU TAKE A JOKE?”
A WOMAN IN A MALE DOMINATED WORKPLACE GETS LESS THAN KIND
COMMENTS FROM THE GUYS AND WHEN ASKED ABOUT IT QUIETLY,
SHE SAYS IT DOESN'T BOTHER HER, OR SHE CAN TAKE IT
ASKING A PERSON WHO IS CONSIDERED A "MINORITY"
TO DO TASKS OTHERS ARE REQUIRED TO DO, YET THEY CRY FOUL
EMPLOYEES WHO MAKE DISPARAGING COMMENTS ABOUT MANAGEMENT AND MANAGERS WHO MAKE DISPARAGING COMMENTS ABOUT UNIONS, GENERALLY
WHEN SEVERAL EMPLOYEES MAKE DEROGATORY COMMENTS ABOUT
ANOTHER EMPLOYEE, WHO IS NOT PRESENT, AND OUTSIDE OF WORK
WHEN SOMEONE TELLS A JOKE, MOST PEOPLE LAUGH, BUT IT'S INAPPROPRIATE, ESPECIALLY FOR ONE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE, BUT NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING
WHEN EMPLOYEES DON'T WANT TO PICK UP THE SLACK BECAUSE A CHRISTIAN EMPLOYEE NEEDS TIME OFF FOR MASS AND WON'T WORK ON SUNDAYS
WHEN AN EMPLOYEE TAKES PART IN REPUGNANT, BUT NOT ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES, SUCH AS A WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUP, OUTSIDE OF WORK
YET NEVER SAYS OR DOES ANYTHING AT WORK
WHEN TWO EMPLOYEES WERE VERY GOOD FRIENDS, BUT HAD A PHYSICAL FIGHT OUTSIDE WORK AND NOW ONE OF THEM WON'T WORK WITH THE OTHER
OVER SOME OPEN FORM OF COMMUNICATION (RADIO OR GROUP EMAIL) AN EMPLOYEE STATES ABOUT ONE OF THE GUYS, "IT MUST BE THAT TIME OF THE MONTH" BECAUSE THIS FELLOW WAS BEING TOO EMOTIONAL
WHEN A WOMAN CAN’T DO THE SAME PHYSICAL WORK
A MALE CO-WORKER CAN DO, BUT IT’S ONLY A SMALL PART OF THE JOB
WHEN A PERSON APPEARS ALMOST RUDE IN EMAILS, BUT IN PERSON THEY COME ACROSS DIFFERENTLY – CONSIDERATE
WHEN SOMEONE WON’T TAKE “NO” FOR AN ANSWER – THEY HAVE EXHAUSTED ALL APPEALS AND PEOPLE DON’T SEE IT HIS WAY
WHEN SOMEONE IS AFRAID TO SAY ANYTHING TO SOMEONE WHO IS “DIFFERENT” FOR FEAR OF A COMPLAINT OR INSULTING THESE PEOPLE
PERSONS LOWER THEIR VOICES WHEN TALKING ABOUT SOMEONE WHO IS (WHISPER) “BLACK”
How do you deal with a problem that gets full protection within the law and virtually every workplace policy, but still makes some people feel uncomfortable? It may take some finesse, but you have to treat the issue as seriously as other similar issues.
Let’s say one employee, Ted, is talking about a new guy he met at a dinner party. Over the weekend they really hit it off and at coffee, he’s talking to some of his co-workers about it. He talks about their similar interests and maybe even how it was love at first sight. Ted doesn’t go into any graphic details (in fact, just like many people who first start dating, there may not be any graphic details), but he’s just expressing a new dating situation which many heterosexual employees might speak about at coffee.
We think in Canada no one is going to bat any eye at this kind of casual conversation because Canadians have come to accept their fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered family, friends and co-workers. However in our scenario, one of the employees from that coffee break comes to you and says she doesn’t like Ted talking about his “lifestyle” at work. She wants you to talk to Ted and put a stop to it.
Here’s the problem – sexual orientation is protected just like race, religion, gender and all other human rights categories in which we fit. If you told Ted he had to stop talking about his date, then you’d really have to put a stop to everyone talking about their dates. And even if you brought down an edict to cover everyone, it would be pretty clear that the only reason you were now putting a stop to all dating conversations is so certain employees didn’t have to hear about gay dating.
Ask the employee who is bothered by Ted’s conversations, what bothers her about it? She might say it’s personal, or goes against her religion, or she’s just not comfortable. Be understanding, because sometimes this seems to deal with “competing rights”, but in fact you can make it clear that as long as Ted isn’t crossing the line into discussions about sex, then he’s entitled to bring up normal conversations other employees bring up all the time.
“Cindy sometimes talks about her church picnics and dances. What if someone who was atheist wanted Cindy to stop talking about that? Would you think that’s fair? As long as people are reasonable, they should be able to discuss issues that are typical to many people. Sexual orientation shouldn’t be a deciding factor.”
“Not everyone is going to want to talk about or listen to everything that is being said at coffee breaks. I want everyone to feel comfortable while on their breaks, but if you really don’t want to hear Ted or others, you might want to consider having coffee elsewhere.”
“Try understanding where Ted is coming from. It wasn’t that long ago when people felt uncomfortable with the idea of white and Japanese people dating or marrying. Times change and sometimes it just takes a bit of time to get used to it.”
Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP
If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.
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