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Dealing with workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination to create a respectful workplace

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

ARTICLES

#12

EMPLOYEES DON'T LIKE WHEN A GAY MAN TALKS OPENLY ABOUT HIS DATE, PARTNER OR HUSBAND

 

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.

 

TRY THIS:

 

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.

 

HOW ABOUT:

 

“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.

Stephen's NEW Book

available now

© STEPHEN HAMMOND - HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.    
 
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Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

Here's a FREE selection of articles that address many different problems and situations in your workplace.

© STEPHEN HAMMOND HARASSMENT SOLUTIONS INC.
 
  
 
CONTACT