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”
The Supreme Court of Canada dealt with a case of a man who sued the water bottle company who delivered water with flies floating in the water. Even though he didn’t drink the water, he had a very negative reaction to it. While the court accepted this had a very negative impact on him, they said the water company could not have foreseen that a person with “ordinary fortitude” would suffer in the way this man had. While this case is a tort and not employment law, it reminds me of the notion of reasonableness that is in most aspects of the law.
We are allowed to have different reactions to different things. Some people will be more sensitive to jokes and comments than others. For the most part, we accept that. We will be more careful with our words around certain people and as long as it’s within reason that is acceptable. The problem arises when you’re dealing with a person who is very, very sensitive and can’t handle anything that other reasonable people can handle. Perhaps he thinks every comment is about him. Or maybe she doesn’t like to hear about politics of any kind. It’s not reasonable to ask everyone to change their behaviours when the behaviours are respectful and not hurtful to a person with “ordinary fortitude.”
Once you have established that other employees are doing their best to stay away from insensitive and disrespectful subjects, then you need to address the very sensitive person about his behaviour.
Ask the employee why she thinks every conversation is about her, or why, when other employees are laughing that is must be about her? Or ask him why certain conversations are out of bounds. Let this employee know that while it makes sense to stay away from certain disrespectful comments, not everything should be considered out of bounds.
“When I hear employees making fun of defenseless people, or making a racial joke, I’ll step in. However, not all humour is a problem and I don’t want to get rid of all jokes or ribbing in the workplace. Let’s talk about what bothers you.”
“I appreciate you don’t want people making fun of your religion. In fact I don’t see our employees doing that. Sure they comment about some aspects of religion in passing, or when something is interesting or provocative in the news, but I don’t think that’s being disrespectful. Perhaps you can tell me why this is a problem for you and why you think people need to stay away from all aspects of this subject.”
“I’ve heard what you’ve had to say about your sensitivity around this subject, but I have to tell you I don’t think it’s reasonable. You’re asking all employees to stay away from a subject matter which I think is fair to discuss at work. If it was disrespectful, I would put a stop to it, but I don’t in this case. On this matter, I think you’re asking too much of others at work.”
Stephen Hammond, B.A., LL.B., CSP
If you have any questions, please contact Stephen.
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