Unacceptable Behavior At Work

A couple of months ago I went to a conference and part of the requirement for managers in my state was to take a 2-hour course in Sexual Harassment and Workplace Harassment.  It was very informative and I had great information to take back to my staff for a meeting on these two topics.

Our office is small with fewer than 10 employees so getting the information out during an extended lunch meeting was doable.  I thought the information was made clear and also the rules on what to do if you are being harassed and how to report it.  We also discussed boundaries and that we each needed to be free to tell each other if we felt that someone was crossing a boundary that was on the verge of harassment. (See below for what defines harassment)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as unwelcome verbal or physical behavior that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), gender/gender identity, nationality, age (40 or older), physical or mental disability, or genetic information.

A couple of weeks ago I had to terminate one of the employees and after the employee left the premises another employee came to me to tell me that the employee that was let go had been approaching her for about three weeks during lunch asking her to prove how she could work in our country when she was born in another country. She also would say degrading comments about people not from our country as well to her.  I was shocked and disturbed that I had not been informed of this behavior when it happened the first time.

When I asked this employee why she did not tell me so I could do something about it according to our state law, she responded, “She was able to handle it and also she was the newest employee and did not want to cause a problem.”

Wow! I do understand how she felt this way, but at the same time this other employee got away with doing something that is very wrong with no consequence of her behavior.

So what is my point in telling this story?  Even when you think you are covering the bases as a manager it is hard to make employees understand the importance of following the rules and boundaries of the workplace and to provide an environment where everyone feels safe.

How does your workplace handle “Harassment” training?  Possibly, I need a few tips for the next meeting.


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