After reviewing the details of the case study, “Was That Harassment”, from this unit’s reading and resources, respond to the following questions:
• What is human resources’ role in this question of harassment?
• Is this a harassment situation or unprofessional behavior?
• What factors determine if harassment has taken place?
• How effective is harassment training?
Loud angry shouting was so common, nobody looked up anymore to see what was going on. In fact, they were afraid to look up because they might be the next target of their ill-tempered boss’s next tirade. When he took over the department, he had a sour disposition from the get-go. Rumor had it that his former department had a party to celebrate his departure and didn’t invite him. In the last to months, he went from being grumpy to nasty to totally abusive. His red-faced screaming and sarcastic put-downs were daily occurrences. Threats were used for motivation and discipline. Nobody was immune from his harassment. The atmosphere was toxic and hostile. Morale was at an all-time low and turnover was nearly 50 percent since his arrival. Employees went to HR to complain several weeks ago, but he was still there with no noticeable change in behavior. Today, a long-time employee called the state equal employment agency to find out how to file a claim of harassment … and was shocked to find out that they couldn’t help. She explained to her disbelieving coworkers: “They said it’s not harassment or a hostile work environment! At least not by their definition.” She went on to tell them “since he’s a jerk to everyone; men, women, young, old, any racial background at all, it isn’t discrimination, harassment or hostile work environment he’s just an equal opportunity jerk”
If supervisors are not well trained, and the workplace culture is dysfunctional, discrimination and disciplinary problems are more common. Should employees assume that nothing is being done about the manager’s behavior? Are the rules of discipline different when a manager is the one needing intervention? What problems are likely to arise if this situation doesn’t change? How could this situation have been avoided? What action should HR take? Is firing the manager the only option?