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Its All Fun And Games Until Someone Is Called To HR

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Everyone must work; it’s not just a fact of life but a reality, unless you were fortunate enough to hit those six magical numbers. Employment has been added to the cliché “everyone has to be employed, pay taxes and then die.” Our actuality is we have to show up, do our forty, sixty, or in extreme cases 80 hour work week to maintain the American reality. Since we are a slave to our paychecks which allow us to continue the happy relationship between our mortgage and landlords, we go to work to perform the job we were hired to do, not to endure middle school behavior.

There is a stark correlation between Work environments that are more like the Jr High school you attended and less resembling the grown up and professional work atmosphere you hoped for when hired will find their Human Resources Departments spending more time acting like hall monitors and detention room observers than college trained professionals focused on helping raise morale and relations. If your business is finding itself wasting precious resources and time, does the following story sound like it could be your company?

Supervisor X is a great person. Likeable, funny, helpful, very approachable and all around great boss. Supervisor X attended a performance by a very funny and offensive popular comedian last night. The audience and Supervisor X thought the performance was hilarious and decided to share some of the off colored and offensive humor, especially one joke that involved three religious figures, a duck and a young child, with a fellow Supervisor Z in the break room. The other supervisor found the humor very funny and laughed, but unfortunately Supervisor X decided to tell the joke in the same loud fashion as the comedian did. Several employees heard the joke and Employee Y found it very offensive.

Everyone knows Employee Y is very religious in fact; their older brother is a religious figure. Everyone also knows that Employee Y is also the regional president of a rare duck rescue, and has three small children. So in accordance with the company’s Workplace Harassment Policy, Employee Y filed a complaint with the Human Resources Office. The HR Manager conducted an EEOC investigation in accordance with the published Company Policy and found that four employees witnessed the unprofessional conduct of the two supervisors. In accordance with the company’s Workplace and company disciplinary policy, Supervisor Z was given a disciplinary warning for participating in this type of conduct and not reporting it and Supervisor X was terminated for directly violating the policy.

Word soon spread as to the termination of Supervisor X and all those employees who enjoyed working for and with this Supervisor thought this was just another case of workplaces not being any fun and too serious. That Political Correctness was being taken a little too far. That people need to learn how to take a joke and not being so uptight. Those employees began to retaliate against employee Y. They left photos of dead ducks in places they knew would be seen by Employee Y. Employee Y would hear quack quack every time they went into the break room and in common places. While many employees thought it was funny and it soon caught on as just another workplace joke, but there is always someone who escalates every joke and left an actual dead duck next to Employee Y’s vehicle. Employee Y went to HR and quit, claiming they cannot work here any longer. Then filed a complaint with the State EEOC Office and hired an attorney.

The HR Office was now forced to implement even tougher workplace Employee Conduct measures, more Sexual & Hostile Workplace Harassment Environment training was conducted to educate employees and supervisors, thus taking time away from production and costing the company thousands of dollars in hours of more training and investigations to be done. The lawsuit was settled and even more money was lost, thus cutting into that year’s profits. Stricter company policies were instituted they now made it even more of an unhappy place to work, just because someone thought they were being funny.

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