Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fairness in the Work Place

So when is it too much? When do you we say enough in an atmosphere that used to be innocent. Or was it ever innocent? When is it okay for one employer to treat an employee differently than has than other employees? This is the question I find myself faced with today.

For example, if an employer goes to hug and employee and said employee makes the comment she is hot and sweaty and the employer says “that’s just the way I like you”, it’s not appropriate. Or does the shoulder hug alone comprise the sexual harassment statute?

What about fair treatment for all employees? If there is no rule in place regarding say, hair color, tattoos or piercings, and one or more employees have them without incident and one comes in with a red streak in his hair and is singled out and forced to be taken off the floor for not complying to a rule that was never there in the first place without justification or explanation, is that worthy of a complaint?

What about a potentially dangerous situation when a drug influenced patron walks in and makes the staff uncomfortable. The lead employee refuses further service and the employee is reprimanded for poor customer service and the patron is invited back with a gift certificate?

Or what if an employee overlooks a duty and the employer helps themselves to the employee’s tip jar as a punishment for the oversight without asking?

And what if the employee takes a minority employee and pushes them with duties that no one can do in the allotted time and for such little pay and then tells them this is a good job for them, they are lucky to have it?

These are examples I have seen in the work place and in thinking about it, have gone to the Bureau of Labor and Industry for my state. There is a complaint system in place but, as I’m sure it is in most states, is extensive. That’s good in some ways. Otherwise, everyone would be bitching about every little nuance in the work place whether it’s merited or not. But when you are looking at having to file the complaint and then be confronted with the person you are filing against, it can be a frightening and daunting experience most likely leaving most employees to just quit and leave the offending boss to keep up his ways.

So how do we make these offending bosses responsible for their actions? What is the recourse of action that can be taken or is there one? Quit. For sure if you are financially able, but then without bringing the employer to the table on his actions, it only continues for the next one. In the past I have found myself saying as I’m sure others before me did, “well, someone is going to make him accountable….it just can’t be me”. Then what?

I think it takes standing up to the boss in the situation and letting him know your boundaries. The problem with that is risk losing your job. If you are in the mode to file a complaint, then your job is most likely over. Is there financial compensation for doing such a thing knowing that your employment at the establishment is through? And is there a way to find out if the employer has done the same thing in other establishments in the past? I am truly asking to find answers. I know a great deal of people who can benefit from this information. Have you run across this in your work space and what solutions did you come up with? Was your offender brought to justice? If so how? I wish this were one of my blogs where I gave insightful solutions and go get ‘em pep talks but I am truly at a loss on how to advise here. Always your comments are welcome but particularly here. In a day where most are lucky to find themselves, employed, how do you handle strife in the work place?