Week 5 Writing Assignment
You are the CEO of a young, growing company. You have long expressed concern to your executive team that the company is unprepared to handle harassment claims.
While there haven’t been any claims so far, the recent growth in the size of the company, creates a need for precautions. You have observed heated arguments on the shop floor, in the sales offices, on the showroom floor, and even in the executive offices over all kinds of matters, some not even work related. You have even observed some employees bursting into tears over some of these arguments. You have heard people cursing openly, some of the employees are so crude that they don’t even seem to know that they do it. There have been some complaints by employees who feel that this is unprofessional and hurts the image of the company, damages morale, and could result in harassment claims.
The Director of Human Resources drops by your office to show you a recent article called “Reducing Harassment in the Workplace.” According to the article, at a minimum, the company needs a policy that informs employees about harassment, which can be sexual, racial, religious, national origin, age, or disability, that it is not permitted at work, and that there are a number of people they can contact if they feel victimized. The article goes on to say that is a good start, but it isn’t nearly enough to protect a company. The article says what is needed is a civility code to ensure that everyone treats everyone else, fellow workers, subordinates, superiors, customers, and suppliers, with dignity and respect. One section of the Code says: “Courtesy is the responsibility of every employee. Everyone is expected to be courteous, polite and friendly to our customers, vendors and suppliers, as well as to their fellow employees. No one should be disrespectful or use profanity or any other language which injures the image or reputation of the Company.”
The next day you discuss the article with your 4-person executive team. Two of them like the idea, two of them hate it. You tell them to think about it and you’ll discuss it further at your next meeting. The following Monday morning you get to work, and your secretary tells you to check your e-mail. You discover that there is a heated battle going on between numerous employees debating the “proposed” civility code. Some of the comments are favorable, but others are downright uncivil, rude, and profane. Some of the critics complain that it is a violation of free speech and one even calls you a communist. One employee says this is good reason to bring in a union. One of the advocates of the civility code has been called a “p.c. millennial snowflake” and is threatening to bring a harassment claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC.
You call your attorney and tell him what’s happening. Later that day, after doing 2 hours of research, the two of you meet. He tells you that the situation is complicated from a legal standpoint, but there are three key points. One, employees of private companies have no First Amendment free speech rights at work. Two, the EEOC likes the idea of civility codes, since they are charged with eliminating harassment in the workplace. Three, the National Labor Relations Board, the NLRB, has taken a very broad view of what is protected “concerted activity by workers for mutual benefit and support,” whether there is a union involved or not. By the way, the lawyer says, the NLRB has gone so far as to prohibit employers from restricting company e-mail use to purely business matters. In other words, he says, you are between a rock and a hard place, and, by the way, here is a bill for $500 for the meeting and research.
As CEO, you must now decide how to handle the situation. Using the Writing Advantage format, write a draft proposal (approx. 2 pages) to your Executive Team addressing the following:
• State the problem in the situation, and provide the inductive or deductive (or both) reasoning that leads you to your problem statement
• Discuss any assumptions that you or others in the situation may be making (as much as possible, support your statements with data from the case)
• Evaluate the validity and value of each person’s position/stance on the situation
• Discuss any ethical concerns raised in the situation
• Discuss any suspicious or fraudulent claims in the scenario
• List and discuss pros and cons of possible solutions
• Recommend a solution and course of action. For more information on Harassment Claims check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harassment
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