Does anyone ever actually get fired for harassment?
July 22, 2010 2:58 PM Subscribe
Have you ever personally known anyone to suffer serious consequences for bullying or harassing others in the workplace? I'm talking about cases where you had a reliable account of both sides of the story and you had no reasonable doubts about the person's guilt, nor that they did in fact suffer the consequences.
posted by tel3path to Work & Money (40 answers total)
The reason I ask is: I keep hearing stuff bandied about like, oh, they can't make those kind of remarks, they're exposing the company to lawsuits, they'll get fired. Oh, they can't give someone a bad reference, they're exposing the company to lawsuits, they'll get fired.
Well, the majority of places I've worked had a culture of letting people make as many racist remarks as they wanted, often at the top of their lungs. I understand that perhaps simply making the remarks isn't actionable, it's actionable if someone complains about it. But the fact that nobody complains is quite possibly because they see that it's tolerated, so they don't expect the complaint to get anywhere.
I've also witnessed managers go around yelling "women can't do this, women can't do that" and then single out female staff for obvious persecution (verbally abusing them in front of everyone, falsifying their work records, etc.) before setting them up to be fired. I saw the bully's line manager look on with tears in his eyes, and take the bully aside and explain to him, very patiently and at length, why this kind of thing was wrong, but not actually discipline him. As his cow-orkers, we were told that we should surround him with kindness and show him that aggression was not rewarded in the company culture. Apparently it was, though, because he just kept right on aggressin' without suffering anything more serious than an appeal to his better nature.
I also saw people tamper with records to falsify any factual references that HR would send out in the future. One of the victims got wind of this and challenged it. From what I understand, it was an open-and-shut defamation case (based on an actual legal opinion, not someone's muddled ideas of the law) and the victim could easily have sued over it and not only would the perpetrator have been liable, but the perp's administrator, HR, and anyone who had been involved in passing on the false information would have been held responsible. The victim didn't sue, and as far as I know nobody was ever formally reprimanded. Maybe they just didn't advertise it. But the longevity of their career at that workplace continues seemingly unaffected.
I realize that this may sound like sour grapes, but I'd genuinely like to know. Is anyone here aware of anyone being formally disciplined for bullying and/or harassment or is it basically an urban myth?