In each IntegrityStar edition, we highlight frequently asked questions. In this fourth edition, we offer the following questions and answers related to respecting others.
The following FAQs provide general guidelines for all employees. For more specific guidance, please do not hesitate to contact University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk at 407-823-6263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our office is very diverse and nearly every day someone makes an unkind remark that involves race or ethnicity. I am a manager and as far as I can see everyone is equally responsible. I’m not sure what to say even if I wanted to report the situation. What can I do?
You’re right that everyone is equally responsible for making your workplace a better place to be. Speak to your human resources representative or EO/AA about this situation. Perhaps a training session or facilitated open discussion will help to clear the air. As a manager, you are responsible for paying attention to subtle things that happen in your area that may contribute to a negative work environment.
Someone posted a sign in the break room that uses vulgar language to deride a rival of our local sports team. Some people then added their own off-color comments. No one has complained about the sign, but as the office administrator, I’m wondering if something should be done.
You are right to be concerned. Though this sign may seem like harmless fun, it is potentially offensive and inappropriate for the office. The sign should be removed. You might consider replacing it with a sign that says something positive about your local team, and encourage people to add positive comments to it.
I’m very upset about something a co-worker said to me. She happens to be very close to my supervisor. Someone told me I had to go to my supervisor first before I told anyone else but I don’t want to do that. Is this my only option?
No, you have many options besides speaking to your supervisor. The Reporting Misconduct and Protection from Retaliation Policy provides a number of reporting options. Depending on your specific situation, you may contact HR, EO/AA, University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk or the UCF IntegrityLine. You need not fear retaliation for a complaint made in good faith.
During a celebration lunch last week, we somehow slipped into a teasing session involving several of our newer employees. We made a lot of jokes about the questions they ask and recounted the dumb mistakes they had made lately. I think it got out of hand, but my co-workers say the kids need to grow some “thick skin.” Should I do anything?
You shouldn’t ignore any situation that you thought was “out of hand.” Take the time to apologize to your younger co-workers for this incident and let them know they are appreciated. Reassure them that there are no dumb questions and that you’ll be happy to help them when they need it. Remember that even if they seem to laugh it off this time, incidents like this can build up to an uncomfortable situation that affects productivity and may drive good employees to leave the university.
I am a male supervisor who has only one female employee. Unfortunately, this employee is having some performance issues. I don’t want to single this person out by giving negative performance feedback, because I’m nervous that she’ll accuse me of discrimination. What can I do?
The best thing for you to do is to be consistent in providing feedback to all members of your team. If the performance criterion is fair and evenly applied, you will be able to defend your position even if you are accused of discrimination. However if you refuse to give this employee feedback, you’re actually depriving her of a chance to improve performance. That could be considered discrimination.