These FAQs provide guidance on the first two articles in this edition, Resolving Workplace Conflicts and the Subtleties of Discriminatory Harassment.
One of our co-workers is easily upset and often loses her temper. She always apologizes later but her outbursts are upsetting. What should I do?
The next time it happens ask to speak to her privately when she has calmed down. Explain how her outbursts make you feel. Be specific and speak for yourself, not for the rest of the office.
I don’t agree with how my supervisor is handling a situation. We’ve discussed it in the office and I know others think I’m right. This isn’t the first time this has happened. Should I confront my supervisor about it?
Confronting your supervisor is very different from discussing the issue. Take some time to evaluate how you feel and why you think your approach is correct. Don’t bring up “old news” about what’s happened in the past unless it’s really relevant to the situation now. If you communicate directly and specifically about the issue, you might change your supervisor’s mind. Even if that doesn’t happen, at least your supervisor will understand your position.
A man in the next office doesn’t get along with one of my co-workers. At first, they were just having loud conversations, but lately the other man has made threats. Several of us were thinking of meeting with him and telling him to stop. How should we handle this?
This is a good example of why it’s important to resolve conflict as soon as possible. It sounds as though this disagreement has already escalated to the point where violence is a possibility. Report this situation to your supervisor or to the UCF IntegrityLine, so that appropriate action can be taken to resolve the issue.
Someone posted a sign in the break room that uses vulgar language to ridicule 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. Depending on your specific situation, you may contact a different supervisor, HR, OIE, another central investigating office, or the UCF IntegrityLine. While UCF provides a variety of internal channels for reporting misconduct, you also have the right to report misconduct externally, directly to government agencies and regulators. The university strictly prohibits retaliation for making a complaint 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 new 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. Also, having a conversation with your colleagues to inform them that this type of behavior does not contribute to a respectful or productive work environment will help to prevent this situation from happening again.
I am a supervisor who has only one African American 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 support your feedback 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 her performance, which depending on the circumstances, could be considered discrimination.