“Ask The Workplace Doctors” Is Still A Great Workplace Communications Resource

Ask The Workplace Doctors has almost 3,000 questions and answers
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For over two decades, Ask the Workplace Doctors, the site developed by William I. Gorden, Ph.D., of Kent State University, School of Communication Studies, has been a workplace communications resource for thousands of people, from around the world. You can still count on us to provide practical, reasonable, useful and compassionate advice. However, we are dealing with problems related to the appearance of some of the questions and answers and hope you will patient about those.

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Racism in the Workplace – An Accusation Made Against Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a reference to someone’s skin color resulting in a suspension.

On Wednesday I was suspended from work for a couple of comments I made about someone’s skin colour. It was a cheap attempt at a joke and the person. I consider the person I said it to to be a friend. There was another person involved in the conversation, who I believe has made the accusation against me.

On reflection I completely agree that my comments could be interpreted as racist, but without question there was no malicious intent. I do not consider myself to be in anyway a racist.

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What Can I Do About a Rumor That Could Ruin My Life?

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an untrue accusation of an affair at work.

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Question:
I work in a retail environment with eight other coworkers of different genders. A male coworker works night shift and when we close the store our jobs require us to walk the store for a hand-off. Someone recently accused us of having an affair. The store manager approached the night manager to ask him. At this time I was not aware of the rumour because HR asked the store manager to investigate (HR never asked me). A couple weeks later the night manager was approached by the store manager again and asked about it. He informed the manager that it was not true and he wanted to squash the rumour like the first time. 

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What Should I Do About This Threat?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an employee who
yelled a threatening remark.
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Question:
I’m a manager and a staff member got upset about some work I gave him and yelled at me, inches from my face, saying, “Don’t make me lose my shit or one of these days there’ll be nothing left here except charcoal!” What should I do about it?

Answer:

It sounds as though you have an employee who 1.) Is rude and disrespectful to his manager. 2.) Doesn’t control his temper. 3.) Makes threats that implies if he gets angry enough he will set the building on fire—and presumably anyone in it.

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What Can I Do to Prevent a Repeat of Problem Behavior By a Colleague Toward Younger Staff?

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors: What should I do to ensure my staff
is treated appropriately by someone
who has behaved inappropriately in the past?  

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Question:  
I have a male colleague who has placed several junior staff (15-20+ years younger; mostly but not entirely female) in uncomfortable situations over the years: getting drunk to the point that they have to take him home to his wife since he can’t stand up straight (injuring themselves accidentally in the process), calling female colleagues while drunk and then lying to his wife about who he’s talking to, getting drunk in front of clients and having colleagues need to “clean up” after (including both helping him as he throws up as well as dealing with the clients), and so on.

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Someone I Mentor Is Trying to Take Over My Work.

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors: How do I deal with someone I mentor
but who now seems to be taking over my position?
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Question:   
I worked with a person at another facility and thought she was intelligent and hardworking. As a result, when I was promoted to the Department Coordinator position I asked my manager to consider her for my old position. Ever since this person came to our department I have mentored her and spent considerable time training her. She now seems to think she can insert herself in my new position and interfere in my job responsibilities. Unfortunately our manager does not correct this behavior.

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Should I Give a Statement About Something That Happened Two Months Ago?

A question to the Workplace Doctors: I’m being asked to make a statement
about something that happened two months ago. What should I do? 

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Question:
I am currently on leave but my supervisor sent me a message to say I must come into work and write a statement about something that happened almost two months ago.  The problem is that the situation didn’t actually happen in my department at work, it happened in another department with which my department interacts. When the situation happened, the guys told me about it and I told them to follow procedures and report the matter to the right people. They didn’t tell me what they ended up doing.

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No Longer Radios Where We Work

A question submitted to Ask the Workplace Doctors about radios being prohibited:
I work for a company the makes hydraulic cylinders. The business has been around since the 70’s and radios have always been allowed. The shop has been part of the USW since the 80’s and now they have implemented a hearing conservation program and have posted that all radios have to be removed and are prohibited from further use. There has been no bargaining with the union on this matter. What can we do?
Signed Radios Off

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Constant Criticism and Anger at Work

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an employee who criticizes how things are done:
I have an employee at work who is constantly criticizing how things are done. She is a perfectionist in her tasks and indeed does a very good job in her duties, often staying until late and performing way beyond the standards that she is asked for.

However, whilst doing so, she is constantly complaining, especially to a small group of people, about how others do their work. Even though of course everything can always be improved and done at a higher level, as a manager I don’t see any clear reasons for complaint. All the opposite, I feel that everyone is working well and that the job is certainly getting done; many times even way over my expectations.

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What Can Husband Do When His Wife is Involved With a Supervisor At Their Workplace?

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors: What recourse does a spouse have
when his or her partner is involved
with a supervisor
in the company for which they both work? 

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Question: My niece works with her husband at a firm (both are employees). She has started an affair with one of the supervisors. What recourse /grievance can my niece’s husband raise with the company?

Response:
It is hurtful on many levels, when a spouse is having an affair—and even more so when the married couple and the third person work for the same company. Apart from the emotions and embarrassment for all involved, it’s bound to have a negative effect on work and the work environment, especially when the relationship is between a supervisor and one who is supervised. Employers are also concerned about accusations of sexual harassment if the subordinate employee later claims coercion. And, nowadays, workplace violence can be the result of such a situation. That’s why employers usually have rules prohibiting such relationships. (Although, such rules don’t seem to have much effect on workplace affairs. People will do what they want to do, in most cases.)

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No Raise Now?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a verbal warning:
Can a supervisor hold a raise if you were given a verbal warning?
Signed Wondering

Dear Wondering:
I’m sure you don’t want an “it depends” answer. You’d like someone to say, “No, that can’t be done!”

Even labor attorneys, that we are not, most likely will hedge saying it depends on state and federal labor laws, the size of your company, if you are unionized, and how raises are determined by your employer. If you had a union, you’d probably know the answer to your question, so I assume you don’t work under a union contract. We provide communication advice, not legal but here are some thoughts to consider.

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