How do you recognize hostile work environment behaviors? Becky Freemal, anchor for WFXR 10pm news, explains what a hostile work environment is and the consequences of being in one. Tommy Strelka, attorney at law, Judith Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence, and Lynda McNutt Foster, CEO of Cortex Leadership provide help on this topic.
Travell: Alright. The mudslinging that took place during the presidential campaign did not end after Election Day.
Becky: Yeah, there have been plenty of people on both sides of the isle, on social media, at school and in the workplace who allege harassment from people who don’t see eye to eye with one another after last week’s election. Tonight, in Virginia at Work, we discuss the reality of a hostile work environment and the cost of workplace discrimination.
Becky: Building trust is a topic Lynda McNutt Foster teaches leaders on a regular basis, as an executive coach and CEO of Cortex Leadership Consulting. She has stressed, time and time again, when anxiety is high, and productivity is low. According to the Department of Labor, examples of a hostile work environment can include such things as telling off-color jokes concerning race, sex, or disability, commenting on physical attributes using indecent gestures, and using demeaning or inappropriate terms. Workplace harassment remains a persistent problem, and too often goes unreported, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who cites a compelling business case for putting an end to it. Last year alone, the EEOC reports it recovered 164.5 million dollars for workers alleging harassment.
Tommy: Virtually everything that a presidential candidate can say leading up to the point of election is going to be protected speech under the First Amendment. This allows them to talk about a wide variety of things and opinions that may be favorable or dis-favorable to certain people. But that protection for the First Amendment stops for the vast majority of Americans when they clock in. You don’t have a right to repeat political speech at a place of employment; especially if it discriminates or in any way is used in a negative or hate filled way at work.
Becky: Not only can bullying in the workplace lead to decreased productivity, it can add to increased turnover and even reputational harm. Local executive consult Lynda McNutt Foster traveled to New York City to talk with nationally known consultant and author Judith Glaser, who spoke about her book, Conversational Intelligence and handling relationships in the workplace.
Lynda: For any leader, any manager, any supervisor, you’re the one setting the tone. You need to come to work and speak to people with respect, and it will flow down and cascade from your actions. What you say, what you do will make a difference.
Judith: Bullying in the workplace is like a disease that spreads from one person to another, so you have to catch it when you can define it, and I want to give everybody listening permissions to say that they can go to HR, and that they can go to their boss, and they can ask for help. Because doing it on your own is not enough for any individual. So reaching out and letting your company know that bullyism is starting to spread in the company. It’s only corrected when you have the courage to go in and speak up and ask for help.
Tommy: And this isn’t a little fine or a ticket, or, it doesn’t go to the small claims court. These things can blow up into a large federal lawsuit. And it doesn’t matter who’s in charge. The commander in chief cannot, in any way, change Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act, or really any of the other laws that are in the books that protect our workforce.
Becky: We have more on this topic and links to the podcast with Judith Glaser on our website, virginiafirst.com. Just click on Sections and you will find Virginia at Work under the Community list.