Our company picnic is coming up. One of our employees just came to me and said she was nervous that one of our other employees and his boyfriend will make a scene at the event by making out in front of everyone. My employee did not want her kids to see such behavior. The employee who she is worried about has worked for us for many years and his boyfriend has lived with him the entire time. They’ve never made a scene in the past. I told my concerned employee that she has nothing to be worried about. She is insisting that I talk to the other employee and caution him about proper behavior. She says there should be know “PDAs” (public displays of affection). Do you think I need to caution him?
– Boss Lady
Dear Boss Lady:
Of course you should caution him. Everyone knows that gay men can’t stop themselves from making out in front of co-workers and strangers at company picnics. Especially a couple that has lived together for several years. They probably can’t find any other place to canoodle than at a company picnic. Everyone’s sensibilities are in grave danger if you do not issue a stern caution.
If you did not already recognize that as sarcasm, it was. Unless this employee has made a spectacle of himself in the past, there is no need to say anything to him. You make it clear that this fellow has never been a problem over the years, so what you need to do is tell your complaining employee that her remarks were insulting. She’s the one who needs a caution. Caution her not to be a jerk at the picnic and caution her to keep discriminatory opinions to herself.
– Evil Skippy
Ask your complaining employee why she brought this up. If it is a general feeling based on the co-worker’s sexual orientation as opposed to fears based on actual public conduct – your complaining employee needs to settle down. Her concerns would not be reasonable no matter how honestly she feels them. She has expressed those concerns to you as she was free to do. You may now tell her that the matter is closed and she is not to express such general sentiments at work again.
Every employee is entitled to his or her own opinions about anything. That does not mean it is appropriate for employees to say whatever might cross their employee minds at a particular time. Discriminatory opinions are a person’s private business, but employers can and should forbid employees from expressing those types of opinions at work.