By Kit Goldman, President of Workplace Training Network, Inc.
Characters: Shannon, H.R. professional at a fictional company in the automotive industry
Managers and employees
Scene 1: A training session. “Shannon” is at the head of the table with a flip chart.
S: Hi everyone. Thanks for coming. I’m Shannon Reese from corporate H.R. I’m here to explore a really important topic with you today. See this word here? (writes respect in huge letters on flip chart) “Respect”. Some of you may be old enough to remember the Aretha Franklin song. Lord knows I am.
Monty: That’s OK, Shannon. You’re an oldie but a goodie.
S: Thanks, Monty. I think. You know, that comment takes us right to our topic. Respect. What do you think? Could someone take offense at being called an “oldie but goodie” at work?
Dee Dee: Maybe. But you called yourself old first, so….
S: True, Dee Dee, but it’s different when someone else says it, dontcha think?
Monty: Ok. Delete the oldie. Just go with the goodie.
S: This is a really important topic. Otherwise we wouldn’t have you in here doing this instead of out there doing the company’s business. Any thoughts on why “respect” is so important?
Paul: Because of that what happened with Ray at the 4th Street store?
S: I see. Everyone knows about that?
Dee Dee: Are you kidding? The rumor mill’s the most efficient system in this place (everyone laughs)
S: OK, yes, what happened at 4th Street hurt everyone involved and the company. We got bad headlines and lost good customers and employees because of offensive, inappropriate, disrespectful conduct.
Paul: Come on, Shannon. It’s the PC police on the prowl. Ray’s good guy. He was just being himself.
Dee Dee: I heard the employee who filed the complaint about Ray worked for him or five years and never had a problem.
Gloria: Well, I’ve got a problem with it. I had 2 great applicants for service tech openings and lost them both. They heard about what happened, got concerned about how we treat our people, and went to work for our competitors. Those guys are hard to find. Major bummer.
S: Exactly, Gloria. And if we can’t attract the best employees, we can’t be the best. Another thing. Our customers are every race, religion, culture, age, lifestyle, you name it. If disrespectful, inappropriate conduct is going on in our workplace, it’s going to end up affecting our customers. It’s inevitable.
(To camera) You know, I want everyone, including you, to see what happened at the 4th Street store, so you can form your own opinions. Then we’ll come back and discuss it. You’ve been hearing about Ray, the manager. The incident you’re about to see involved Ray, Leslie, an employee, and Summer a customer. See what you think…
Dissolve to flashback
Scene 2: Store service counter. Leslie, a plain, older female sales associate is behind the counter on phone
L: (on phone) …yes, what you need is the 650-SRs….(Ray the manager enters, looking for something, overhears)… You want the battery packs?…..OK, so I’ll put the order in for you now…at least I’ll try… and you can pick these up anytime after 3. Name? (starts typing in to computer)… uh no…I’m sorry, I lost my screen…hold on.. I’m new to this system and it hates me…..aw, fiddledeedee…
R: (moves in takes the phone) Hi. I’m Ray, the manager. Sorry about that. (Kidding)Leslie’s not used to our “new fangled” computers yet….(laughs) yeah, when she started in the biz they used stone tablets for this stuff. (to Leslie) No offense, Leslie.
L: (subtle eye roll, phony smile) No problema.
R: (blows her a kiss. Mouths “love ya”) (on phone)….Name?…..still on 17th St.?….same credit card?….you’ve got it bud….thanks for calling. (hangs up). (jokingly) Sweetheart, when are you going to stop mourning your Selectric typewriter and get up to speed?
L: (refers to his bald head) When you grow some hair. Hey, don’t worry. I’ll get there. I have to since I’m probably getting that Service Manager promotion, right? Did you put in a good word for me about that like you promised?
R: Yes. I said you’re the hottest thing going and if men were your thing, I’d propose.
L: Ray, I’m serious. This is really important to me.
R: I know it is sweetheart, but lighten up. Yes. I pointed out you’ve got decades and decades of experience, that you’re like the history channel, and that….
L: ….That’s what you call “putting in a good word”?
R: It was said in a totally positive way. But..uh… anyhoo…bottom line is, Les …it, uh…it looks like we’re putting Jerrod in that slot..
L: (upset) Jerrod? You’ve got to be kidding! He’s still got acne!
R: Honey, don’t be upset. I’m doing you a favor. That position has super long hours, nights, you need tons of energy. Believe me, I’m too old for it! You need good computer skills. Jerrod grew up with computers. He’s a whiz. Plus, we need you out here doing what you do so well: taking care of our customers –as only a Jewish mother can!
L: (shakes head, sarcastic) Thank you so much.
R: You’re very welcome. In the interests of time, I’ll finish up this order or you…(he goes to computer)
“Summer”, a beautiful young female customer enters, walks to counter. Leslie goes to wait on her
L: Hi there, how can I help you?
S: I’ve got a terrible vibration in some of my equipment. I figured I shouldn’t go any further without checking it out. (Ray gives lascivious grin. Leslie glowers at him)
L: OK. (hands her clipboard) Fill in the highlighted info for me and I’ll…..(Ray moves to them, takes clipboard)
R: Leslie, go another round with your arch-enemy, the computer, OK? Finish that order. I’ll take care of this lovely young lady.
L: (obviously humiliated) Your wish is my command. (Moves to computer)
R: (to Summer) Let me get your info. Name?
S: Summer Santiago.
R: (writes) Beautiful name. Suits you. (chuckles) Leslie’s last name is Lesovit (leh-SO-vitt), but of course we say “less-of-it”! (Leslie shoots him look) (to Leslie) I’m kidding.(to Summer) She knows I’m kidding. Summer, how we can help you….
L: (Close up of Leslie’s face watching Ray. We see her emotions, hear her thoughts as voiceover) That’s it. I’ve had it. I like Ray. He’s a nice guy. But these put downs, the disrespect. I can’t take it any more. I thought it was clear I didn’t like it. OK, I get my licks in too. But in self defense! Anyway, I figured he was only joking. But he wasn’t. He thinks I’m too old to be Service Manager. Not feminine enough, cute enough, whatever. All those times I went home, cried, wrote about it in my journal, came in the next day with a smile on my face. (looks at watch) I’m on break in 5 minutes. (takes business card from purse) I’m calling that lawyer. Darn, I wish it hadn’t come to this!
Scene 3: Back to the training room
Shannon: So, Paul, still think it’s “PC Police on the prowl” that got Ray in trouble?
Paul: Not really. Not after seeing that
Shannon: (to group) See any inappropriate, disrespectful conduct?
Dee Dee: Are you kidding?
Shannon: Give me some specifics.
Gloria: Comments about her age.
Shannon: Exactly. The stone tablet and typewriter references.
Dee Dee: Calling her the History Channel.
Monty: I think he meant that as a compliment. (everyone gives him the hard stare). Obviously she was offended. He shouldn’t have said it.
Shannon: I’m glad you see that.
Gloria: Calling her honey and sweetie. Not very professional.
Shannon. Good observation. How did he handle the promotion issue?
Paul: Lousy. If she’s not qualified he should have explained why respectfully. Didn’t need to make her feel like an old shoe headed for the dumpster.
Shannon: Well said. Plus age discrimination is a legal issue. How was the customer affected?
Dee Dee: Ray’s disrespect toward Leslie made her uncomfortable.
Monty: And those sexy little comments and innuendoes. Man, Ray blew it.
Shannon: Yes. Manager’s set the tone for what goes on in the workplace and it needs to be one of respect. Right now, let’s go back to the 4th Street store and check out another incident, this time with Terrence, the Service Manager.
Scene 4: Ray behind counter with Terrance, an African American service manager
Terrance: (good natured) Man, there you go about OJ again. I’m not defending the guy, but you ever notice how it’s always you people going on those serial killing rampages. You don’t see brothers doing the Ted Bundy thing. Uh uh.
Ray: Oh really? What about that DC sniper? You’re encroaching on our territory! Same with golf! Nothing left for us white guys. (they both laugh)
Offstage voice: Hey Ray! We need you back here….
Alicia, female African American enters, overhears following comment
R: Take care of your homegirl. And tell her we don’t take food stamps (Chuckles. Terrance doesn’t. Ray exits. Terrance watches him, obviously disturbed)
T: Hey what’s up girl?
Alicia: (refers to Ray) Hey. What’s he saying about food stamps?
T: Forget about it. What’s up?
A: Can you do your lil’ sis a big ol’ favor and check on mom’s place over the weekend? (hands keys to him) I’m heading for the beach.
T: OK. You be good, hear? .
Offstage voices, loud laughter, Terrance’s name is heard. Ray enters, laughing
R: (speaking to guys offstage) …hey, watch out there Imus. You gotta be a rap star to say those things….
A: (shoots look at Ray, to Terrence). I’m outta here. (exits)
R: (watches her) That’s cute.
T: That’s my sister.
R: Oops. Casey needs you in the back.
Offstage voice: Hey Ray! We need you back here….
T: OK (hands Ray clipboard with paperwork on it) Can you look this over and sign off on it for me? By the way, you see those confederate flags Casey stuck on his thermos?
R: Yup. He’s a Southerner. It’s not a racial thing. His daughter’s married to a Latino, for God sake!
T: (shakes head, ironic laugh) I guess it’s OK, then. (phone rings, Terrence answers) Yo!…yeah, Casey, be right there. (hangs up. To Ray) I’m just saying. The flags. The racial jokes. The comments. Not just me. Couple service techs mentioned it was tickin’ them off. They wanted to bust him up over it
R: No black service techs work with Casey.
T: I know it’s hard to believe, Ray, but there’s white folks who don’t like that stuff either. Plus, Tommy’s wife is African-American, so…
R: Really? Get out! Tommy? Never would have guessed that
T: Anyway, just letting you know, man. ‘Cause it’s getting to be an issue. (Ray signs off on paperwork on clipboard, hands to Terrance. Terrance exits)
Ray: (call after him) An “issue”? What “issue”? (to viewer) We don’t say anything around here rappers and athletes don’t say all the time. Jokes? Terrence tells them all the time. We’re always joking around. Confederate flags? Come on. They’re tiny. On Casey’s thermos. His personal property. What’s the big deal? I think the real issue is I had to nail Terrence on some problems in his last performance review and he’s looking for something to blame. Let’s face it, filing a discrimination lawsuit is a great way to get rich quick. Maybe I should do something. Tell them to can the jokes when Terrence is there. But frankly, I’m up to here with this political correctness. Victim mentality. I’m not gonna be paranoid around my crew or walk on eggshells all the time. I am who I am. Popeye the Sailor Man. I may be a kidder, but I’m no racist!
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