you are a manager, and you realize that one of your employees repeatedly teases co-workers born in another country, saying that they come from a backward country with pagan beliefs. How would you decide whether its necessaryto respond to the situation? if you decide to intervene, what would your response be?
I would counsel the employee that was doing the teasing. Behavior such as this has no place in a professional organization. The behavior should not be accepted or tolerated for any reason. Every one must be treated with respect. This situation is counter productive to the business.
I, too, believe that as a manager it is one's job to intervene. The problems prejudice in the workplace should not be tolerated under any circumstances--ever. I would bring the employee into a meeting and discuss company policy regarding their behavior.
I agree with post 8, action needs to be swift, unequivocal, and private. While it may not be necessary to take serious disciplinary action, it is important that action is taken, and that the offended party is made aware that teasing them because of national origins or ethnicity is not tolerated. On the other hand, it seems to me that the workforce needs to be made aware of expectations regarding this sort of thing in training sessions. This is an increasingly serious problem that needs to be dealt with professionally.
Any intervention ought to be as brief, authoritative and impersonal as possible. If there is a code of conduct that protects the cilivity of the work place, this code should be invoked. For me, keeping the reprimand private would be important. The idea is to keep people from being teased, shamed, etc., so I wouldn't want to shame the employee who is behaving badly. That would be directly contradictory.
That kind of behavior is not appropriate, even if it is "teasing." Words still have the power to hurt, but the victims of the teasing may not feel they have power to say anything which really only makes the teasing worse and turns it into a kind of emotional bullying. The victims may not want to be labeled a tattle-tale; may fear worse teasing, or may fear losing their jobs. All of these situations are unacceptable in the workplace, and actually create grounds of a "hostile work environment" situation.
As a manger, it is your responsibility to intervene. Part of the managers job is to negotiate conflicts between employees. I think the first step is usually to have a private chat with the employee that is causing the problem. In this case, that would be the one initiating the teasing. Many companies have policies against bullying and an employee should be reminded of the company policies at this time. If the conversation fails to make an impression, the next step would be determined by the type of company and the general policies of that company. Some companies might send the instigator to some type of training. Another company might schedule the employee on a different shift from the person he/she is bullying. Some companies would consider the employee has had fair warning and terminate their employment.
This is not much different from dealing with unenlightened middle schoolers who use the "N" word or other language meant to intimidate minorities. First, I would talk with the employee who is being teased to find out if he is legitimately offended. If so, I would next speak with the offender and warn him that his seemingly innocent joking is not being received that way from the recipient. I would explain that such teasing borders on harassment, and that it really has no place in the work place. Needless to say, this may not solve the situation, but it does give the offending party a chance to clean up his act before being forced to take more serious actions.
This may be context specific. In the UK, such behaviour would be grounds for at least a disciplinary, as the behaviour of the worker would be counted as discrimination. I personally would be inclined to bring in the employee for a "little chat" and to explain the fact that I as an employer am legally responsible for making sure my workplace is free from discrimination.
You ask how to determine whether it is necessary to intervene. I think that you need to discuss the issue with the person who is being teased. It could be that he/she perceives this as good-natured teasing that shows that he/she is included as part of the team. The person being teased may also not want you to make a big deal of it so that it will not make them look like they are incapable of taking a joke. This might harm their ability to function well as a member of the group.
As a manager, one has a responsibility of ensuring a free and save business. such activities of employees are to be checked. The best way to see to this is by a private conversation with the offender, showing your disapproval of such activities and giving a warning. There might be a more defined way, but this is ma shot.