The Chairman’s Jokes

Author: Ralf Mehnert-Meland
Publisher: International Journal of Instructional Cases

Abstract

IJIC, Volume 2 (2018)

Synopsis

Thomas recently joined a French company as General Manager of its US operations. His immediate supervisor, the Chairman of the Board, displayed inappropriate behavior, such as telling offensive jokes with sexual, racist and discriminatory content in business and social settings. The behavior was known to the HR department and against company policy. The students should assess Thomas’s situation from legal, management and HR perspectives and consider parallels to the #MeToo Movement.

Keywords

Management; Human Resources; Discrimination; Harassment; #MeToo Movement

Target Audience and Usage

This teaching note is suitable for students at the undergraduate level. It focuses on adult audiences in human resource, leadership and management courses. The case is best introduced in the middle of a teaching term after general management, HR and legal concepts have been discussed. The focus areas are the identification of behavior that may constitute harassment or discrimination and application of an actual anti-harassment policy on the case scenario. An important aspect is that the main character is basically limited to two options: accept unacceptable and illegal behavior from his supervisor or leave the company. This is a good example of introducing a real-world business event with which students may find themselves confronted during their lives and business careers. It also allows a discussion of the sexual harassment and assault instances uncovered through the #MeToo Movement starting in 2017.

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