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Case of Humorous Harassment

Category 1: Interpersonal Dynamics


Brian is a male chemistry laboratory instructor in a large community college that employs many adjuncts. He is very popular with most students as he is known to give them algorithmic solutions to help them finish labs early. Sam is an undergraduate male in Brian’s class. One day Brian is entertaining faculty colleagues in the department office by relating how he was able make Sam turn red by incessant teasing. Angelo is a recently tenured faculty member from another country and he is offended by this incident. This incident is part of a long-line of events that seem counter to Angelo’s ideas of an ethical way to behave in an academic environment. Angelo therefore files a complaint with the institution EEO office about this behavior.

Stage 1

What action do you think WAS taken by the Supervisor?

A. Brian was asked to meet with the supervisor and the EEO officer for the university for guidance.

B. The supervisor assumed that the incident was merely two individuals who didn't interpret the situation the same way due to differences in their cultural backgrounds. He decided there are two sides to every story, and they have equal merit, so nothing was done.

C. Brian was asked to change this behavior.

D. Brian filed countercharges against Angelo for being a damper on "fun" in the department.

E. Angelo was warned that he needed to keep a low profile if he wanted to keep his job, and thus be eligible for permanent residence in the United States.

Stage 2

What action do you think SHOULD have been taken by the Supervisor?

A. Take Brian aside and remind him of the institution's harassment policies.

B. Report Brian to the department chair.

C. Recognize that Brian's treatment of Sam is really just male bonding and join in the fun of this shared story.

D. Take Brian aside and remind him of the institution's harassment policies.

E.F. Use this incident as an excuse to deny Angelo further promotion since he doesn't fit the tradition enjoyed by most of the department.

G. Faculty should initiate regular discussions on professional behavior.