Police Officer
Surrey Police
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Employee caused offence - is there a balance?

Employee caused offence is there a balance

I have recently had dealings with a case where an employee (person A) was allegedly caused offence by a remark during a light hearted email exchange and I have tended to fall in favour of the supposed 'offender' (person B).
'A' emailed 'B' and remarked that she had popped in to see 'B' but had missed them as they had gone home early. This email had other persons cc'd. The suggestion of going home early was absolute presumption.
[note: face to face not possible due to shifts]
'B' was unimpressed at the promulgated suggestion that they had sloped off but wanted to address it without making an issue and so sent:
"Oi - I'll have you know I had gone to a meeting and in fact worked an 11 hour day young lady"
'A' responded to 'B' that she was offended by the 'young lady' remark and consequently I became involved.
I have to say, I am struggling to support 'A' on either ageist or rudeness. I am more inclined to advise that on occasions, people need to lighten up and be less oversensitive as both parties involved are good in their roles and are not problem persons. There really must be a line where offensive behaviour actually becomes 'oversensitive recipient'?
I'd be interested in your thoughts as those of my own peer group I have consulted have retorted with such as, "Whaaat?" and the such!
Perhaps I am just a dinosaur?
David Atkinson


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21st Jan 2008 10:00

Interesting - I think both have over reacted. B didn't want to make an issue of it but that is what her email did. She would have been better off making it more formal by saying something like "Sorry I missed you, was in a meeting."

This I guess raises the issue of how to get the "tone" right in an email - or even in a post such as this.

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By LiamD
22nd Jan 2008 12:28

I wonder what the thought process was of "A" to send an email and cc it? Is there some existing bad blood between them?
"B" response might be verbally tongue in cheek, but written down could be offensive.

Upshot is, they both did not communicate as well as they could have. Get them in a room together and share some common sense with them. Kiss and make up. Oh, maybe not...

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22nd Jan 2008 11:30

I think this is a classic case of where e-mail can be inappropriate and can add fuel to the fire.

If B's comment had been made face-to-face, it would have likely been taken in the light-hearted manner in which it was meant.

Similarly, if A hadn't copied in others and it was just a one-to-one conversation or a note or a voicemail, B wouldn't have worried that the others thought they were slacking off!

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