Monday, April 09, 2007

Personal Insults on the Job

Recently we had a new manager start at the pharmacy I work at. He has recently divorced and seems very angry. After a few days of working together he started talking about my age (55) and didn't I live closer to another pharmacy. And then he told me I and my co-worker (age 64) were old and slow! I asked him directly if he meant that and he repeated it.

My co-worker is slowing down a bit, but she gets the job done and very well. I would not consider myself slow at all; I know all the insurance and am quite fast at typing.

These kinds of comments went on all day. Is there anything we can do to put a stop to it? And is it legal to make comments like these?

by Richard Yadon, CPC, Health Career Professionals, President/CEO

According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (amended in 1986), it is unlawful….

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's age;

(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's age.

Unless this is happening then there may not be any legal action you can take. The law does not protect employees from rude, insensitive, and unprofessional managers. That doesn’t mean, however, you have to endure this kind of behavior. Most hospitals and companies are very proud of their mission statements, values, ethics, and sense of fair and equal treatment of their employees. It would be hard to believe that your employer is an exception.

If you have not already done so, you could have a frank conversation with your manager. Tell him that you and your co-worker do not appreciate his attitude and especially his comments. Let him know that if he doesn’t stop you are going to speak with HR. I'm sure that your human resources department will take very swift action if they know about this behavior.

Richard Yadon is President/CEO of Health Career Professionals, which is an executive search and employee development company focused in the healthcare industry.

Susan Ireland's Two Cents
On October 30, 2006 Guy Kawasaki posted Book Review: The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton, which I believe is relevant here. The full name of Sutton’s book is The No Asshole Rule: How to Build a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn’t. In the second half of Guy’s post is an excerpt from Sutton’s book in which he lists seven ways to “Deal With Assholes.” Check it out. It might help deal with workplace situations where insults are handed out and other abusive behavior exists.

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email ( it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.

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