(Editor's note: Paul Hongo is the former deputy director of town affairs for the Town of East Haven.)
Think about where you work. If an employee posted something inappropriate on the company/union bulletin board and another employee found it to be offensive or threatening in nature, and subsequently reported it to his/her supervisor and/or the Human Resources Director, do you think the matter would go without further action? Of course not!
Most, if not all employers have zero (0) tolerance policies for behavioral issues such as hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and violence in the workplace. Employers have a legal responsibility to investigate every complaint that is brought to their attention, so why would the Town of East Haven be any different?
An employee, who happens to be a supervisor, as well as the union president, posted an article from the New Haven Register on the union bulletin board, which happens to be in the lunch room that is accesible to all employees, as well as members of the general public.
In itself, the newspaper article doesn't present a problem. However, the posting of seventeen (17) pages of blog comments which included disparaging comments about two (2) other employees, as well as a police commissioner and his son, is a problem.
One of the employees (a female), who happens to be represented by a different Local in the same Union (AFSCME), filed a formal grievance, as well as a formal complaint with the Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). Once that occurred, the Town was obligated to investigate the matter.
When questioned, the employee stated the seventeen (17) pages of blog comments followed when he printed the newspaper article. This is a lie. Everyone knows to post or read the blog comments, you must leave the newspaper article and click on the "comments" icon, and then print them out separately if you so desire.
To his credit, the employee did remove the seventeen (17) pages of blog comments when he was directed to do so. He also apologized to the female employee. In making his apology he stated he posted the comments without first reading them. Truthfully, his response is inexcusable; not only because he's a supervisor and the union president, but because less than two (2) weeks prior to the incident, he and all the other supervisors attended a five (5) hour formal training session that included among other topics, hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and violence in the workplace.
I started this by asking if your employer would follow up and investigate a formal complaint brought to their attention by one of its employees. I believe the answer would be a resounding yes.