Ethics Watch: Discriminating against others

At Skanska, our Code of Conduct sets the expectation that we treat others as we want to be treated. This month’s Ethics Watch describes how we dealt with an employee after we found that person to be discriminating against Hispanic employees.

The situation

Our Ethics and Compliance Committee received an anonymous report that a supervisor was calling Hispanic employees “Jose 1,” “Jose 2,” and so on. The report also alleged that the same supervisor was pulling offensive prank jokes on other employees.

The outcome

What our investigation found confirmed the allegations. This supervisor was disrespectful of Hispanic employees, so he was terminated.

The investigation also confirmed the abusive prank jokes. One of the pranks related to limiting employees’ ability to move about the project site by blocking walking paths with materials. Another one involved displaying an axe to employees who were laid off.  Such pranks wasted employees’ time and unnecessarily caused tension in the workplace. This type of behavior is very disrespectful and could lead to a hostile work environment. Although the pranks were not directed to a specific ethnic group of employees, they were a significant consideration in the decision to terminate the supervisor.

Cases are very fact specific which is one reason why our ethics committee conducts a thorough investigation on every report. In this case, the consequences demonstrate that Skanska does not tolerate workplace discrimination. Based on the information provided, do you think that the prank jokes would be sufficient basis alone for termination? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, and/or discuss with your colleagues.

Have an ethics question? Either talk to your supervisor, human resources or legal representative, or an ethics and compliance officer. To report an ethics breach, contact one of those professionals, call Skanska’s confidential ethics hotline at 877-516-3385 or use the ethics hotline link on One.Skanska.

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4 Responses

  1. The pranks are childish and unprofessional. Clearly this supervisor didn’t have enough to do if he/she had time for pranks, and perhaps was involving others in the planning of the pranks. Probably was the right decision to terminate. Sets a strong example.

  2. Totally agree with Keith. Not only does someone who has time to ‘think of and implement’ ways to hinder others not focusing on actual work, it also clearly speaks to his/her character. The ‘axe to employees who were laid off’ is nothing more than bullying. And yes…IMHO the pranks alone should be sufficient cause for termination.

  3. I agree with Keith and Janet. Skanska is right to adopt zero tolerance to bullying and disrespect for others.

  4. I agree that if you are hindering someone’s ability to work or wasting their time and productivity with “pranks” then you should be disciplined. Having a good rapport with your coworkers is one thing; wasting the company’s time and money on childish pranks is another. And I absolutely agree with zero tolerance for discrimination.

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