Nick Barr, Personnel Manager of National Processing Inc., was managing the company's 530 unionized employees. During his stint as the Personnel Manager, Barr was challenged by a situation brought to his attention for proper action by one of the employees. A male employee complained of being sexually harassed by his female co-employees. The latter sneaked behind him and would grab his body parts while he is working. Nick Barr is looking into the actions he and the company should undertake to resolve the issue and protect the employees' welfare.
David Hannah, Sarah Lord Ferguson, Leyland Pitt
Harvard Business Review (NA0558-PDF-ENG)
September 01, 2018
Case questions answered:
- In this case study, “She Grabbed His What? A Personnel Manager’s Dilemma”, do you think this situation is sexual harassment or sexual assault? Why?
- What do you think Barr’s responsibility in responding to this situation? Why?
- What do you think Barr should do to prevent this from occurring again in the future? Why?
- How do you think employees feel working in this environment? Why?
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She Grabbed His What? A Personnel Manager's Dilemma - Case A Case Answers
1. In this case study, “She Grabbed His What? A Personnel Manager’s Dilemma”, do you think this situation is sexual harassment or sexual assault? Why?
The topic under discussion in the case “She Grabbed His What? A Personnel Manager’s Dilemma – Case A” relates more to sexual assault than sexual harassment. In this, Grant suffers from the problem where his coworkers, especially females, regularly touch his body parts, and the meaning of sexual harassment includes physically trying to touch the body.
Grant periodically suffers from the same situation for the last two weeks because he is under mental stress. He does such a job where there is a need for more physical labor, and it is challenging to do his job.
When doing his job while both hands are occupied or doing other things that he cannot search his back, his coworkers come and grab his body at that time. If he protects himself, there will be a danger of cutting his hands, so protecting himself will be very difficult for him. Because of these kinds of common practices by his female coworkers, he is under stress and lacks daily trust.
He is a young boy who does not have more work experience, and this work environment is new to him. Everything made it tough for him to adapt to this environment. He is probably not conscious of this type of sexual abuse in the workforce because of his young age.
Sexual assault is the most significant workplace problem, and strict action should be taken to deal with such situations. Appropriate policies should be formulated so that employees feel comfortable in the workplace and perform according to their abilities.
In the situation at hand, Grant was sexually harassed by his coworkers at the time when he was unable to hear any other sound due to the noise of computers and was doing any physical exercise. In these instances, he was not able to defend himself.
2. What do you think Barr’s responsibility in responding to this situation? Why?
Barr was mainly accountable for all labor relations and human resources management practices of staff members with the plant, including hiring, firing, handling grievances, and managing employment contracts.
In this case, Grant addresses this issue as to how his colleagues, over the past two weeks, have constantly sexually assaulted him. Instead of talking to the Supervisor, Grant shows more confidence in Barr.
Upon hearing the case, Barr’s sole responsibility is to…
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