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1) What Should Management Do About an Abusive Supervisor?
This challenge involves the behavior of Bernadine Pearce. Pearce was the supervisor of Michelle Ruppert, a clerk in the Office of the Tax Collector in the Borough of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Pearce worked at the local government for about 40 years.
Ruppert filed a lawsuit claiming that her boss and the office allowed a hostile work environment to exist. She had worked at the office for about three years at the time of the suit.
The hostility allegedly began on Rupperts first day at work. Upon arriving, Pearce showed her the Wall of Shame. Placed conspicuously in the main office, it contained a funeral urn with the ashes of problem employees. Ruppert noted that it resembled the way Adolf Hitler treated the disabled and the Jews during the Holocaust, with various nameplates of the employees who were exterminated or fired by Pearce.
The lawsuit alleges that Pearce stated that all personnel of her office should be perfect humans, as she believed she was.
Media reports about the situation allege that Pearce threw papers at Ruppert and called her a waste of a human being, encouraged Pearces daughter and coworker to give Ruppert the middle finger, and referred to Ruppert as a mess up who should just quit her job.
Ruppert ultimately experienced stress and anxiety and took sick leave for medical and psychiatric treatment. When she returned to work, Ruppert alleges that Pearce relocated her desk so that she had to look at the Wall of Shame, which now contained her name along with the others.
Addressing the Challenge
What would you do if you were the manager responsible for the entire office?
1.Settle the lawsuit and allow Bernadine Pearce to retire. While Pearces behavior is bad, she did give the city 40 years of her life.
2.According to what we learned about counterproductive behavior, you would settle the lawsuit and fire Pearce. Assuming the allegations are accurate, Pearces behavior deserves to be punished.
3.Settle the lawsuit and then retire because you allowed this abusive situation to exist.
4.Fight the lawsuit. If nothing else, this may help you reduce the payment that will be awarded to Ruppert.
5.Invent other options.
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