Author Topic: Boss sharing innappropriate email  (Read 5406 times)

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Syfygeek

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Boss sharing innappropriate email
« on: July 04, 2013, 10:34:57 AM »
I was in our volunteers office Wednesday when Boss stuck his head in the door and said "hey, you want to see this email from "friend of museum"? It's hysterical."

So volunteer and I follow boss to his office where he opens email from "friend".  It's a lolcat style picture of Paula Deen, captioned with "nword, y'all want some pie?"

Volunteer laughs, and asks him to forward it to her. I was stunned, and all that came out of my mouth was "you need to get that off your computer."

I can't believe that he thought it was appropriate to show that email, and I'm sort of appalled that volunteer, who is much older and I really respect her, wants to send this email on.

I do not want to get this thread closed by rehashing Paula Deen, I need guidance on how to work professionally with 2 people who have lost my respect.

(I'll be honest, part of me wants to call IT guy and tell him to run a "random" email check and let the fallout take care of boss, but I know nothing would come of it)
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lorelai

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 12:37:48 PM »
What a terrible situation to be in. Is your relationship with your boss or volunteer one in which you can be honest about how you feel about this? If it is then I would say something like:

"I was really surprised to see that email about PD and wish I had said so at the time, but it felt inappropriate for the workplace. I didn't expect to see you laugh about something like that, and of course it's your right, but perhaps we could avoid things like that in the future here."

If not, then I would keep things polite and professional and distant, until someone in this trio leaves the workplace for good.

Marguette

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 12:42:27 PM »
I think your initial honest reaction was very good.

After that, cool and polite, professional and distant just as lorelai said.

If it ever comes up again, or if they ask you about the coolness, my answer would be ”[reference to email that day]. I was shocked that you would find it funny, and that you thought it appropriate to share with us. Since that day, I don’t have the same opinion of you that I used to,” or something along those lines.

nonesuch4

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 09:11:47 AM »
I think my reaction would be very much the same as the OP.

I have an acquaintance who works in HR for a large employer who had to coach someone for use of that word. 

In another life, an employer said something bigoted.  I thought he was having a bad day of something (I was very young and naive)   Later, it turned out he had all kinds of moral shortcomings.  He got along really well with one of our co-workers.  She got all the extra hours, they joked.  All was well.  One day we came in and the whole atmosphere was different.  She could do nothing right.  Finally she gave her two week notice. 

At lunch with me just before she left she told me he'd suggested renting an apartment near work so they could have an affair.  When she said no, that's when everything changed.

I try not to be cynical, but now when people do unexpected things, I don't just assume they are acting "out of character." 

goldilocks

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2013, 01:20:56 PM »
I had a "higher-up" share a sexually based email with me.   I pretended I didn't understand -

What are they doing?
Why are they doing that?
I don't get it - can you explain again?

He's never shown me another thing.   Not sure it would have helped here.

bonyk

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 01:28:03 PM »
My boss makes racist and misogynistic jokes all the time.  I usually just let my jaw hit the floor and walk away as soon as possible.

These are not your friends; you don't have to respect them.  Just focus on work.

Promise

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2013, 02:24:19 PM »
That was inappropriate to share in my opinion. I also think it's important to be aware that we are also being judgmental when we put our opinion of what we think is appropriate/inappropriate on other people and then hold them accountable to our standards. Now, to be clear, I wouldn't do this and I think it a lack of good judgement to assume that others would find it funny since it is controversial and not funny. However, again, we are being intolerant of them and what they think is funny and appropriate humor when we say they should or shouldn't do something. Your statement that you now don't have respect for that person could be interpreted as bigoted and biased. Again, I agree with you that it was inappropriate, but to judge them is being intolerant.

Perfect Circle

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2013, 03:54:00 PM »
That was inappropriate to share in my opinion. I also think it's important to be aware that we are also being judgmental when we put our opinion of what we think is appropriate/inappropriate on other people and then hold them accountable to our standards. Now, to be clear, I wouldn't do this and I think it a lack of good judgement to assume that others would find it funny since it is controversial and not funny. However, again, we are being intolerant of them and what they think is funny and appropriate humor when we say they should or shouldn't do something. Your statement that you now don't have respect for that person could be interpreted as bigoted and biased. Again, I agree with you that it was inappropriate, but to judge them is being intolerant.

No it is not. To make clear it isn't tolerated is taking a stand against racism, against bigotry, against discrimination.

That does not make one wrong. It makes one right for standing up for the right reason.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2013, 03:58:44 PM »
That was inappropriate to share in my opinion. I also think it's important to be aware that we are also being judgmental when we put our opinion of what we think is appropriate/inappropriate on other people and then hold them accountable to our standards. Now, to be clear, I wouldn't do this and I think it a lack of good judgement to assume that others would find it funny since it is controversial and not funny. However, again, we are being intolerant of them and what they think is funny and appropriate humor when we say they should or shouldn't do something. Your statement that you now don't have respect for that person could be interpreted as bigoted and biased. Again, I agree with you that it was inappropriate, but to judge them is being intolerant.

I think it is completely OK to be intolerant. And to be judgmental.

We're supposed to decide not to tolerate things that *we* think are egregiously wrong.
And to make negative judgments about things we strongly disapprove of.


Twik

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 04:24:03 PM »
Your statement that you now don't have respect for that person could be interpreted as bigoted and biased. Again, I agree with you that it was inappropriate, but to judge them is being intolerant.

Well, that's kind of judgmental and intolerant in itself, is it not?
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TootsNYC

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2013, 04:34:17 PM »

Your statement that you now don't have respect for that person could be interpreted as bigoted and biased. Again, I agree with you that it was inappropriate, but to judge them is being intolerant.


Bigoted and biased is to make a negative assumption based merely on someone's skin color or ethnic/racial/physical makeup. Things they don't have that much control over, or that aren't actually related to the subject in question (like deciding that overweight people are stupid, since weight doesn't have much to do w/ intelligence).

It's not bigoted to lose respect for someone because of their own *voluntary behavior*. Nor is it biased to decide that someone is rude and nasty when they BEHAVE in a rude and nasty way.

whatsanenigma

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2013, 05:55:52 PM »
I am wondering if the intent was actually not to be racist, but to make fun of PD.

I guess I would have to see the actual picture for context.  If it's a serious picture, I would think it was probably racist, but if PD had a goofy look on her face or something like that, I would think that the intent was to mock PD, which, if that were the case, might be seen as a statement against racism.  Not the way I personally would choose to take a stand against racism.  But maybe it was a well-intentioned attempt that just missed the mark.

I don't know if that would make the picture okay, though, especially not at work.  It's just too touchy of an issue and could be taken multiple ways.  I think if I were you, and it comes up again, I would refer to it as "the picture making fun of PD" and see how that flies.  If there is agreement, you are cool.  If you get shocked looks or outright denial that this is what it was, then you know what those people are really like.

In any case, I would just pretend like it didn't happen, just be civil and professional at work, unless something else happens.

PastryGoddess

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2013, 06:13:59 PM »
There are lots of ways to make fun of Paula Deen without using the N-word.

Surianne

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2013, 06:18:09 PM »
I'm not sure I understand what the issue is here -- it seems clear to me that the boss was making fun of people who would say words like the N-word.  There's no way I'd jump to thinking he was racist after this. 

I think your initial honest reaction was very good.

After that, cool and polite, professional and distant just as lorelai said.

If it ever comes up again, or if they ask you about the coolness, my answer would be ”[reference to email that day]. I was shocked that you would find it funny, and that you thought it appropriate to share with us. Since that day, I don’t have the same opinion of you that I used to,” or something along those lines.

I think that's a very inappropriate thing to say to a boss, and it won't result in anything good.

Joeschmo

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Re: Boss sharing innappropriate email
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2013, 01:33:00 AM »
That was inappropriate to share in my opinion. I also think it's important to be aware that we are also being judgmental when we put our opinion of what we think is appropriate/inappropriate on other people and then hold them accountable to our standards. Now, to be clear, I wouldn't do this and I think it a lack of good judgement to assume that others would find it funny since it is controversial and not funny. However, again, we are being intolerant of them and what they think is funny and appropriate humor when we say they should or shouldn't do something. Your statement that you now don't have respect for that person could be interpreted as bigoted and biased. Again, I agree with you that it was inappropriate, but to judge them is being intolerant.

It could only be interpreted as bigoted if you misunderstand what the word means.  I am comfortable being intolerant of those who hate people based on being born different from them.