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Scenario: Lunch-Time Reading Material

Linda likes to take her lunch break alone and do some reading. She’s sitting at a table in the break room as usual. Edward enters the break room to get his lunch out of the refrigerator and notices what she’s reading. “Fifty Shades of Gray, huh? That’s the sexy one, right? Are you in to that kind of thing?” Linda looks uncomfortable.

As a supervisor, what should you consider?

  1. Linda brought the book and was reading it in view of other employees: she shouldn’t be surprised by Edward’s comments.
  2. Linda shouldn’t bring that kind of reading material to work.
  3. Linda can bring her own choice of reading material, but perhaps she can read from a Kindle or use a book jacket to conceal
  4. This isn’t Linda’s fault at all. Edward shouldn’t have said anything about the book.

Should you, as a supervisor, say something immediately to address the situation? Or should you talk to Linda and / Edward privately later?

Remember to reference the scenario answers listed earlier: 
  • Stick with your company’s policy.
  • Listen to your employees. Treat their complaints and discomforts seriously. Never dismiss a complaint without investigating it.
  • If it’s not covered by your company’s policy, request that the policy be updated with guidance from HR or legal counsel.
  • Share your difficulties with your own superiors and HR department.