Ethical Scenario - Crossing the line?

The Maple Leaf
July 2016

Claude is a senior analyst reporting to his director, Rochelle. Fernando is an administrative assistant who also works for the director. One day, as Claude is walking through the unit heading to the director’s office to ask her about something, he hears Rochelle in the midst of a confrontation with Fernando, who’s just ahead of him in the hallway.

Rochelle is speaking loudly from inside her office, and from there she can’t see if anyone else except Fernando is outside her office or not. She is lecturing Fernando through the open door on how bad a filing job he has done.

“It was a simple task, but you don’t have the common sense to do it in a way that actually helps me,” she says to Fernando, in a voice heavy with sarcasm. “Just redo it exactly the way I told you, and get it done for me by two this afternoon, or my day is completely f’ed up!”

Claude can see Fernando is clearly upset and Fernando doesn’t reply, but is returning to his desk with his head bowed. Claude saw that Fernando glanced quickly at him as he was walking away from Rochelle’s office. There are apparently no witnesses to this scene except for the three of them, though Rochelle was loud enough that people probably could have heard her berating someone in the next section across the empty kitchen.

Claude knows that Fernando is having some trouble getting settled into the team since he took the job a month ago, and seems a little anxious. Also, this isn’t the first time Rochelle has been very direct and expressive in her criticisms to various staff.

Claude is able to work with Rochelle most of the time, but she does have a short fuse and sometimes acts unprofessionally when expressing her feelings. She can also be defensive about criticism. He feels badly for Fernando, but we are all supposed to be adults here.

Claude is wondering how he should react to this scene. He thinks it’s not really his business and it was maybe just bad timing. Still, this kind of behaviour is not something anyone should have to observe at work, in his opinion.

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