My colleagues and I at Fast Track recently received this e-mail from a reader:
I started my first real job about a year ago and have a good rapport with my coworkers (as is necessary when working in a collaborative work environment). However, there is one, we’ll call him “Fred,” who is causing me some stress. Fred will frequently slam his keyboard into his desk, loudly curse, and generally disrupt the workplace environment. I never feel personally threatened, but it is disruptive and unprofessional. Fred and another coworker started dating last year, which led to a good amount of office drama, and their subsequent breakup (police were involved), led to more office drama that I cannot even begin to recount while keeping this brief.
Fred has been reported to HR several times, but most recently he was sent home because of a fight with his ex-girlfriend/coworker. This led to a meeting with HR and he may or may not be back tomorrow, depending on their decision. In the meantime, our boss has told us that if at any time we feel that our work environment is not safe, secure, professional, or positive, we are more than welcome to go talk to him and voice our concerns. My main question now is, in the event that Fred returns to the office, what is the difference between complaining about Fred’s workplace habits (again, I never feel threatened) and keeping our boss informed about the workplace environment? Where is that line drawn? I worry that if I go talk to our boss about him (or any other concerns I may have), that I will be seen as a complainer and a tattler. Can you help me figure out that line?
What would you do in this scenario? For our advice, head over to Fast Track.