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Monday, October 15, 2018

An Analysis and Suggestions of SFZC Handling of Edward Brown case

Charles Kennedy posted on Facebook in a long string of comments following a cuke post about the situation with the SFZC and Edward Brown.

My response:
I'm not downplaying the substantial grief on all sides, as everyone's viewpoint has validity (I don't mean that in a generic way....each side is sincerely aggrieved based on substantive facts). However, this is analogous to a run-of-the-mill hostile work environment complaint. Given SFZC leadership's role in maintaining a platform for speech in front of diverse audiences, it is shockingly clear no planned policy was brought to bear on this incident. I don't even work in human resources and I can identify several important mistakes:
- Loss of confidentiality of the complaintant's statement (and other aspects of the process). 
- Not following up in a timely manner on communications. 
- Not gathering evidence & not establishing corroboration of the facts.
- Issues with Ed's "deportment" in the past are referenced. Is that established in the record? Most reasonable people can and will adapt their behavior to meet a clearly communicated threshold of expectations. Rather than obliquely referencing "past issues with deportment", there should be a *confidential record* of explicit warnings and identified corrective actions. Maybe there is a record? I don't know.
- Linking expressions of anger, acrimony & animus by one of the parties with the dismissal decision. 

Responding in a professional manner to an actual or perceived hostile work environment is well established policy & procedure. 

Expressed feelings of anger or acrimony should have no substantive effect on leadership's response. The letter of dismissal explicitly links expressed feelings of anger/acrimony/animus with the dismissal decision. *There is nothing to be gained from personalizing this process in a public format.* It could be interpreted as forewarning to the community that "those in leadership" shall not broker expressions of animus towards leadership without serious personal consequence. 

So.....leadership appears to embark upon addressing a hostile work environment complaint and (instead of gathering facts and working the process) attempts to resolve the situation by writing a public letter calling someone out as angry & acrimonious which, in part, justifies dismissal. 

*Just drive the bus please*! 

Write a hostile work environment response policy. Hire a HR professional to review it (or hire an HR person to develop it). Approve the policy by the board. *Work the policy* the next time this comes up! 

Easy enough to find faults in leadership. :)