Who’s telling the truth?
In spite of its name, the Four State Medical Supply Corporation was in fact one of
the largest distributors of medical supplies and materials in the nation. Four State
served hospitals and medical offices throughout the South. Joan Lloyd joined Four
State as manager of the Information Systems Division not quite a year ago. Joan
had been an Information Systems Department manager in a metropolitan hospital
for five years prior to moving to Four State. Joan’s department handled the com-
puter information system at Four State.
The Information Systems Department was organized into three main groups: sys-
tems planning and analysis, data entry, and computer operations. All 36 people in
the department shared the fourth floor of the Four State headquarters building. Even
though most of the staff worked in the normal 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift, there
was round-the-clock coverage in computer operations. The nonmanagement per-
sonnel in her department belonged to the Information Workers Union, Local 818.
During her first year on the job, Joan spent much of her time working with other
managers to improve the performance of the company’s information processing sys-
tems. As such, she had little daily contact with the employees in her department,
although she knew them and felt that she was on generally friendly terms with each.
She relied on her group supervisors to handle the ongoing supervision of employees.
One day, on her way back from a meeting, Joan ran into Brenda Upton at the ele-
vator. Brenda worked as a data entry clerk in the Data Entry Department, which
was supervised by Wilma Lane. Wilma reported directly to Joan. Brenda was also
the shop steward for the unionized employees in the division, and she was known
for her aggressive representation of employees in grievance matters. Brenda would
advocate for an employee even when the nonunionized employees in the department
had good reason to believe that the employee was wrong. This relentless pursuit to
protect union members made her disliked by many in management and elsewhere.
When Joan encountered Brenda at the elevator, Brenda asked Joan if she could
privately speak with her as soon as possible. Joan had some free time at the moment
because of a cancelled meeting and invited Brenda into her office.
Brenda promptly took a seat in front of Joan’s desk and came straight to the
point: “I’m being sexually harassed by Mtombe Akilo, and I want you to make him
stop. There are others who will support what I’m saying.” Mtombe Akila was a
senior computer operator and supervised the midnight to 8:00 a.m. work shift.
This revelation was about the last thing Joan expected from Brenda.
“Brenda, I’m a little surprised,” Joan said as she tried to recall any prior indica-
tions that there could be a problem here. “Tell me what happened.”
Brenda looked directly at Joan as she told her: “It’s happened a couple of times
over the past six months or so. I’ll be sitting at my terminal, doing my work, and
when there’s no one around, he’ll rap on the glass partition, then hop on the work