As far as putting the two men on probation, in my opinion, the supervisor made the correct decision in “sitting on the idea”. He confronted the men about the situation and listened to their side. Chances are the men were merely angry about having their photographs and calendars taken down. The supervisor should warn the men that comments of that nature do not belong in the workplace and that future comments of that nature will not be tolerated. He should let them know that, even though they were speaking to one another, if comments are spoken out loud and can be heard by others the comments had best be fit to be heard by all. Should any future conversation of an inappropriate nature be overheard, then the men should be reprimanded and put on probation.
Because the supervisor removed the photographs and calendars it would be very difficult to prove sexual harassment or that the work environment was hostile. Of course there are those that would disagree. It could be argued that allowing the provocative photographs to be displayed in the first place made the work environment hostile and opened the doors to some form of sexual harassment. It is most likely true that the photographs were offensive and probably not only offensive to Barbara but other employees as well. However, freedom of expression is one right that we do possess in this country.
Unless the pictures were considered to be pornographic in nature the men should have been given a place to display them. It can be argued that any person can find any picture/photograph offensive no matter the nature of it. For example, if someone were of the Buddhist religion and there was a picture of Jesus hanging on the wall, one could assume it would offend that person. If it is the case that all pictures that someone could find offensive be removed then all wall hangings of all natures should be taken down. Unless written guidelines describing what is and is not acceptable exist then the photographs did not create a hostile environment
It could also be argued that the content of the conversation between the two male employees creates a work environment that is hostile. The conversation was gender-based and it was unwelcome to its target (Barbara). I don’t disagree with these facts, however this only meets two of the five criteria (criteria 1 and 4) that must be met and the conversation was most likely generated out of anger. The men were merely looking for someone to blame and because Barbara was the one to go to the supervisor she was the one they blamed. As far as we can tell this was the male employee’s first offense and one single isolated event doesn’t prove sexual harassment or a hostile work environment.
As stated earlier the photographs and calendars were probably offensive in nature. It is also possible that they offended other employees, even male employees. With that in mind, although they were inappropriate and offensive, a hostile work environment did not exist because of the photographs and calendars. Even after the offensive material was removed and the two make employee made inappropriate comments, a hostile work environment did not exist. Sexual harassment would be hard to prove, the supervisor no the company perpetuated or condoned the behavior and the harassment was neither severe nor pervasive. The overall workplace was not pervaded with sexual harassment and Barbara was not hindered from doing her job and performing her duties.