Sitting in her office late on Friday afternoon, CEO Nancy Warner thought about how happy she was to have this job. “The opportunity to do what I love to do and find ways to make Community Hospital a great place to work has given me purpose in life,” she thought. Community Hospital in rural Oklahoma is the only hospital immediately accessible to the area’s 40,000 inhabitants.
Nancy Warner grew up on a farm in the area, went to a local community college to be a nurse, got a master’s degree in healthcare management, and a year and a half ago became the CEO of Community Hospital. She loved the opportunity and believed that part of her job was to make employees feel appreciated and enable them to be good employees.
Late on Friday afternoon, Nancy’s good week changed suddenly. HR director Ted Perry brought to her attention a problem with employee Joe Trosh. Joe, a maintenance worker, had been reprimanded by his supervisor for tardiness, and during a meeting with Perry to discuss his attendance problems, Perry noticed a bulge under Joe’s work jacket. Upon his inquiry, Joe stated that he had a permit to carry a concealed handgun. He went on to say that several of his fellow employees were not easy to get along with and on occasion they might “fly off the handle.”
He wanted to be prepared just in case something happened. He pointed out most of the maintenance workers were “good old boys” with gun racks in their pickup trucks that they had parked in the employee parking areas. Joe told Perry and his supervisor, “the law allows me to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense purposes.” Joe Trosh was a Native American who on occasion had been subject to “Indian jokes” from fellow employees. Some of the hospital employees did not appreciate the presence of a gambling casino at a nearby Indian reservation because the casino provided little tax revenue to the local community yet promoted an unhealthy, addictive behavior.
Joe had worked for the hospital for approximately five years and was considered to be a competent employee. An investigation revealed that several other native American employees said they had been “harassed by coworkers.” Nancy Warner was disturbed about these developments and wondered about whether the hospital was treating its Native American employees and other employees fairly.
(Critical Incident was adapted of a case developed by Ed Leonard, Ray Hilgert, and Mitchell Sherr, and published in Annual Advances in Business Cases1996, by the Society for Case Research (SCR). It was adapted with permission of the original authors and SCR for use in the 13th edition of Supervision Concepts and Practices of Management.)