(en) grate news from KFC

Lyn Gerry (redlyn@loop.com)
Thu, 25 Sep 1997 23:14:01 +0000

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 25 Sep 1997 20:27:17 -0700 (PDT) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject: grate news from KFC

Judge: Lewd talk in workplace was aimed at improving worker morale __________________________________________________________________________ 1997 The Associated Press

SUPERIOR, Wis. (September 25, 1997 6:33 p.m. EDT http://www.nando.net)

-- A Kentucky Fried Chicken worker who quit over her managers' explicit remarks -- such as the suggestion that women employees get a Colonel Sanders tattoo on their breasts -- was denied unemployment benefits by a judge who said the talk may have been an attempt to boost morale. "Use of vulgar and obscene language and terms can serve to promote group solidarity," wrote Charles Schaefer, an administrative law judge who hears unemployment cases. "To the extent that it was intended to promote this end, it would have been an effort to achieve a legitimate business goal.' June Lauer quit her $9.10-an-hour job of 13 years in June because of the managers' vile language, which included referring to women managers as "bitches," references to oral sex and male genitalia, and a manager asking whether Lauer was "on the rag." While the judge conceded the language was unprofessional, he said it was "essentially locker room talk" and not an invitation to sexual contact. "She is shocked and stunned like I am," Chris Gramstrup, Lauer's attorney. Lauer was at work Thursday at her new job at a day-care center and not immediately available for comment. "If that type of language and activities are a morale-booster that furthers a legitimate business purpose, then that is news to me," Gramstrup said. "I don't know that type of situation has ever boosted the morale of employees." The ruling, released earlier this month, has been appealed, and a sexual harassment complaint filed with the state's equal rights division is pending. When a reporter asked Schaefer about his ruling, he defended the idea that foul language can build morale. "Isn't that true? Haven't you seen that kind of locker-room talk bolster morale?" he said. "I have seen that it has that effect or that it is intended to promote that effect." But the judge's decision even surprised Jim Bratley, who owns the Superior restaurant in question and eight other KFCs. He said he doesn't know how Schaefer concluded that vulgar and obscene language might increase worker morale. "Management doesn't condone any of that," he said. Eric Hansen, the regional manager for nine KFC restaurants, said the manager responsible for most of Lauer's complaints, identified in court papers as "Ben," was new and had a tendency to make unprofessional comments. Lauer, 38, said "Ben" would announce on the store's loudspeaker that he wanted to turn the restaurant into a strip bar and that female employees should get tattoos of Colonel Sanders on their breasts. Lauer, who quit without complaining about the lewd talk, said the conversations made her "angry that kind of behavior is allowed in a family restaurant." The judge wrote that Lauer never complained and that there was evidence she was amused or went along with some of the risque talk. Lauer's attorney denied she went along with the behavior. Mike Tierney, a KFC spokesman at the company's headquarters in Louisville, said he was unaware of the dispute and needed to investigate it before commenting. KFC has more than 9,900 restaurants worldwide.

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