What is oppression, and what measures can be taken to eliminate it from the workplace? Explain.
Review the following scenario, and respond to the questions that follow:
Kevin is a hardworking salesperson at a local department store in a small town. He is a great salesperson and takes pride in his work. He is single and is new to the area.
When Kevin first started, he was introduced to everyone by Sally, his trainer. They went to the break room, and Sally said to enjoy the remainder of his break and left. Shortly after she left, one of the employees introduced himself to Kevin and made a lewd remark about Sally. The other male employees sitting in the break room laughed and made similar comments under their breath. Kevin remained silent and changed the subject.
Kevin’s friend Ned who he met playing volleyball works in a business that is close to Kevin’s store, so they go out to lunch on a regular basis. One day, Ned picked up Kevin to go to lunch and his coworkers saw them. Another time, when they were on their way to a game after work, one of his coworkers ran into them. Since then, whenever Kevin enters the break room, the other male employees give him the silent treatment. It seems that whenever he leaves the break room, the other male employees erupt into laughter. At other times when he approaches his coworkers, they abruptly stop talking and glance secretively at one another. It becomes clear to Kevin that some of his fellow employees seem not to like him, but he is not sure why.
Because of his strong work ethic and customer service skills, Kevin is promoted to assistant manager. This creates tension among the other employees who have worked there for a longer period of time. During his first week as assistant manager, Kevin asks Bill and Ted to help him stock the new shipment of merchandise throughout the store. Bill and Ted reluctantly start to help him unload the truck. Kevin leaves them to finish the job and returns to the floor. He returns later to find them on an unscheduled break. Bill is on his cell phone and Ted is found smoking a cigarette out behind the store. Much of the merchandise still remains in the truck. Kevin decides that they should be written up for the infraction.
Weeks later, Kevin’s boss, Frank, calls him into the office. He explains that there have been some complaints from customers about Kevin. Without giving much detail, Frank explains that the company’s image is very important for sales and customer satisfaction. He goes on to explain that family values are very important to the image of the store and the community. He continues to say that Kevin’s sales are not what they used to be and that there were some errors on the invoices. He goes on to say that it is unfortunate, but it is just not going to work out. He finishes by stating that the company has a policy that an employee may be let go for any reason and he is terminated.
Kevin protests and asks Frank to explain why he is being fired but Frank says that his decision is final and that the matter is closed.
In terms of sociological analysis, what do you make of this situation? Is there anything Kevin can do?
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