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Family Business Owners Fear Safety Resumes Assertiveness

My girlfriend has been working at a family-owned company for over fifteen years, and one of the younger family members cusses and yells, and his verbal abuse has brought my girlfriend to tears countless times. She is scared of him, but management does little but talk. Her retirement is around the corner, but I think she should report this to a labor relations official. What can you tell us?

This sounds like a family business that is putting extra emphasis on family, and minimal emphasis on business. When this occurs, it is not long before serious internal and external problems develop.

Before reporting this individual's behavior to outside parties, your girlfriend should literally report this to senior management. The best step is for her to document the outrageous behavior by "Junior," and then meet with management and go over it point by point.

Management, also known as the owners, needs to understand that Junior's behavior is causing significant exposure. The owners also need to see how they will benefit by taking specific action to deal with him. Your girlfriend should conclude by presenting some suggestions to correct the situation, and then asking management what they think. From that point, she should listen and observe.

If Junior continues his abuse and your girlfriend is truly scared, she should protect herself and leave. She should then review options for advice and counsel. When it comes to quitting or sticking around until retirement, the irony is that Junior is likely to let her know what to do.

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