Bad Hearing

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about possible racial misunderstanding due to hearing loss:

I may be working at a restaurant soon but my manager and co-workers all have heavy accents and I have bad hearing. I don’t want to be annoying or look racist by asking over and over what they said. How can I make this situation better for me and my co-workers?

Signed: Don’t Want To Be Seen As Racist

Dear Don’t Want To Be Seen As Racist:

From what you say, you aren’t yet employed in a restaurant that has a manager and co-workers who have language that you might not be able to understand. Having a language different from yours doesn’t mean that they have as you put it “heavy accents”; it’s just that their manner of speaking is different from what you are used to—when speaking and hearing.

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Spreading Rumor I Am Gay

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about gay gossip: My manager is spreading rumors about my sexuality.
I work for a fast food restaurant. I’m 17. Two of my co-workers, a drive-through girl and a cook, who don’t socialize with each other, both told me the exact same story that my much older female manager is spreading rumors saying I’m gay. This could cause many co-workers to have a different attitude toward me. When the cook took up for me saying he’s not gay, she replied, “Well I don’t know that he is, but I think he is.”

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Racism in the Workplace – An Accusation Made Against Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a reference to someone’s skin color resulting in a suspension.

On Wednesday I was suspended from work for a couple of comments I made about someone’s skin colour. It was a cheap attempt at a joke and the person. I consider the person I said it to to be a friend. There was another person involved in the conversation, who I believe has made the accusation against me.

On reflection I completely agree that my comments could be interpreted as racist, but without question there was no malicious intent. I do not consider myself to be in anyway a racist.

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Difficult Employee When Corrected Charges Racism

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about how do I handle a difficult employee who is creating a hostile work environment?
I have an employee that is constantly saying the company is racist. This particular employee is not a good performer and is making a hostile work environment! Every time this particular person is written up for various infractions, they scream racism. Everyone is disciplined fairly. It is not fair to everyone else who follows the rules. HR will do nothing! How can I handle this employee and make this a positive experience for everyone else in the department?

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Accusation of Taking A Photo Escalated To Write-Up and Firing

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being fired:
I was fired for taking a photo that I didn’t take, wouldn’t sign a write up, and I was deemed insubordinate.
I went in early to my job to inquire about some hours for which I hadn’t received pay on for a few months. I had been inquiring on these hours for some time now. The lady to whom I spoke was very rude when I asked her about the information. She told me I would have to come back around 4 p.m. when the next person in charge would be here and would have the answers.

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Husband Barred From Bar

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about presence of husband at spouse’s workplace:

Can my boss tell me my husband can’t be at the bar while I’m on shift if he is a paying costumer and has come here before I am employed here? I feel like I’m. being discriminated.

Boss Says No To Husband

Dear Boss Says No To Husband:

Barring your husband from the bar while you are on the shift is not discrimination. Most likely it is simply that your boss doesn’t want you favoring him or for spousal interpersonal problems surfacing. It is a local job-specific rule you have to work with if you are to work there. Discrimination is a term that applies to areas such as race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and possibly physical appearance.

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Rumours I Am Gay or Bisexual

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about sexuality: Someone has spread a rumor I’m gay or bisexual. It is widespread. This is something I have ignored for nearly two years hoping it will go away. But not so. This is not in any way true, but I’m stuck with it.

I work in an office in a company of over eight hundred employees. Someone has spread a rumor I’m gay or bisexual. It is widespread. This is something I have ignored for nearly two years hoping it will go away. But not so. This is not in any way true, but I’m stuck with it. I hope to have my new wife work here in the future; however, I’m worried about the way she will be treated. I fear everyone will assume the rumor is true and that she just doesn’t know what they consider to be the truth. It’s driving me round the bend. I have been thinking of hiring a private detective to get the truth out so I can address this horrible situation. What can I do?

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Boss Makes Blonde Comments

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about stereotype remarks about hair:

What should I do about my boss always telling me that I’m blonde?

Signed, Tired of Hearing It

Dear Tired of Hearing It:

I assume you mean that your boss says your mistakes or misunderstandings at work are because you are a blonde, or that you may not be a blonde, but you act like one—meaning that blondes aren’t very intelligent. “Blonde jokes” are out-of-date and never were funny. They are a movie stereotype from decades ago: Silly, self-absorbed, focused more on shallow conversation than on work–and not being skillful about their work when it requires intelligence and good judgment. What a stereotype to assign to a hair color, based on movies! Sometimes, such remarks are meant in an affectionate and friendly way and are not meant to imply the person is lacking in intelligence. However, sometimes such remarks are meant in an insulting way. Rather than saying, “That was a stupid thing for you to do!” the person says, “There you go, doing your blonde thing again!”

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Wrongly Accused of Using N Word

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about accused of using the N-word:

During a phone call while both phones were on speaker, the person on the other line thought she heard me say the “N” word. A complaint was filed 4 hours later. I denied the use of the word and thought that a word I said was misheard. Two employees in my office did not hear that word used. Nor did a black woman in the office I called hear me say the word. HR is handling the investigation. I have not been interviewed yet. How should I prepare? Thanks.

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My Boss Dislikes Christians. Hostile Workplace?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about religious discrimination.

My employer openly admits to disliking Christians even though this person knows my faith. I’m now uncomfortable to be at work. Is this considered a hostile work environment?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

We’re not attorneys, so we can’t provide you with the complete legal information you might need. However, Internet resources provide quite a bit of information about Equal Employment Opportunity issues. According to the government website, the general definition of a hostile work environment is one in which words, actions or other situations, create a “severe or pervasive” hostile or abusive work environment based on a protected status (and religion is one of those). It would also be illegal for your boss to prevent you from being promoted based solely on the fact that you are a Christian in your religious faith. However, the fact that your boss has said he doesn’t like Christians or any other religion, doesn’t necessarily make your workplace hostile. “Severe and pervasive” would describe unprovoked, very frequent negative remarks or other actions, focused specifically on your faith.

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