Fired for a Racist Remark

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a racist remark:

I was accused of making a racist remark to someone at work. When this person was called in to discuss it, he kept saying that I made a racist remark since he was Hispanic. When he was told my last name, he immediately changed his story and said that I was just disrespecting him. I was told this by HR as they were terminating me. I was never told when this occurred, where this occurred or who made the complaint against. They just terminated me without ever letting me speak to anyone about this. While both my supervisor and my boss assured me that they did not believe I had made a racist remark, I was concerned that there were other people at work who might believe I had done so. What should I do? Thank you very much.

Signed, Accused and Fired

Dear Accused and Fired: Because I sense you are distressed, I’m responding promptly. We have had many questions across the years about discrimination; however, I don’t recall that we’ve had one in which an employee was terminated without even allowing her/him to speak to anyone about it. From what you report, apparently you did make a racist remark of some sort. I understand that you are no longer employed and are asking what you should do?

Probably you have few options, but here are two to consider:

  1. Request an appointment with HR to learn the process in which your termination was made. I realize you stated that you were never told when this racist remark “occurred, where this occurred or who made the complaint against.” However, you might obtain information about what was considered and what kind of investigation was made. Possibly you might request an investigation of the whole matter again. If you had been employed and had a good performance record, you could asked for reconsideration.

  2. Consult with an employment attorney familiar with EEO law. We are not attorneys and provide communication advice, not legal. Usually an attorney will listen to the details of your situation without charge, and if she/he believes you have a case will take it for contingency fee when it is resolved.

Meanwhile, I trust that you will begin a job search. I sense you are saddened by all this and hope your former coworkers don’t see you are prejudiced. Surely, if you had been employed for sometime, you made some friends and can call or email one of them to talk about this. Or possibly you can speak with a clergy or community counseling service to express yourself. To be sure, you need someone to listen and empathize with you. But it’s not good to burden your family and to over-explain how you feel you are a victim.

Of course from afar, I can’t know what are the highs and lows in your job history, but now you are at a time that will call forth the best in you. I’m sure you want to find work that enables you to provide for yourself and family, if you have one. You may decide neither option 1 or 2, I have proposed, make sense to you. If not, you are challenged to let the past be past and with grit to find a way to once again feel you can do what is necessary to survive and smile again.

Please know we at the Workplace Doctors want to see you through this difficult time. If you want to explain your situations more fully, we will listen. If you have time, feel free to tell us what you do, and without sharing your name, we will pass on to our readers the struggle and success you have to cope with this unhappy termination. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. It’s my hope that you will soon find a job where you can feel a sense of wego. –William Gorden