Falsely Accused of Racial Slur

 I was falsely accused of using a racial slur at work to another employee.

Dear Accused: My immediate response to your question was to suggest you supply more information. Why? Because that will be necessary to learn what evidence there might be of what you were accused of and to learn of your status in your workplace, e.g. are you a boss or coworker.

Apparently, you so far have not made time to add the information, I requested: If you really want a more complete answer, please add a bit more information, such as the size of your work group and work organization, your role and race, racial makeup of the employees, how long you have worked there, who accused you, what consequence likely will happen, how this will be investigated and what have you been told by your boss or Human Resources. What happened days or a week before being accused. Of  course don’t include names of those involved. –The Workplace Doctors 

Since we lack that information, I suggest you read the Q&A that came to our site years ago and our advice. You will see how carefully the question was written and our response. This should help you think through your situation and to learn if the advice provided applies to you. It is  not a quick read and will require study, but should enable you to consider what you might do in requesting an investigation. After studying them, please feel free to contact me further. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is my signature sentence. See if you can apply that for yourself.

I’m also listing the site of another that is too long to include it this Q&A, butg It is worth your time to study it. 

Falsely Accused Of A Racial Slur

 A coworker (new employee, who has not made probation period, falsely accused me of making a racial slur to him. It is being investigated by HR, and I am off work on paid status. Can I be terminated for this? Signed, I Didn’t

Dear I Didn’t:

It is understandable that when one is placed on leave that your organization takes accusations of racial matters seriously. HR’s investigation should determine if the accusation has substance. If it finds you guilty, you could be disciplined and/or fired. However, you have a right to defend yourself and if you are heavily disciplined, penalized or fired, and you are firm in your belief that the accusation is false, you can seek the help of an attorney.

Because race is such a sensitive matter and there are laws against discrimination and a hostile environment, organizations are wise to investigate an accusation of a racial slur (you don’t say if it was one or more). What can you do to defend yourself? You can review the occasions of your interaction with this new employee. In retrospect, to the best of your recollection, prepare notes of when, where, and what were the exact words on each interaction (yours and the new employee).

Note who, if any one, might have witnessed the interaction. Also reflect on things you might have said to other employees that could be interpreted as slurs. In addition you might state you have worked without complaints with others of a different race, if you have. While you are off from work, don’t become obsessed and overly anxious, but this time to make a file of the above notations and of copies of positive evaluation you’ve received since you’ve worked at this place. Avoid gossiping by email and phone with others where you work. If you are worried about the accusation, you might consult with an attorney for advice about what you should and should not say to HR investigators. Some attorneys don’t charge for a preliminary consultation.

Do keep us posted. We wish you the best. At this difficult time, it is hard to appreciate my signature sentence, but it is important nevertheless: Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. That is what I want for you and your work group.

William Gorden