Foul-Mouthed Attorney

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about foul language:

The attorney I work for uses the f-word all the time, and he and his associates here go back and forth. What I really hate though is him calling homosexuals a slur, blacks another N-word slur, women are “bitc*es” etc. He’s older but knows better. I know I should quit. The question is when?

Signed, Fed Up With The F Word

DearĀ Fed Up With The F Word:

I can certainly imagine how disgusting it would be to hear that kind of language used repeatedly and pervasively. The F word has actually gained some tolerance in business, but the others are still indicative of offensive and perhaps illegal and harassing behavior.I hope you have, at some point, told your employers how offensive the comments are or in some way let them know that you don’t like that kind of talk. I realize that’s not easy to do, but it can be done in a way that is not mutiny but still adamant.

Since you work in an attorney’s office you likely are aware of how to get a free consultation to check out your legal and civil options. You may want to contact another attorney’s office about that. Or, contact the EEOC to determine if the words and actions come under their guidelines.We are not attorneys and can’t provide advice. Also, we don’t know all the details. However, I am familiar with several attorneys who have themselves been successfully sued or charged through EEO investigations, about a biased, harassing or pervasively offensive work environment. So, you might want to consider not just leaving that workplace but changing it.

You are left with the three options of staying, leaving now or leaving later. You ask, “When?” If you need a great reference, you should tidy up your work, give ample notice and leave on good terms. If not, your conscience and sense of loyalty will probably be your guide. If the attorneys have treated you well, in spite of their nasty talk, you may feel that you at least owe them the courtesy of leaving with everything taken care of. If not, you may decide to leave them in the lurch and write an exit letter saying why. Those are big decisions that should be made after much thought and talking to someone who knows the situation fully.Best wishes to you about this. I hope your next work is with people who are more admirable!

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.