I’m Harrassed By My Boss.

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about reported racist comment:

My boss is verbally abusing me because I reported her for making a racist comment. Please help.

Signed, Harassed

Dear Harassed:

Retaliation is unacceptable, but it might be difficult to prove. Of course not knowing what you reported, I can’t side with you. You boss likely resented being reported, especially if you did not confront her at the moment she made a racist remark and went behind her back to say she is racist. Also she might have reason to resent it if you have behaved as an adversary rather than have been a supportive associate.

So now what will you do, report her again? If you do, it would be wise to log descriptions of incidents of verbal abuse; what she said, when, where and who might also have observed each incident. But first I suggest that you ask yourself what do you really want. I expect you would like to bite her back, make her hurt, and put her in her place. That is a natural “get back” emotion. Yet isn’t what you really want is a cooperative, friendly, respectful and a secure job that you like. If that is your goal, might that happen if you continue to report verbal harassment? More conflict is sure to continue if you do that. Sure someone in Human Resources should wash out your boss’s mouth if she has a pattern of demeaning racist remarks, and you can fight for that. But, as I said before I think what you really want is a respect-getting secure job and to achieve that at least deserves a genuine good spirited try.

That means to do all you can to be a productive worker, one that makes your boss pleased to have you on her team. That means to walk in her shoes and to understand she is not perfect and in good humor to help her understand when and if she is racist. That means to have courage enough to confront her firmly and in good humor. That means to think WEGO–to think and act as you would as if you were on a winning team, one that wants to make your coach look good.

Do any of these thoughts make sense to you or do they generate resentment and make you feel more of a victim? Feel free to let me know and if they do not make sense, I hope they will prompt you to seek a more creative approach. Work is hard enough without feeling demeaned. And almost every workplace will be a better place to work in when you think and earn your right to be there. Working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Do you understand what I mean by that?

William Gorden