Immature Racist Remarks

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about racist remarks such as “What ghetto store did you work at?”, “Do all people in the ghetto know that they live in the ghetto?”

I have worked for a major retailer for over 17 years and I have enjoyed my time with the company until I moved to Arizona. I have a co-worker who is constantly making racial remarks like “What ghetto store did you work at”, “Do all people in the ghetto know that they live in the ghetto”, “I guess I’ll go drop the Cosby’s off at the pool”, “Don’t you feel like you work in little Mexico?” The list goes on and on. I am fed up.

I have documented all the comments with dates and times with the surrounding circumstances. I reported the earlier incidents to my former boss and it went nowhere. He still makes such comments to this day. I want to file a claim but he is considered a high performing manager. I feel that if I talked to the next level Human Resources they will not act on the issue with seriousness.I am also a strong believer that out of the heart the mouth speaks. I, however; also believe that just because you might be prejudice/racist doesn’t mean you can’t earn a living. I just don’t want it to go unheard again. What course of action/ and who should I report him to? P.S. I am currently without an immediate supervisor.

Signed, #NAME?

DearĀ #NAME?:

Bigoted talk will not stop until people like you say, “Stop!” I read through your question twice and saw no place in which you said that word. But you reported it to no avail. Did the individual who ethnically badmouthed know you filed a claim? Was this put in writing? Did you ask for an investigation? To whom do you go now? What is your role in this; that of a coworker? Are you a minority? Were these remarks addressed to specific individuals or made more as joking discounts of those of a different race by the individual who expressed them? Were they made about or to customers or coworkers? Who, other than you, witnessed them? These are questions that you log might address if you indeed want to transform a demeaning work environment.

Prepare several copies of your log with dates, places, precipitating incidents, targets, witnesses, and how they affected you, other coworkers, and possibly suppliers and customers. Use the exact languages said and the words racial remarks, discrimination, and hostile work environment. Compose your letter carefully emphasizing the adverse affect on any parties who might be offended by such talk and how expensive it might be if management does not make a reasonable effort to correct/prevent this kind of talk. Address it to both Human Resources and upper management.

Realize that those you target will not be pleased. You will have to decide whether to first confront the individual(s) with the bigoted mouth to inform him/them that you were submitting this complaint. That’s probably what you would want someone to do if she/he were submitting a complaint about you. Realize that change takes time and follow up. Often it is only the squeaky wheel that gets oiled. Be the most positive and productive employee possible. Think like you were an owner.

Get outside counsel if you can’t find an attorney who takes such cases on a contingent basis. At least speak to one to learn how to approach this most effectively, possibly through your state or federal EEO offices. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that’s what you want; a workplace that is civil, respectful in speech and action, and engaging.

William Gorden