Complain to HR About Racist Remark?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being offended at racist remarks:

I am white. I have family members and friends who are of various races. Recently a co-worker and manager made some racist remarks in my presence and one commented that I wouldn’t be offended because I am white. I was stunned and did not say anything at the time, but I was extremely offended. Am I justified in complaining to HR about this?

Signed, Offended

Dear Offended:

Based upon what you say happened, you would be justified in reporting the remarks to HR. The actual decision to do so may not be so easy. It most likely will depend upon the nature of the remarks, your relationship with the people who made the remarks and the policy of your company about such situations. I realize that some people might think you should certainly report such a thing, but I think the reality of the work situation should also be considered. For example, if you have had a good working relationship with your coworker and manager and they have always shown themselves to be positive, unbiased and ethical people, if this is the first time you have ever heard them say anything of this nature, and if the remark did not indicate they have acted in a biased way in their work, you may want not want to escalate it to the point that the coworker and manager would be disciplined or lose their jobs over it.

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