What to Do When the Employer Is Making Racial Remarks?

Racial remarks in the workplace can create an uncomfortable environment.
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Chances are, you or somebody you know has worked for an employer that allows poor behavior to go unchecked. This can range from managers who are overly critical to those who are just plain bigots. If an employer makes negative racial remarks, take a proactive approach to improve working conditions while solving the problem amicably. If your manager's racial remarks lead to discrimination, you might be entitled to file a federal complaint.

Contact Management

It’s important to bring inappropriate behavior, including racial remarks, to the attention of upper management. Contact upper management to report a supervisor who has made inappropriate racial remarks such as personal attacks, bigoted statements or even tasteless jokes. Usually, the issue can be resolved internally. Upper management will likely take action on your behalf, including talking to the offending supervisor, writing up a report or taking the issue to human resources.

Contact Human Resources

If the issue persists despite involvement from upper management, you should contact human resources. Most corporations will have a designated HR department where personnel complaints are taken and handled confidentially. An HR representative will investigate the matter by interviewing witnesses to the racial remarks or taking statements from other employees. A resolution might range from mediation to formal reprimand and on up to termination of the offending party, depending on the department’s findings.

Discrimination in the Workplace

Determine whether the racial remarks contribute to some form of discrimination that violates federal laws. Negative racial remarks might be part of a larger pattern in which an employer or manager treats a certain group of employees unfairly. The United States government protects employees against unfair treatment, including discrimination, through its Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws on behalf of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Under these provisions, all employees are entitled to equal and fair treatment in the workplace regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age. Harassment, including negative or insensitive racial remarks, is also protected under these provisions. The EEOC provides information and assistance to individuals affected by discrimination in the workplace.

Filing a Complaint with the EEOC

In the event your manager’s racial remarks contribute to discrimination in the workplace, you can file a formal complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Once you file a charge against your employer, you may first be asked to undergo mediation to try to resolve the issue. If mediation does not provide resolution, an investigation may be ordered.

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