Discriminatory language includes any comments that indicate a bias against other people based on factors such as race, gender, marital status, age, national origin or disability. It is especially important to avoid discriminatory language at work because of the potential legal ramifications. However, you should also avoid such language outside the workplace to ensure that you always have the trust and confidence of your colleagues.
Employers must adhere to employment laws that protect people from discriminatory practices in hiring and employment. Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination Act are common examples of laws designed to protect workers from being discrimination. When a manager uses discriminatory language at work, she puts herself and the company at greater risk of discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuits. An employee has much greater footing in making such an allegation if witnesses in the office can attest to a manager's use of discriminatory language.
Any employee, whether a senior executive or rank and file worker, creates a more tense and hostile workplace by using discriminatory language. In a diverse workplace, it is inherently more difficult to create a sense of unity and togetherness because of worker differences. Employees who use discriminatory language make it even more difficult for those they offend to view them as team players or to work closely with them. This is especially true if an employee's language affects others in the same work group.
Away from Work
You may think that you can let your guard down away from work. However, while you certainly have more freedom of expression, using it to express discriminatory views can get you into trouble in a couple ways. First, employees have been fired for comments made through social media accounts or in amateur footage uploaded on YouTube. Additionally, what you say outside of work reflects your attitude toward the people about whom you speak. Your language is habit forming. It is difficult to build honest, respectful working relationships with people you badmouth outside of work.
Women have spent decades working to overcome gender biases in the workplace. Given the effort of women to build a fair work environment, it is important to avoid language that discriminates with regards to gender. This is the case for both men and women. Those who attain leadership roles in organizations should set an example by being fair and equitable in their treatment of all employees.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.