Originally published: May 15, 2017
Don’t let racist comments create a hostile work environment. It’s a real risk. Managers and supervisors must be trained to understand that comments tinged with racism aren’t ever appropriate in the workplace.
Recent case: John, who is black, worked as a patient safety manager at a Dallas Department of Veterans Affairs facility. Over the span of a few years, he complained several times about alleged race discrimination and filed EEOC complaints.
He alleged he was paid less than nonblack employees in similar jobs and that one of his supervisors took another worker’s word for something he allegedly did without investigating first. That resulted in a letter of counseling for his file.
Then a new medical director arrived on the scene. According to John, conditions deteriorated further. John alleged he was told that management wanted to “get rid of all the “n*****s,” and that the chief of staff would “kill him” if he filed another EEOC complaint. Then, during a leadership meeting, John alleged that a VA staff attorney called him “a house n****r.” At another meeting, a manager allegedly inquired where another black employee was, stating, “Where is that boy? I am looking for that boy.”