do I have to deal with racial jokes at work?

an employee said a racial joke and the manager said that I will just haveto deal with the racial jokes.

Asked on May 26, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Not necessarily.  Racial jokes can create what is called a "hostile work environment" that is grounds for an employment discrimination lawsuit.  Courts look at how severe and how pervasive the offensive remarks are;  in some cases, a single remark is severe enough to make the case, as in one New Jersey instance where the boss used the phrase, "jungle bunny" when speaking to an African-American employee.  The more offensive the remarks, the less pervasive (frequent) they need to be, for a court to act.

It is also unlawful discrimination to retaliate against you for complaining about these "jokes."  This is one of the few exceptions to the rule that an employer doesn't need a reason at all to fire you.

You should talk to an attorney in your area who handles employment discrimination cases.  They tend to be difficult and drawn-out, but they can be won, if the unique facts of your case are enough.  One place to look for qualifed lawyers is our website, http://attorneypages.com


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