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Can I do anything about racial comments at my work place without risking my job?
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Can I do anything about racial comments at my work place without risking my job?

My boss in Canada used some nice words the other day.
He said something strange like "those blacks" and I was like what? You mean black people- as in African Americans? And he was like yes... N*****. I stopped and said even though I am white- I have family member whom are black and black friends so I don't like that word. He then made some weird joke about do I have any other minority and I said I had cousin whom are asian and hispanic too so I don't think that funny either. Then he said= how about cripples, can I still make fun of cripples? I said NO, my husband is crippled (but really he is just disabled). He grumbled and said he is in Canada and they can say whatever they want. I am in the USA and we both work for the same company which is a USA company. He is the president of the company..... we have no HR department and no one I can tell. I feel like jobs are so slim that my company treats everyone like trash because they can? Could I get a lawyer and sue? Or am I just taking it to personally? Or is it just his word against mine?
The owner makes comments like this too and comments about woman- like Oh, that buyer must be ugly because she is alway complaining....
These are OLD men too- 75 and 83 years old.
Additional Details
Everyone here is really racist and scared to lose their jobs- they would lie and say he never said anything like that to them. I work with a bunch of uneducated old ladies.
I have been trying to get a new job but no one is hiring in right now in my field!! I am trapped!


Let the old birds simmer in their backwardness. Old folks stillthink its 1950 when some people used not to even board the same bus, go to the same schools or even not allow to go to the same restaurants. Some old agers refuse to think that things have changed and still think that this is acceptable. My take is that they will not change, no matter what you say. Do not risk your job, they are at the higher end of the totem pole and they couldn't care less about ethics. Simply, avoid the conversation and do not give it a second thought. Freedom of speech is a constitutionally protected righta nd as long as they do not discriminate ayone in his place of bussiness, whatever they say or think is irrelevant.

Good luck

Kimberly J
This reminds me of an old employer of mine.

They were from Canada as well in USA for work, and they made comments like that ALL the time (I am indeed African American.) I guess they figured we were such a "close knit" company they can say and do as they pleased. It was emotionally drowning me because I was constantly thinking about how I could change it.

And I finally did.

Lets just say I made A LOT of money and their San Diego office is no longer open.


Hope it works out hun.

vallery e
Whether you lose your job or not, you did a more than wonderful thing by standing up for something like that especially to your boss. Either way as long as you believe in the good in life you will always light people up with way you think. I like the way you think and I don't think that your boss is even worth your time.
Good Luck!!

He cannot fire you for NOT being racial or for NOT agreeing with his thoughts. But don't speak in a really strong tone to him. Show him that you STRONGLY disagree with him with words. PLan your speech if you must, buit i think it is unnecessary. You can deinfetely get a lawyer to sue for social discrimination to a vairety of levels (racial, disability) but i think it would be a long process...you can definetely sue but be careful. Sometimes one might take things said too personally so I don't know what exactly happened. However if you feel so strongly about it, you can either tell them to stop doing that at least when you are around. If they fire you, SUE SUE SUE SUE SUE and the result will be good! However back up your reasons for not wanting to listen to your boss's discriminatory comments and stick with them.

lil southern girl
It does not matter if he is physically located in Canada. You work for a US company on US soil and are subject to US laws regarding freedom from harassment and discrimination at work. He had better study up on what that means before he causes the company to have to endure a huge and expensive lawsuit in Federal court.

However, as it pertains to you personally, you are not being directly harassed or discriminated against because of your race or otherwise- like not being promoted because you are black. So I am unsure what legal standing you have on a personal level, other than being in a whistle-blower position. You should speak to an attorney who is familiar with employment law for more information.

One thing to keep in mind though: if everyone at your job is racist, it won't be a nice place to work if you attempt legal action. They will know better than to do anything to you that might be breaking more laws, but they will start creating situations where they can make you look like the bad guy, and give you whatever disciplinary actions the company policy provides for, while documenting it all in your personnel file as ammunition to fire you with. So weigh your options carefully.

You are right about being worried about losing your job. It is strange that there is no HR department. You stuck up for yourself and your beliefs. Now he knows how you feel about these things. I bet he will think before he spouts off again. So in essence you did a good thing and hopefully stopped the racial remarks. But you should document the conversation and keep it if things get out of hand in the future. Legally, I don't know what else you can do. The comments are not directed towards you. I would do nothing right now. Just keep looking for another job though. I know it's tough out there, but times will change. Sorry you have to be around such ignorant people, but you did a great job speaking your mind. Good luck.

Dave J
The first question you need to ask yourself is how committed you are to staying with this employer. Economic times being what they are, pose fewer prospects for new jobs. And depending on your personal situation, this can come down to you being able to make ends meet, versus standing up for what you feel is right.

On the other hand - there is no excuse for that type of language in the workplace -period. These guys may be from a different time period or nationality but in the US employment laws and regulations prohibit this type of hostility. They are free to think what they may but, they are not free to make comments that infringe upon your right to work in a non-hostile environment. If you choose to pursue any sort of legal actions there are several things you should be aware of:

1) The State you work in: Some States are what is called "Employment At-Will " which, means in a nut-shell, that an employer can terminate employment for what ever reason they see fit (provided they are not breaking any Federal laws by doing so). If you live in a State where Labor Unions are popular - then your State would typically not fall into this category. Also, it should be noted that the if your company is based in one State but you work in another, the laws of the company's home State typically (but not always) take precedence.

2) You need back-up: As you mentioned this could come down to a he said / she said situation. If you have other co-workers, or former co-workers that can support your side of the story, then you will have a better chance pursuing legal action.

3) Size of the company: It sounds like this is a rather small company, since there isn't an HR department. If that is the case, pursuing legal action becomes a little more problematic - for several reasons.
Some lawyers won't go after small businesses because of the time it would take to establish a case as well as the amount of compensation they will likely not be awarded. Larger companies typically settle disputes like these by paying a lump sum to the suing party in exchange for the issue being dropped and never making it to the public spotlight. Small companies, typically don't have the money to do this and negative publicity may not neccessarily hurt them.

There are still other considerations that should be made, that an Attorney who specializes in Employment Law in your State, can better assist you with. One place you can seek additional information is the US Department of Labor Website as well as the your State's Department of Labor website.

billy p

Don't think you would be successful at suing him.
Tell him language like that makes you uncomfortable and you'd rather he not talk like that around you.

If you don't like it you will have to find another job.

That One Girl
Ouch. You can't sue because your not black. It will be just a he said she said thing. I would leave the racial and cripple jokes out as far as complaining. Since you are a women, I would complain about that. Just a simple "that was out of line in the presence of a women" is usually enough to get these old men back in line.

Cant handle Me
Type up a letter telling them what you have to say them mail it to them anonymous or leave it for them

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