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Inappropriate Jokes and Comments at Work


There are many ways that racism occurs within a workplace, and it is an illegal form of harassment due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That said, it still occurs. Overt racism may be less apparent than it was in the past, but there are still plenty of inappropriate and illegal comments and jokes. Bringing an employment law claim forward after a racist comment said casually can be complex as the language can be subtle in nature. That said, you have rights. Discuss your situation with a Columbus employment attorney.

Social Exclusion and Other Negative Effects

When there are inappropriate jokes and off-color comments about people of color within a workplace, it is detrimental. There are also times when social exclusion is part of the racist behavior. When a person does not create work relationships and feels threatened by comments, they will not be able to thrive at work. If they have the best abilities and talents, they may still be passed over for raises and promotions due to a culture of bigotry.

All racism is detrimental to a victim’s health. Hostile work environments where employees do not feel welcome need to be addressed. If you were subjected to inappropriate behavior or commentary at your workplace, take note of it. In your records, include details such as who said it, what they said, where they said it, and who was there to witness the event.

Once you have a record, you can review your employee handbook or take your complaints to a member of the human resource staff. Be clear, factual, and follow all of the organizational guidelines for complaints. This is true if the event happened to you or someone else. When another was targeted, you can offer them words of support and let them know you are moving forward with a complaint.

If the racism continues and is persistent, it may be time to pursue a legal case. Workplace harassment is a serious violation. A Columbus employment attorney can walk you through next steps, whether that is taking your dispute to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or an Ohio labor agency.

Employers Should Take Necessary Steps

When there are inappropriate racial remarks, it is the employer who needs to take steps. It is not the employee’s job to educate coworkers on harassment and harm. Ideally, employers will have written policies in place. Then, when complaints are made, there are clear actions, such as disciplinary action and conduct training.

No one should have to go to work and be subjected to any form of racism, overt or not. Harassment needs to be dealt with right away, through workplace programs or through a lawsuit when the racism hinders career advancement or is pervasive and harmful.

Have you heard racist language at your Ohio workplace? Contact the lawyers at Coffman Legal LLC today. We are strong and committed advocates for all Ohio workers and use our experience and knowledge to help you. Call 614-949-1181 for a free and confidential consultation.


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