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to mention this to someone at work or just leave it?

(47 Posts)
milkandribena Mon 03-Dec-12 23:24:21

I have ummed and arred about this but as I am still thinking about it..

Anyway I was in the office (for once) today and someone was asking me about Christmas in Germany (I'm half German which due to the nature of my work -and my name- it is obvious). At the same time a few contractors were in the office.
So I was telling him and one of the contractors who was near at the time pipes up "didn't realise Nazis celebrated Christmas"

Apart from being shocked he just butted in to the conversion I just assumed he was asking if christmas was celebrated by Nazis in the third reich. I begin to say yes, they did.
But then he continues saying (basically) that it is 'awful that all of you Nazis took christmas and that we shouldn't be allowed to celebrate Christmas'

I must have recoiled in shock. He laughed (like he thought he was really clever) and said 'don't worry love I know the Nazis don't let women in they put them in the kitchen, only good thing your lot do'

But then the collegue, sort of laughed and smiled and said that 'I must get that all the time and that it's sort of funny, isnt it?'

Obviously I told him it wasn't and just walked away. The last time someone called me a nazi I must have been about 13 and doing WWII in school. The teacher went ape-shit. (plus he laughed at woman being in the kitchen)

Anyway. I realise it was today and maybe I should just tolerate it (I know my dad has) but WIBU to go and speak to the colleague tomorrow and actually say something to him about it? or do I just leave it and stay away from that particular contractor?

Proudnscaryvirginmary Tue 04-Dec-12 06:34:36


BlueyDragon Tue 04-Dec-12 06:39:26

FWIW I agree with the consensus - the contractor's behaviour was completely unacceptable and you should complain to HR.

As your colleague is just out of school he might not have known quite what to do about the discussion and not felt confident enough to shout the contractor down. Maybe a quiet word with him would be the better option?

Alligatorpie Tue 04-Dec-12 06:44:48

Shocking. This needs to be addressed. And too bad if your colleague is young, it is still very appropriate.

Afrodizzywonders Tue 04-Dec-12 06:53:05

Disgusting behaviour from the contractor and work colleague, definitely report them for it. Their ignorance is boggling. In respect if your work colleague, he's obviously young and impressionable (not very bright being swept along by the Contractors comments). Personally I'd mention it to HR as well, he won't go very far if he finds that behaviour acceptable or gets away with it. This kind of behaviour needs nipping in the bud, HR could handle it tactfully, speak to them about it.

MammaTJ Tue 04-Dec-12 07:00:30

Report the contractor. The colleague is young and was embarrassed. Tried to make light of an awful situation.

EugenesAxeChoppedDownANiceTree Tue 04-Dec-12 07:46:52

I hadn't really understood about the young colleague; I was all about the contractor!

I think you are right about him; a word to explain the contractor was totally wrong and that if he [colleague] colludes in future you will report him to HR, which may result in dismissal. Or if you do want to impress the gravity of it, perhaps ask HR if they can give a first written warning. You may have to mention no names and see if it's feasible. I hope HR would consider the victim's wishes in cases like this, but it is such a serious thing they may be bound to act regardless.

EverythingsDozy Tue 04-Dec-12 09:21:13

I know exactly what you mean, my family is German and we celebrate Christmas the German way (which I love, German Christmas is beautiful) but I get a lot of stupid comments such as these. I even had a few idiotic remarks from my MIL.
It's not on, the war and the nazis happened a long time ago, I don't think anyone in civilised society believes in what they did, and no civilised individual believes what your foolish colleague does either. You need to pull him up on it and tell him that this sort of attitude is not on. Like people have said, if you were black / Asian / anything other than German really, these comments wouldn't have been tolerated!
I hope you get it sorted

Alliwantisaroomsomewhere Tue 04-Dec-12 09:26:15

Fucking hell! Yes, say something. Report him - in fact I reckon you could lay a criminal charge against this fuckwit. I am South African originally and some stupid twat called me a kaffir. She landed up in court. (There were a million other things that this woman had done, but this was the final straw).

TheSmallPrint Tue 04-Dec-12 09:26:25

What a wanker, absolutely report him. I suspect the colleage was embarrased and didn't know what to say but shame on him for not standing up for you.

VoiceofUnreason Tue 04-Dec-12 09:27:14

Absolutely report the git. And have words with your colleague too.

FryOneFatChristmasTurkey Tue 04-Dec-12 09:30:38

I agree you need to report the contractor, and yes perhaps a strong chat with your colleague. If he's young like you say, he needs some guidance on what's acceptable.

I'm sorry you were faced with this. I'd never tolerate anyone working for me spouting those attitudes off.

looselipssinkships Tue 04-Dec-12 09:31:13

Report it please. I had comments made at a job I had last year of a sectarian nature - along the lines of religion "I don't care who they give the new houses to as long as its not the Catholics, I'm not living next to them, they'll not last long" etc. It was such a shock to hear someone so young say it, that I just walked away but didn't mention it to anyone (I had already handed my notice in) but I really regret now not reporting it.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Tue 04-Dec-12 09:34:36

I'd report the colleague as well, TBH. You can make clear to HR that you think he was more embarrassed than anything else and perhaps needs a firm chat rather than strong sanctions, but I think it's HR's job to have the chat.

PurpleTinsel Tue 04-Dec-12 09:37:49

Agree this is unacceptable and that you should report the contractor. Also have a word with your colleague.

BartimaeusNeedsMoreSleep Tue 04-Dec-12 09:41:00

Report it.

A couple of years ago I had to put up with a lot of anti-British comments (I don't live in the UK) from people I worked with. It was all done in a jokey style but really wore me down. Most days I'd come home and cry, I felt so isolated sad and they really made me feel like I didn't belong.

I started avoiding them as much as possible which helped, as did snapping at one bloke (who was making yet another joke about English girls wearing belts to go out at night ha ha ha, they all dress like prostitutes ho ho ho) who was shock blush and I think he told the others to lay off me.

I didn't report it but I came very close. My problem was that I didn't think it'd be taken very seriously as it was just jokey comments about British stereotypes and I'm almost the only non-French person in my company.

(I should add that I've lived in France for over 8 years and over 80% of the negative comments I've had came from that group of people in the space of a month, so it's not the norm here. The other 20% of the comments tend to be about the British weather hmm grin).

pictish Tue 04-Dec-12 09:46:19

That's awful!

I can take banter with the gobbiest of them, but that's not banter, it's aggression, and what's more - the moron thinks he's entitled to behave like that. He isn't, and you should definitely tell someone who has some influence, about the exchange.

ivanapoo Tue 04-Dec-12 09:48:14

I would report the contractor but maybe give your colleague the benefit of the doubt. It sounds like he was embarrassed by what this guy was saying and trying - naively - to laugh it off on your behalf. It's not his job to defend you, especially as a junior.

Tell him you were really pissed off with the comments though and that you've reported the other guy so he knows it's not acceptable.

Tailtwister Tue 04-Dec-12 09:54:34

That's awful! Yes, definitely report it to HR. Those sort of comments have no place anywhere, but to hear them in the workplace is especially shocking. Hopefully HR will give him a warning and he'll realise that his comments are racist. I'm surprised your other colleague didn't say anything. I suppose they were probably shocked, I know I would have been.

JohnBender88 Tue 04-Dec-12 12:38:59

I'd report him. Asshole he is.

My best friend is also half German and I get so angry on her behalf when people think comments like this are funny!

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Tue 04-Dec-12 12:54:16

I would report the contractor and the colleague, emphasising their different roles in the incident - so perhaps the colleague will be guided to respond more appropriately to such stuff in future and the contractor will (hopefully) be in serious shit.

You shouldn't have to put up with that.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Tue 04-Dec-12 13:21:27


When I was in secondary school, our German teacher was German (well, obviously...). We were 13, and a right shower of immature, nasty bastards. We still didn't make any remarks like that though. I can't believe an adult would think that's OK.

inkonapin Tue 04-Dec-12 14:05:42

I would report both, tbh. Being young isn't an excuse for being a racist twat. If the colleague waa embarrassed and didn't know what to say he would've kept quiet, not laughed and agreed. and if he really is just incredibly thick then maybe a word from his boss on what's appropriate would be helpful to him.

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