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How would you discipline this racist joke from someone you manage

(287 Posts)
davidbrent Sun 29-Jan-17 16:14:48

This is identifying but I don't care.

So a work colleague was complaining that her computer was running really slow to which another colleague piped up:

'paint it black it will run faster'. Then everyone burst into fits of laughter and it was forgotten. This colleague does like to have a joke at work but it good at the job.

Locality manager didn't seem to have any issues and didn't mention anything. I'm sure it's forgotten within the office. Everyone working here is White British. Luckily a Nigerian colleague was on a visit at the time.

Would you be concerned by this joke. Would you discipline the employee? I would certainly have at least called him into the office but let locality manager take the lead as he was in the room too.

pullingmyhairout1 Sun 29-Jan-17 16:18:06

I'd be having a word in their ear about it but not formal discipline personally.

Stuffedshirt Sun 29-Jan-17 16:18:50

I would definitely discipline this employee. A verbal warning would suffice but it would be on their record. I would point out that racial jokes/comments etc., are totally unacceptable, end of.

davidbrent Sun 29-Jan-17 16:19:49

It's obviously not going to be a formal discipline. But I would have probably said something in passing.

SirChenjin Sun 29-Jan-17 16:20:28

What pulling said - it would be a pretty forceful word but not a formal disciplinary.

PenguinRoar Sun 29-Jan-17 16:21:11

I may be harsh, but verbal warning and training would be my approach, along with a re-issue of company equalities policy.

That he's good at his job, or others found it funny, is not mitigation; it was offensive and racist.

davidbrent Sun 29-Jan-17 16:21:42

I was wondering if it was racist. The implication being black people are fast runners. Which is a compliment and in no derogatory.

It's best not to make jokes about any particular race and while technically it is racist suppose I did wonder if it actually was.

MrsMeeseeks Sun 29-Jan-17 16:22:52

Verbal warning an reinforcement of the company's policy on racial equality.

ilovesooty Sun 29-Jan-17 16:24:21

I'd be having a very strong word not only with the person who said it but with all the people present who endorsed it by laughing.

AmberEars Sun 29-Jan-17 16:24:22

It's almost reverse racism isn't it? Implying something positive about black people, rather than negative? There is a lot of research into why Kenyans and Jamaicans are such good runners.

OohhItsNotHoxton Sun 29-Jan-17 16:24:42

I'd have an informal conversation covering why it isn't an acceptable comment.
FWIW I am rabidly anti racist and am usually very comfortable in confronting any racist behaviour.
I have however worked with colleagues in the past who haven't been aware that their behaviour is offensive, and they have appreciated some gentle discussion and moderated their behaviour as a result.

AllTheLight Sun 29-Jan-17 16:24:53

Cross post with you, OP.

Raggydolly3 Sun 29-Jan-17 16:25:13

I would be warning that any further comments would result in a full disciplinary and poss make a note of it on his file that will come off in 12 months of no further incidents

ilovesooty Sun 29-Jan-17 16:25:44

And in fact I'd be making the locality managers line manager know that he failed to challenge this as well.

Dawndonnaagain Sun 29-Jan-17 16:25:54

Promulgating stereotypes is racist. A verbal warning should follow this.

Birdsgottafly Sun 29-Jan-17 16:26:24

It's inappropriate for the workplace, but not racist.

However, it could make colleagues feel uncomfortable, because it's a race issue and that's not acceptable.

They need to have it explained why it's unacceptable and as a Manager, that's your job.

As someone whose suffered racism and has had to work in Sexist/Racist environments, I don't like a ill thought out comment to be pounced on and someone branded a racist who isn't.

Suzysuz Sun 29-Jan-17 16:27:15

Would be a warning to the individual (formal/informal depending on your company policy) but also some sort of team training/reminder on what is not acceptable - whilst they didn't say it you mention they laughed. Shouldn't matter that your Nigerian colleague was out of the office at the time or view that potentially 'positive racism' hmm, completely unacceptable.

FrozeninSummer Sun 29-Jan-17 16:28:31

Funnily enough given your user name but there's a bit in the office where David Brent makes a comment about what he sees as a non degoratory characteristic of black men (big penis) but is warned about by Jennifer.

Just because it's not necessarily a degoratory comment doesn't make it any less racist. I think you have to pull him up about it. Apart from anything else you'd not be doing the employee any favours to not challenge the behaviour, he may think that kind of comment is acceptable if not addressed which could eventually lead him into more trouble down the line than addressing it now.

Birdsgottafly Sun 29-Jan-17 16:29:13

""Locality manager didn't seem to have any issues and didn't mention anything""

Missed that bit, can you take it up with him, why he didn't react?

Because either he also needs training, or he's racist and this is the can of worms that your about to open. Don't get me wrong, it needs to be addressed,m,

davidbrent Sun 29-Jan-17 16:29:33

I am always called 'Brent' at work. But I'm nothing like him....honest!!! :-D

ilovesooty Sun 29-Jan-17 16:31:05

Exactly Birds

I think the locality manager's failure to intervene needs to be highlighted.

davidbrent Sun 29-Jan-17 16:31:43

Locality Manager has been in this field 40 years. He knows his stuff. That's why I left it to him to choose the action necessary, rather than be accused of stepping on anyone's toes.

I didn't question his judgement until a few days after the incident. It's just been playing on my mind really. It seems it's a bit soft to let him get away without even a word of discipline.

DotForShort Sun 29-Jan-17 16:33:02

Of course it's racist. I would certainly speak to this individual and make it very clear that racism has no place at work. If the guy wants to be a slimeball racist on his own time, that is up to him and not something that a manager could control. However, it is well within the manager's remit to inform employees that racism will not be tolerated in the work environment. I would speak to the entire group (those who laughed at this "hilarious" joke) and tell them the same. And perhaps arrange some training for all of them.

ilovesooty Sun 29-Jan-17 16:33:31

He might know his stuff but his behaviour has been appalling.

MrsNuckyThompson Sun 29-Jan-17 16:36:28

I would definitely run a disciplinary. The fact that everyone in the office was laughing frankly concerns me too. It tells me that casual racism is not only tolerated but is encouraged in your workplace. The persons performance is completely irrelevant to whether you should discipline

Hauling her through the process (even if the upshot is 'just' a verbal warning) will send a strong message for the future. It also protects you as an employer to send the message that you don't accept racism (so that if you ever get a claim from someone claiming harassment or discrimination) you are able to demonstrate that you've taken such instances seriously.

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