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WIBU to address colleagues use of offensive term again tomorrow?

(27 Posts)
Dunkling Wed 05-Apr-17 10:32:43

I work in a team of 2. Today, the new woman I'm training up, she's been with us about 6 weeks, used the word spastic. It was in private, just the 2 of us in the room, and she was using it to describe herself not another person, as in "God, you nudged me, my writing looks like I'm a ...... (and I don't want to even WRITE the last bit. Awful!!

I immediately addressed it.... said "X, you can't use that word!! That's a bloody terrible word to use, you do know that right?!"

She said yeah, she knew, and brushed it off, said she wouldn't normally use it.

BUT, I'm thinking, so why then DID you use it? Plus, we have on our staff in the small hospital we work in, a lady with cerebral palsy. If she overheard such a term I would fully expect and HOPE she would make a formal complaint. But mainly, how bloody ignorant and how hurtful!!

So although I didn't let it go, I feel as her induction Buddy, I need to address it again, fully, and explain the above and why it is SO unacceptable. I was going to today but couldn't get her alone for a chat before I left without looking obvious we had a problem to the rest of the dept.

It might be relevant that I am not in a more senior position, simply training her?

MaidOfStars Wed 05-Apr-17 10:37:25

You addressed it at the time. I'd leave it now, and be vigilant.

WorraLiberty Wed 05-Apr-17 10:40:05

No need to address it again as it's been dealt with.

She's an adult and if she chooses to use it again, the consequences will be entirely deserved.

LaContessaDiPlump Wed 05-Apr-17 10:43:39

You brought it up - she's been made aware. Leave it now.

I sympathise; I have a good friend who's a teacher and who often uses the word 'retarded' in a jokey context in social situations. I wince every time she does so, while simultaneously thinking 'You MUST know that's not an appropriate word, right, what with being a teacher?' I've never had the balls to say anything though blush

msgrinch Wed 05-Apr-17 10:44:58

Its been dealt with. Leave her be.

Owllady Wed 05-Apr-17 10:46:22

Does your code of conduct or coc as I like to call it, not cover inappropriate language?
I agree that you've spoken to her. If she uses it again I'd give her a verbal warning, especially given the nature of the work.

MrsPacMan Wed 05-Apr-17 10:47:33

Leave it be, no need to labour the point. We had a similar problem with a colleague who used the word retard (in the correct literal sense of the word) and he was mortified when it was brought up. Probably she already feels ridiculous

steppemum Wed 05-Apr-17 10:53:49

leave it, but if she does do it again, assume she actually doesn't know what it means and explain it calmly.
I think that the younger generation are using it as an insult without understanding the source, as it is no longer a word in current useage.
I had to pull ds up over it, and when explained, he was embarrased as he has a friend with cerebral palsy!

DixieNormas Wed 05-Apr-17 10:55:04

You've said something so id leave it now unless she uses it again

MsJamieFraser Wed 05-Apr-17 10:56:33

Your her buddy not her boss, what do you feel you need to address it again, it's a bit weird.

So you like reprimanding people over and over for the same thing they done once hmm

LaContessaDiPlump Wed 05-Apr-17 11:04:55

So you like reprimanding people over and over for the same thing they done once

That seems a bit of a leap; sometimes I feel compelled to repeat a comment like the OP's when it seems like the person I said it to wasn't really listening, or didn't grasp that I was completely serious.

However, in a professional setting the other women really ought to have the awareness to take this on board. If she doesn't and uses the term again, deal with it then.

MargoChanning Wed 05-Apr-17 11:10:10

LaContessa - you need to stop wincing and tell her that word is completely unacceptable and disablist.

FoodGloriousFud Wed 05-Apr-17 11:11:11

You've dealt with it, your not her superior, move on. I'm a manager of a large team and don't appreciate people giving themselves superiority and reprimanding their peeps. She said something you didn't like, you said so and it's done. If it happens again speak to her superior.

ZackyVengeance Wed 05-Apr-17 11:12:12

report it. this happened to ds
he reported it and it was a bad mark against the who used it.
the is NO EXCUSE.

WeAllHaveWings Wed 05-Apr-17 11:16:40

She's had her warning, if she uses it again make it formal.

Madwomans Wed 05-Apr-17 11:21:45

You've dealt with it, your not her superior, move on. I'm a manager of a large team and don't appreciate people giving themselves superiority and reprimanding their peeps.

Here we go again. I often think that on Mn the worst thing you can do (clearly far worse than using disablist language) is to do anything that suggests you think you know better than another person. This OP does know better than her 'induction buddy' in this instance, and is in no sense 'giving herself superiority and reprimanding her peeps'. hmm This 'peep' should have been reprimanded.

daisychain01 Wed 05-Apr-17 11:22:52

I'm sure you got the message through at that time. I wouldn't see the need to retread the ground you already trod, unless you hear her saying it again or using other similar derogatory terms about people with disabilities.

If you hear her repeat it, at that point, I would have a private conversation with her to say you had already asked her to refrain from saying disablist words, and now you will need to make the matter formal.

I would say it in a kind way, no need to lay in at her, after all if you want to deliver a message for her to be kind, you need to exhibit those values yourself.

TheProblemOfSusan Wed 05-Apr-17 11:26:16

I wouldn't say anything again but I might consider letting her manager know what happened - not so her manager can address it again either, but so she's aware that it might become an issue.

What you did, calling it out at the time, I think is totally appropriate for a buddy to do. You let her know that it was not appropriate and that your workplace takes this seriously and people will notice.

LaContessaDiPlump Wed 05-Apr-17 11:27:47

Margo I know. I just can't get over the feeling that she must KNOW it's a bad word to use - she's a teacher!! The 'but she must know' response always kicks in and prevents me saying something at the time it happens. But I know, I should.

DoNotBlameMeIVotedRemain Wed 05-Apr-17 11:30:57

You did well to address it at the time. If she says it again report her.

Viviennemary Wed 05-Apr-17 11:41:53

You've told her once and of course this is entirely unacceptable. I'd think about mentioning it in an informal way to your immediate superior and say that you did say something at the time but it didn't seem to be taken very seriously. If it becomes an issue and the subject of a formal complaint and it comes out you were aware of it you might even be in trouble. Protect your back at all times is a golden rule to be followed IMHO.

ChrisYoungFuckingRocks Wed 05-Apr-17 11:42:47

Spastic
1 Relating to or affected by muscle spasm.
1.1 Relating to or denoting a form of muscular weakness (spastic paralysis) typical of cerebral palsy, caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord and involving reflex resistance to passive movement of the limbs and difficulty in initiating and controlling muscular movement.
1.2 offensive, dated (of a person) having cerebral palsy.
2 informal, offensive Incompetent or uncoordinated.

So, while it's a technically correct term, it's not very PC! Saying someone has spastic movements would be correct (although probably frowned upon), but calling someone a spastic would be totally unacceptable.

Like others have said - you've mentioned it to her so I would leave it, but if she does it again I would certainly call her out on it.

LadyPW Wed 05-Apr-17 11:49:16

She said it, you told her, now leave her be. If she does it again, then you do something, but not otherwise. It's not like she was using it to describe someone else or in public. People sometimes say things they regret the second they've fallen out of their mouth. It wasn't malicious. You sound like you want to make a fuss for the sake of it.

MargoChanning Wed 05-Apr-17 11:56:43

I know it's hard LaContessa. Ive been there myself. Its awkward and i sympathise.

But do you really want to remain friends with someone who enjoys using that word?

MargoChanning Wed 05-Apr-17 12:04:53

OP - i think you handled your colleague really well. Id leave it for now as hopefully she's got the message, but definitely call her out on it if she uses it again.

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