Address Ethnic and Religious Slurs in the Workplace

Key Points

  • Ethnic slurs, racial jokes and derogatory terms can result in discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, religion or national origin, creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment. An employer has a legal duty to end harassment and should investigate immediately when a complaint regarding use of an ethnic slur in the workplace is received.
  • Discrimination and harassment policies should specifically prohibit the use of derogatory terms, slurs and stereotypes in the workplace. Supervisors and employees should be provided with mandatory diversity and sensitivity training.
  • The employer should consistently apply its disciplinary policy to any employee found to have used ethnic, racial or religious slurs, and may want to consider requiring the employee to undergo additional diversity and sensitivity training.

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