Address Ethnic 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. This may create an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment.
  • Discrimination and harassment policies should specifically prohibit the use of derogatory terms, slurs and stereotypes in the workplace and supervisors and employees should be provided with diversity and sensitivity training.
  • An employer has a legal duty to end harassment. Therefore, upon receiving a complaint regarding use of an ethnic slur in the workplace, an employer should immediately conduct an investigation.
  • The investigator should gather all relevant information, including witness statements.
  • The employer should discipline the alleged wrongdoer in accordance with the employer's disciplinary policy and may want to consider requiring the employee to undergo additional diversity and sensitivity training.

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