The good news is that as a society, overt racism is much more likely to be looked down upon today than it was in recent years. The bad news is that there is still too much casual racism in the workplace. It can cause serious issues and create a hostile work environment. But unless you have been the victim of it, you might not realize what it is.
Keep reading to learn what casual racism can look like in the workplace. Keep reading to learn when it can move into the category of illegal harassment or employment discrimination. If you believe you have been a victim of either of these, contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation.
Examples of Casual Racism
The easiest way to understand casual racism is to start by considering a few examples. Off-color jokes that utilize racial stereotypes are one example, or off-color questions or comments that involve asking a person where they are from “originally” when you know they were born in the United States. Saying “You speak well for a person of XX” background is racist.
When a white employee excludes coworkers of color, if they are doing it based on race, then this is casual racism. If a white employee dresses up in another culture’s traditional or sacred clothing for Halloween, this is subtle racism.
Why it Matters
To a person who has never been discriminated against based on race, it might seem like these are minor issues that can easily be ignored or brushed off. The truth is that casual racism can have many serious negative impacts.
Let us look at exclusion as an example. It might not seem like a big deal to exclude a few co-workers, but if they, as a result, do not form relationships with their co-workers or higher-ups that could help them get ahead in the workplace, then this is negatively impacting their professional life.
Even if it does not impact a person’s ability to get ahead in the workplace, casual racism can make a person feel insulted, it can hurt their mental health, and it can even make them feel unsafe going to work.
What to Do if You Witness Casual Racism in the Workplace
Do not use the excuse that your co-workers don’t know they are racist. That might be true, but that doesn’t have an impact on how their behavior affects others. If you see casual witness or are the butt of the joke, note who said it, what they said, where they said it, and who else was there.
Then look at your Employee Handbook or similar document to learn how to report the behavior. If a person in management is made aware of the problem and does not take appropriate action to remedy the situation, then you might have legal recourse. Contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 for a free legal consultation to determine what your options are.