Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My boss is a racist. What should I do?

Dear Diversity Diva: My boss is a racist. What should I do?
Dear Diversity Diva: I’m a black woman working for a business that is about to fire me because I don’t get along with my boss, a white woman who I know is racist. I haven’t bothered going to HR because I know they won’t do anything. What do you think I should do? — Rock in a Hard Place
Dear Rock: You’ve got more issues going on than you realize, and it sounds like it’s all about to come to a head.
To begin, how do you know you are about to be fired? For example, if you have been put on probation or given some form of disciplinary warning, your perception that your job is in jeopardy might be quite accurate. However, if you’re just assuming because of the boss tensions, then you may not be at the danger point — just quickly getting there.
Regardless of whether you are guessing or getting direct feedback about the imminent mortality of your job, it is a mistake to keep human resources out of it. From a practical standpoint, you should go to them because you may be getting a lot of things wrong. Maybe your boss is racist. Maybe she’s not. Maybe she’s discriminating against you. Maybe she’s not.
Maybe your job is completely secure but your perceptions and fears are leading you to sit on the railroad tracks ready to be hit by the train. If that’s the case, someone in HR might be able to objectively hear you out and help you fix the situation.
Additionally, from a legal standpoint, if you do get fired and decided to sue on the basis of discrimination, your employer will be able to use the defense that you never complained or gave them the opportunity to resolve discriminatory behavior that may have taken place.
Regardless of what you decide to do, your key objective should be to stop being miserable in a job that is no longer serving you. In these difficult economic times, take the opportunity while you still have a job to find another.

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