Making fun of hairstyle?

I’m an African American female. I wear my hair in its natural state. My white co-workers and manager make fun of my hair, saying there’s no more slavery and I should use relaxers in it. This is really bothering me. What should I do?

Posted 08-05-2013

Steve Duggan replies:

I’m sorry to hear, first, that your co-workers are not respectful enough to recognize this is bothering you and, second, that your manager is participating, instead of putting a stop to it. These remarks are clearly based on race and maybe also on gender, and I’m sure prohibited by your employer’s discrimination and harassment policies. I recommend that you first tell your manager that these jokes are bothering you and you’d like them to stop. If that’s too difficult, I suggest you go directly to HR and/or go over your manager’s head to his boss. In almost all cases, some notice of the harassment has to be given to a company before one can go to court. You can also go outside the company and file a complaint with the closest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office. And, of course, you can also consult with a local employment attorney. Good luck! I hope it stops soon.

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About the Author:

Steve Duggan graduated from the Law School at the University of Notre Dame while on active duty in the Air Force. He has extensive experience representing management litigating cases of wrongful termination, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment. Steve also has experience in all phases of administrative litigation of unfair labor practice charges, and class and individual complaints of employment discrimination. He has been an instructor of seminars for supervisors and managers on labor management relations and other personnel issues, and for lawyers in basic and advanced trial advocacy courses. Steve came on board with Fair Measures in 1998.