Two questions on workplace discrimination.

Not actual cases so I believe it is GQ and not IMHO.

Inspired by the NFL discussion over the n-word.
Suppose I work at a place where black people use the term “nigga” for each other. Management has heard this many time and does nothing to stop it. One time I as a white person say “What up, nigga?” not meant in a derogatory way. I get fired for “workplace insensitivity”. Is that racial discrimination?

Let’s say there is an industry that is well known as gender-biased. No one and comes out and says, “We didn’t hire you because you have a vagina.” but women only form a small percentage of management which gets smaller the higher you go up and other issues. Let’s use a sports magazine as an example. 25% of editors are women, 10% of head editors are women and only 2 department heads are women. A sports owner told a female reporter she “has a great ass.” and requested the females from the magazine wear short skirts but her editor does nothing as to “not offend the owner.” Hiring/promotion criteria include not outright discriminatory factors but certainly gender-biased like preference for former football/basketball/baseball players. So you are a woman and apply for a promotion. You are the most qualified person applying with time with the magazine, awards, professional certification in your field. You’re boss always calls on you to deal with the tough interviews, great performance evals, etc. And you lose the promotion to a former baseball player that has not worked for the magazine let alone as a reported but is a friend of the Chief Editor. How would you go about proving sexual discrimination? Unless the Chief Editor is stupid and said “because you’re a woman” on tape or in court, can such overt and systematic sexual discrimination really win the lawsuit for you?

I’m not expert but I’ll take a shot.

Hmm. I’d say no because you weren’t fired for being white. You might have a point about being treated differently than blacks who were allowed to use words you weren’t though.

Your employer could be sued for not discliplining you for doing that, by the way, if someone argued it was tolerating your creation of a hostile work environment for using the word and being hostile to black employees.

It would all come down to whether the word is offensive or hostile, and what your intent is, and whether that matters. That’s a question that bears examining even without a workplace discrimination case to bring it up, of course.

I would think so. If every discrimination case had to rely on an overt statement of intent to discriminate, few would succeed.

There is a system for demonstrating that discriminatory motivation should be inferred in the circumstances. The Wikipedia page on “McDonnell-Douglas burden-shifting” explains the basic premise of how a case survives to the trial stage without any direct evidence.

This might be analogous to a man being fired for using the women’s restroom, which is routinely done by female employes. If one class of employees is offended by the behavior of a member of another class, that could be grounds for firing, without justifying a claim that the person would not have been fired if he had been a member of the offended class.

Within the workplace, an employer has a right to assume that his workers understand what kinds of things are personally offensive to other workers, and take corrective action of offenses occur.

I wonder if I, as a white person, can complain that I’m offended by the word “nigger” too. Which is true.