• LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+

Stopping A Boss Who Makes Offensive, Discriminatory Remarks

by on
in Your Office Coach

Question:  “Our new department head makes many inappropriate comments. For example, he told a co-worker that because I’m really old, he doesn’t know how I will fit into his future plans. Later, he directly asked me if I was thinking of retiring.  I’m 53 and have worked here for 21 years. The thought of retirement has never crossed my mind. Another incident occurred when a young co-worker and I were laughing about something. The boss said that we got along very well considering our age difference. He also makes comments to women about their anatomy or weight.  Everyone finds his remarks offensive. He’s our top manager, so what can we do?” — Insulted

Marie's Answer: Your dimwitted department head is not only alienating his staff but also creating legal liability for the company.  Given these biased comments, any action he takes against older employees may be viewed as discriminatory.  And the anatomical references could easily trigger a sexual harassment charge. Sadly, he’s also serving as a terrible role model.  When executives engage in bad behavior, other managers often follow their example. Someone needs to blow the whistle on this guy.  And that’s why we have human resources (HR) departments. HR folks routinely clean up the messes made by clueless managers, so they should welcome the chance to nip this problem in the bud.  However, you must make your complaint in the right way. Here’s how:

* Schedule a meeting with the HR manager at a time when your absence won’t be noticed. Ask that the meeting be kept confidential.

* Nominate two or three co-workers to attend this meeting.  Group complaints have more impact and reduce the odds of individual retaliation.

* Bring specific examples of your manager’s offensive comments, including exactly what was said, when, and to whom.  Facts are much more powerful than generalities.

* Finally, present this as a business problem, citing the effect on morale and the potential for discrimination charges.  Emotional rants and personal attacks will weaken your case. 

If you work in a well-managed company, swift action will follow and the comments will stop.

Leave a Comment