Our recent post asked “how many times an employee must endure a crude and offensive racial or other epithet for the situation to become a hostile work environment?”   We also asked “Is management simply unaware or oblivious, or is the workplace environment top-down, and employees simply conduct themselves in accordance with what they feel will be acceptable with management – or at least tolerated?”

Kristin Messerli said that “the best way to find out about the culture of your company is to send in an outsider to anonymously survey and then create a systemic cultural change in the company.”

Find out about the culture of your company?   Seems like a good idea, but Ben Simontin, a leadership coach in the Tampa/St. Pete area, took issue:

“Hire outsiders to listen to employees?  That is management’s main job.  How else can they find out what improvements to their support are needed – in tools like computer software, training, coaching, direction, discipline, materials, planning, information, morale, confidence, competence, trust, autonomy, motivation, commitment, and the like.  All of these are management’s responsibility to provide to their employees aren’t they?”

As to how many times a slur may be tolerated, Haroon Chaudry, President/CEO at Xenon Heath in the NYC area, and Vinny Castaldo, a labor organizer in NYC, said  “One,” and “One time only.”    Guess they believe in zero tolerance.

8081950_sLynn Luckett, a nursing director in the Chicago area, disagreed:

“None.   When it gets as bad as racial slurs that means no one noticed or reported the racist actions that normally preclude the words. Racism is aversive now, the obvious discrimination is much less common.”    Guess she feels that management must be held responsible for behavior and comments in the workplace because if has come to racial slurs it is management’s fault for being unaware or unconcerned.   So she feels that it should never come to that.

Judge Mary Elizabeth Bullock, professor/author/lawyer and former EEOC administrative law judge, in the San Diego area described her judicial experience with with EEOC:

“The courts do not always consider the number of slurs as they do the type of slurs, how egregious they are and actions regarding the same.

As a federal civil rights judge it was a case by case analysis.  The [EEO]Commission has not given us any clear tests for determining when it rises to a hostile work environment. You actually have to look at the individual cases that the Commission found to be Title VII violations and what they did not.

Unfortunately, entities such as the EEOC and the federal courts that preside over these matters seem to be immune to name calling – however, turn it back on them and they would not like it for one second hard cases.  See Ernest Hadley, ‘A Guide to Federal Sector Equal Employment Law and Practice.’”

Barbara Maupin, an HR/Diversity expert in San Antonio:

“You raise some interesting questions and it is an alarming trend I that also noticed–degrees of harassment/hostile work environment split along gender and racial lines.  Unfortunately, I think this trend is going to continue as part of the larger journey towards D&I as a society.  Even as employers begin to define standards in the workplace, that doesn’t mean that the justice system will be in lock-step with employers.”