When Do Jokes Become Racial Discrimination?


It is unfortunate but not surprising that racist people still exist in every part of the world. Whether it is your family, school, or workplace, incidents of racism may happen once in a while. Some people try to disguise their racism in the form of a joke, but racist jokes in the workplace can give birth to a hostile environment. 

Jokes and banter are only funny when they do not attack your race or color. If your employer and coworkers are frequently engaging in offensive banter regarding your race, you need to raise the issue with your supervisor. If they retaliate against you, you can take the help of an employment attorney virginia

Are any kind of racial jokes appropriate?

First of all, all jokes related to a person’s race or skin color are inappropriate, even if the person making the joke thought it was “harmless.” Racial jokes are a form of racial harassment, and so is stereotyping. Frequent jokes or harassment can result in a hostile work environment and even affect your ability to perform at your job. 

Common forms of harassment faced by victims of racial discrimination are racial slurs, physical threats, and racial jokes. Sometimes these jokes can have physical elements, which are a clear indication of discrimination. 

For example, hanging a noose in an area where a Black employee works is a severely offensive behavior and is enough to count as discrimination. 

When do jokes cross the line?

Jokes usually cross the line when you have already asked the person to stop making the remarks or “jokes,” but they continue to do so. When you find a person making offensive remarks, you must immediately ask them to stop. If the same person makes these jokes again, they cannot raise the argument that the conduct was unwelcome when you file a complaint. 

If you are aware of their discriminatory remarks against your race and do not ask them to stop, they may blame you for “welcoming” their comments. 

What can you do?

The first step after receiving offensive racial remarks is to file a claim with the human resource department. Then, the company becomes liable for the employee’s discriminatory behavior. If the problem continues, you can file a complaint with the EEOC. 

Factors that define whether you have a case are: 

  • Frequency of the conduct
  • The severity of the conduct
  • If the behavior interfered with your ability to work
  • If the behavior was physically threatening or humiliating
  • The context of the conduct

By keeping quiet, you allow people to become more comfortable being racist around you. Nobody can help you if you do not take the first steps. Contact an attorney today. 

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