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it wasn't the smartest comment in the world, but it is not like you said anything bad about anyone. What is wrong with liking ping pong? :) I should also point out that ping pong is popular in Japan; if you said "those Americans sure like their football", there would be nothing to be offended about--you were stating a fact that in no way perpetuates a negative stereotype.
If you were disciplined by this comment alone, it would definitely be overkill. If your employment was compromised by this comment alone, you would arguably have a wrongful termination suit. I really would not worry about it.
Let me know if I may be of further assistance. Thank you.
Nobody likes to be categorized, and there is a degree of subjectivity to the offensiveness of a categorization--which is why the comment was not a smart one. Still, I doubt that you meant that all Japanese like ping pong, but it is popular in that culture (as evidenced by the proliferation of ping pong tables at Nissan Japan).
But still, under the worst case scenario, no laws were broken unless you have created a climate or culture of harassment, fear or intimidation among your subordinates and any response from your union facility would need to be proportional.
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