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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 29780
Experience:  Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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A coworker accused me of being racist and prejudice to a

Customer Question

A coworker accused me of being racist and prejudice to a contract worker and I have never made any statements or acted in that way. I have a black father in law, black daughter, mixed wife and another mixed daughter. How will this hold up with HR and if necessary legal action?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

If she has no witnesses to you making the alleged statements, that may work in your favor. HR will talk to you and the other person involved to try to get to the root of what happened. If they're trying to say you don't like black people, then it may help to have pictures of your family handy so you can show how ridiculous that statement is.

As far as legal action goes, it's defamation of character to make untrue statements against someone that harm your reputation. Telling everyone you made racist comments that you did not make cold fall within that category. You have the burden of proving she said you did that (if HR has records of a complaint or grievance process, or if anyone who overheard her statements, that would help). If you wind up losing your job (and I hope you don't), you may also have a case for intentional interference with employment. But you can get damages for defamation from small claims if anyone heard her comments and thought less of you.

Also, is this an ongoing issue with that particular co-worker? Hostile work environments based on someone's race don't have to be just the employee's race. if your co-worker is subjecting you to negative treatment because of the race of your wife and children, then that's discrimination and you may have a claim. The company, once they're aware of the behavior, is supposed to take steps to stop it. That may be something else to talk to HR about.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have 2 contract workers that heard and said they would be witnesses to the statements she made against me. One of the witnesses is black himself
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
That's extremely helpful, then. If you sue, there is a strong likelihood that you would prevail, if you suffer any economic loss or other harm. The judge will be looking for any evidence that these hurtful comments damaged your reputation among people who heard them.