You are an employee at a company and over a period, you have observed harsh treatment towards a black co-worker. When asked, your boss says he is hard on her because he wants to see her improve her weaknesses and reach her full potential, however it is perceived as discriminatory by not only you, but others in the office as well.

Questions to the Applicant

1. What is going through your mind?

At this point, I am wondering if this is discrimination or if the boss is hard on her because she has potential that he is trying to help her realize. If he is trying to help her realize her potential, he should treat other employees with the same level of intensity, as his goal should be to help everyone flourish. The major problematic factor is that she is being treated differently from others. However, it is possible that the boss genuinely wants to help her and is pushing her to genuinely help her. It is difficult for me to discern what is occurring; I will have to investigate to find out what is occurring.

2. What should you do?

I need to gather information to learn what is going on. First, I would talk to the employee of color and ask her about her experiences, as it is possible that I am misinterpreting what is going on. First, I would ask her how she feels about how the boss treats her-if she feels like he treats her fairly and equal to others? If she feels he treats her well, then there is nothing further to investigate. However, if she feels like she is being discriminated against, I would ask her how long this has been occurring, as well as ask for specific examples of this ill treatment. I would encourage her to approach the Human Resources department with her concerns so they can help her mediate this situation with the boss. Additionally, I would approach the boss to investigate further, why he treats her like this. If he genuinely believes he is helping her grow, I would be understanding but also point out how his treatment of her may be perceived by others. If he confesses to discriminating against her, I will notify him that discriminatory behavior is not acceptable in the workplace. If he agrees to change that is great, but if not, I will report him to higher authorities in the company.

3. What would you do if you were the employee being discriminated against?

I would first investigate and find out if I am truly the only person being treated this way, it is possible that he may be treating other employees in a similar fashion but I may just be unaware of this. If it turns out that he is treating others equally harshly, then there is no problem, as I am not facing discrimination. However, if it turns out that I am the only person receiving this treatment, I will approach my boss to share my concerns. If he is understanding and commits to changing how he treats me, I will be forgiving and give him a second chance, but if he is harsh and refuses to hear my concerns, I will approach the human resources department with my concerns so they may help me mediate this situation.

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