RACIST OR NOT, IT’S JUST RUDE . . . .

There are some interesting things going on over in Detroit.  According to the Detroit Free Press, former Detroit Corporation Counsel Kathleen Leavey is suing the City of Detroit claiming “she was demoted when she described the court as “ghetto court,” during a conversation in January. Leavey says she was forced to resign her post as interim corporation counsel after [Chief Judge Marylin] Atkins contended in a letter that the ghetto remarks were racist.”  The lawsuit claims reverse race discrimination among other things.  Ms. Leavey is white.  During discovery in the case, Deputy Mayor Saul Green was asked by Ms. Leavey’s lawyer if the use of the “N” word was more offensive when it was used by a white person than when it was used by a black person.  Mr. Green was instructed by a city lawyer not to answer the question and he did not.  Now Ms. Leavey’s lawyer wants to take Mr. Green’s deposition again and get an answer to his question.  You can see the Free Press article here:  http://www.freep.com/article/20090923/NEWS01/90923032/1322/Race-flares-up-during-deposition-on-judge-s–ghetto-court–lawsuit

So, while the City claims this question has nothing to do with Leavey’s suit, this is an interesting question right?  After all, that particular word is hate filled and inappropriate, and yet we hear it come out of the mouths of rap singers and comedians all the time.

Now I have what some of you may consider a radical thought, it’s a bit off point and probably has nothing to do with the Leavey case, but then again this is an employment law blog not a news blog and I’m trying to make a point here.  Here it is: the work place is not a rap song or a comedy stage and the “N” word, along with a bunch of other words that have nothing at all to do with race are just not appropriate for the workplace.  And I frankly don’t care who says them, whether it is someone who happens to be white, or black or a little green person from Mars.  If you are a polite adult you do not use words that you know may offend someone else, especially someone you have to work with all day.  What happened to manners?  Anybody with any common sense at all should know that some words just might offend some people.  Don’t say them at work.  Don’t say them to your coworkers when you are not at work.  Get some manners and don’t say them at all.  But if you just can’t stop yourself from saying things that probably will offend a coworker, then don’t be surprised when you get disciplined for it.