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name-calling from a coworker Virginia

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  • name-calling from a coworker Virginia

    I hope I'm posting this in the right forum...sorry if I'm not, I'm new to the site:

    I have a question. I have had a coworker, in the last few weeks, call out derogatory remarks about my hair color (I have red hair - hense my profile name ) - the entire office laughs when these remarks are made and I feel embarassed to the point of leaving the office and going home. It bothers me and I have approached this person about the problem through an email. I have asked for the same type of respect that I would show this person; I would never call out something derogatory about this person that would encourage laughter from the office at the person's expense.

    I don't want to go to the manager, because it has happened only a few times. But it has created a tense and stressful work environment for me. Besides, this is something I do NOT consider to be discrimination. It isn't. But it is causing me a lot of emotional stress. I woke up at 2:30am this morning worrying over this, so it has come home with me. I haven't slept since.

    If this continues, what is next? I'm kind of tense about going to the office manager if I have to, because she, too, has made sarcastic remarks about my hair color (outside of work). I'm not one to be confrontational, but I have enough stress without dealing with this employee's remarks.

    Heck I'm concerned about even bringing up the remarks, as I feel most people would blow it off as nothing and disregard my tension as a result of it. I don't even care if someone makes these remarks outside of the office. But it's a professional setting, and the remarks were snide, unprofessional, and very immature.

    Any advice?
    Last edited by rdhd; 07-25-2008, 02:13 AM.

  • #2
    and the remarks were snide, unprofessional, and very immature.
    But, not illegal (unless you are being singled out for this treatment on the basis of a protected characteristic such as race, age, gender, etc.).

    If it's bothering you that much and you don't feel that the office manager will be helpful and are unwilling to go to her, then I'd suggest that the best thing you can do is look for another job.
    I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply. I'm considering new employment.

      And I'm not really sure going to the office manager would even help. /shrug

      Just thought I'd see if there was any other advice out there.


      • #4
        Then, and pardon the pun, fight fire with fire.

        Gilgamesh, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were all crimson hued.

        Granted, so is Bozo and Nicole Kidman, but at least you get the idea.
        Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

        I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

        Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.


        • #5
          Well, it seems like my email worked. The coworker is neither talking to me nor making a big deal out of it.


          • #6
            Depends on your state, which I didn't see. In Michigan, for example (though not in many others), your appearance is a protected characteristic, and it would be harassment. Most other places though, it'd just be name calling, which is childish, but legal.


            • #7
              No one else is saying it, so I will. I have to insert some reality here.
              What's the big deal?

              Someone is insulting your hair color. Why would this cause you so much stress & anxiety????? Why the sleepless nights? If this is the worst thing in this world that you have to be worried about, you need to re-examine your priorities in life.

              If you like your own hair color, why do you care what this person says? I'm guessing that you're an adult and not 6.

              I'm blonde and I like my hair. If someone insulted me for it, I'd be like "oh, well." But I certainly wouldn't be lying awake at night.


              • #8
                Is it insulting, or teasing. Some people can't tell the difference. Some people lack basic social skills.

                Perhaps the person is jealous about your hair. When one person asked me "Where did you get all that blond hair?" I replied "Scotland" and the joke was on them.

                Let it pass, as the person could be after you for the size of you chin or something equally stupid. (Look at Jay Leno)


                • #9
                  Regardless of what the coworker said, it was enough to warrant giggles and laughter from the office, which made me uncomfortable. My problem is the unprofessional attitude. There are other instances which led up to this. New employees have come to the office as well. If this individual is going to be childish and unprofessional, then it's going to create a negative atmosphere for these new employees right out of the gate.

                  I love my hair color, but that's not the issue. The issue is that name-calling does not belong in the workplace whether it's a tease or not. I even mentioned in the email that I'm fine if the name calling is outside of work, but not in the office.

                  I'm about 10 years older than the coworker and I hate unprofessionalism in the workplace. Joking is fine, but what occurred crossed the line. I don't feel - teasing or not teasing - a person continually blurting out something like this person did for the expense of a laugh is something that should continue in the workplace. Once, sure...but two, three, four times?

                  I took the advice of an article I read online this morning and spoke with a sympathetic, friendly employee who I can trust about the situation. This employee's jaw dropped when I mentioned what transpired. This person was floored and couldn't believe the immature and unprofessional way the coworker had acted.

                  I believe the confrontation was warranted. It went beyond teasing. I confronted the coworker and nothing else has come of it, so it worked. I just wanted advice as to what to do if it continued, which it has not.
                  Last edited by rdhd; 07-25-2008, 12:10 PM.


                  • #10
                    I totally agree that you had to say something or confront the person, and I totally agree that the teasing behavior was childish and unprofessional. But what I did question was your emotional reaction to the teasing, which seems extreme:

                    "I feel embarassed to the point of leaving the office and going home..."

                    " has created a tense and stressful work environment for me"

                    " is causing me a lot of emotional stress"

                    "I woke up at 2:30am this morning worrying over this, so it has come home with me. I haven't slept since."

                    You have to admit, your anxiety seems out of proportion to the stressor. Especially when " has happened only a few times."

                    I too hate unprofessionalism in the workplace. But if this small problem is causing you that much distress, you might need to seek the type of help that can't be given on a message board.


                    • #11
                      Actually, the only "state" where personal appearance is protected is the District of Columbia.

                      Michigan protects weight, and I believe height, but not overall appearance.
                      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


                      • #12
                        Agree, ht & wt is all Mi. protects re appearance.
                        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.


                        • #13

                          I'm not going to explain away what causes one's emotional distress. Someone could be having a bad day and get a comment about their weight, big nose, etc. and feel emotional distress because everything prior is piled up on them. I've seen it. And I can almost bet you've seen it and have even reacted that way in your lifetime as well.

                          Regardless of WHY I felt the way I did is not the issue here. If someone's words have created that feeling inside of me, it's a problem in the workplace. Even if I hadn't been distressed over it, it is uncalled for in a professional setting.

                          I'm not sure what "reality" you were trying to inject with your reply. Everyone is different; Everyone reacts different ways. That is reality. The next red haired person to walk into my office may laugh it off and not be bothered by it. Good for them. They have personality traits that are different than mine. Human beings are not created the same. That's why people in the workplace should refrain from doing what this individual did.

                          Perhaps individuals should stop and think before they open their mouths at work.


                          • #14
                            I so far at work have been called a fat azz by a server n becuz i have a gap in my teeth gappy by others including store manager. I was born with clubbed feet and ask for breaks n can not get them when asked. By the way I am in Michigan. I also was hit by a co-worker by her hips as she walked by with attitude because she thought i said something about her which i never mentioned her name. Since my hours have been cut n she still has all of 40 hours. I am down to less than 20. Also I lived in Geogia for a year and they all think I am from there so therefore call me stupid. Is any of this legal?


                            • #15
                              KMM, please start your own thread instead of hijacking someone else's. Thanks.
                              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


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