In This Ask Dr. Sabrina "Should I let my coworker go for her racial insensitivities?"

Dear Dr. Sabrina,

I have been following you for years, in fact you came a spoke at a conference my church gave about 10 years ago. I value your insights and wisdom. I am having an issue at work with my co-worker. I am a black man and want to make sure I handle the issue appropriately.

I work with a white woman who is very inappropriate with her joke and her questions. During a staff meeting where we were attempting to get to know the members of the team better, we were asked to share our favorites things to do outside of work. The white woman responded with “Picking Cotton”. Can you believe that? I have natural hair locs to be specific. She shared that she feels I should cut it to look more professional, as I was up for a promotion. She stated that in a corporate setting the leadership (all white) would not be ready for a black man with locs.

Well, the final thing she did was one day ask me if my daughter was my birth child due to her being much lighter in skin tone than my wife and I. I feel like she does not ever just value my skill sets and says very insensitive things to me as a black man.

I have gotten the promotion and now I am her boss. I do not want to deal with her implicit bias behaviors and we are in an “At-Will” state, I can let her go and just be done with her. Now, I must be honest she is a productive employee and gets the work done. Should I let her go for her racial insensitivities?

Dealing with Differences,


Should I let me coworker go for her racial insensitivities?