I've had issues with several of my coworkers treating me differently. They are often cold to me, ignore questions that I ask at meetings, are unusually critical of my works, etc. It's always bothered me, but I never knew why they didn't like me.

About 2 weeks ago, another coworker (who is nice to me) told me in confidence that he thinks they don't like me because of the color of my skin. I do have a different skin color, but I thought he probably was overthinking things.

Yesterday, a separate coworker told me that he overheard these same coworkers talking about me. He concluded "they hate you because they're liberal, and they think they're superior because of your skin color".

Now I'm very apolitical (I know nothing about politics and don't consider myself liberal or conservative). This latest coworker may be a "conservative" who is trying to pick a fight with a group of "liberals", and I certainly want no part of it. But the fact that this is the 2nd person who has recently told me that they don't like the color of my skin has me concerned. He might be right.

Is this something that I should bring up to my boss or to HR? I don't know for sure what they're motives are and I don't want to cause trouble, but I'm really tired of being treated so poorly.

  • 3
    You have gossip and hearsay. Do you have actual proof? If not, then unfortunately you have nothing to go to HR with.
    – joeqwerty
    Sep 30 '20 at 17:51
  • Are other people who (I haven't asked or anything) considered proof if they heard anything?
    – Dhilip
    Sep 30 '20 at 17:53
  • Detail proof and etc is needed for the manager and HR inclusion to this, but I don't think this will be an issue, since the two liberals are quite actively involved in harassing you.
    – Gintas
    Sep 30 '20 at 17:58
  • 2
    Again, you have information that was relayed to you by other people. Information that you can't adequately substantiate or prove to be true. Hearsay. Rumors. Gossip. You can go to HR, but my guess is they won't be able to do anything. "So and so told me that so and so said..."
    – joeqwerty
    Sep 30 '20 at 18:05
  • 1
    what location, it's rarely only about skin colour in most places
    – Kilisi
    Sep 30 '20 at 18:07

I always try to take the pragmatic approach. This protects you from getting suckered into a fight over motives that may not be there.

I would be more concerned about their actions than their motives, as it's the actions that matter.

If you are being mistreated, then you are being mistreated, and you should document the actions and then decide if you want to pursue it, or move on.

Regardless of whether you stay or go, for your own peace of mind, talk to your coworkers first, and make sure it isn't a misunderstanding. If that resolves it, then take no further action

If it doesn't, you either stay or go.


  • Update your resume, and be ready to move up in case things go badly.
  • Document all incidents. Each time one happens, politely speak with your coworkers.
  • After you have documented several incidents, without things improving, speak to your manager and see what relief you can get at that level.
  • Continue to document, including action or lack thereof of management

IF this continues.

  • escalate to HR, present your documentation.
  • Continue to document.

If the situation is not corrected beyond minimal compliance or if any retaliation occurs, MOVE ON

If you chose to move on

  • Continue to document everything
  • Update your resume
  • collect contacts from people.
  • Identify people you could uses as references.
  • Limit contact with people with whom you do not get along.
  • Keep all of your documentation in case you need it as leverage in the future.
  • Apply for jobs and bide your time.
  • When you leave, do so on a high note, thanking everyone and saying how much you enjoyed working with them.

Now, a bit more on motives.

I've been discriminated against for my disabilities and one thing I've learned is that if people are bigots who don't want to learn, you can never teach them and trying to force compliance only forces the bad behavior underground and makes it harder to prove.

Some may say that it's your duty to fight against bigotry and various phobias and "isms", but unless you have years to spend in court, and are independently wealthy, the best moves involve protecting yourself, limiting damage, and doing what is best for you.

Also, don't trust coworkers who "got your back", they don't. If they were brave they'd confront the people directly, and not tell you things on the sly that may or may not be true.


First of all, sorry for racial or political bullying, this should not happen in a healthy workplace. I would advise you:

  1. Try talking to these bullies, talk about your experiences, detailing concrete facts and interactions then they hurt you, your feelings, but this might have a limited or a even worse effect because they might treat you even harsher (depends on the culture and company).
  2. If that doesn't help, for sure try talking to manager or HR.Preferably with concrete facts and evidence and the steps you taken to resolve this at your own. You doing your homework will help. In general, this behaviour of bullying will not get better, can only be made worse, and if you want to work here and have a healthy environment this is a must to do.
  3. Depending on the level and severity of this issue and if the above points don't help, I would advise you to seek a new job, because you deserve a proper and healthy workplace.

Also don't try to get involved in this political battle, this will not end up well, as you already know.

  • I'd say that talking with manager/HR is going to result in "sullen compliance" at best, and not actually achieve what the OP is hoping for. Still... might as well try it (while already looking for another job).
    – Ben Barden
    Sep 30 '20 at 17:58
  • It could be true indeed, but this highly depends on the culture, because these things, discussing politics, should not happened at first, so allowing it, allowing to be seperated into parties, well, it is bad management.
    – Gintas
    Sep 30 '20 at 18:00

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