I'm an off-shift chemist in a manufacturing plant. I work closely with a group of process workers, 90% of which are minorities.

It seems like the African American and Hispanic workers are always getting write-ups and suspensions for honest mistakes.

There's a Caucasian worker on my shift who is constantly cutting corners. He's recently caused an issue out of laziness and when confronted about it, he blatantly lied. He even implicated me. When I was questioned by management, there was no doubt they believed me; however, he hasn't been reprimanded in any way. The minority workers on my shift say this type of favoritism happens all the time.

Clearly, leniency based on race is discrimination. We do have an anonymous hotline. Should I seek out an explanation from HR first? Can I do this without looking "problematic"?

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    "he hasn't been reprimanded in any way" How on earth would you know? There's a reason why reprimands are given in private. Discrimination is a real problem but it's incredibly difficult to prove and it's career suicide to report stuff like this. Your only realistic choices are to ignore it or find a better company. VTC because reporting procedures differ by company and location and we can't guess how your management would react. – Lilienthal Nov 10 '16 at 13:37
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    "Can I do this without looking "problematic"?" - No. Political correctness is always irritating and way off base. There's lots of reasons it's not appropriate for you to act as an impromptu representative of all other cultures, but that's a separate issue I suppose. – pay Nov 10 '16 at 14:26
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    @PeterM not really. The racism is the issue. The rest is an anecdote to show an example of the issue, just one. – Chris E Nov 10 '16 at 17:02
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    You could also probably file a complaint with a governmental agency depending on your jurisdiction. Be aware that any complaint (to hotline or elsewhere) could eventually cost you your job. Of course, that alone is typically actionable as well (again, depending on your location). Were it me, I'd call the govt, call the hotline and start looking for work anyway. – Chris E Nov 10 '16 at 17:04
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    @ChristopherEstep The only factual thing in the question is the coworker falsely accusing the OP. The rest is hearsay or opinion (albeit may be true). We can't sort out hearsay or opinion here, but even if it was true then IMHO the advice would still end up being the same even if that part of the question was omitted. – Peter M Nov 10 '16 at 17:09

Clearly, leniency based on race is discrimination

All you have is hearsay from others. If the minority workers on your shift are discriminated against, they should call the hotline and present their facts. You have nothing. You have guys saying that in unspecified events, unspecified person were treated differently than in this case, where you don't even know what happened exactly to the guy in question. All you know is he wasn't fired.

In your case, you have no proof at all that it was discrimination. They might have decided exactly the same if it had been someone else. You cannot possibly know.

A hotline cannot somehow work magic. You can call them but that will end up nowhere. If you want to make a difference, collect some data they can work with. Who was discriminated against? When How do you know it was discrimination (i.e. who was treated differently when)?.

Until you have at least collected basic facts, yes, you will look problematic. Not because of discrimination issues, but because you are gossiping.


What happened to other workers is hearsay. You need them to step forward and lay out their side of the story - time, date, location, circumstances, parties to the incident, witnesses of the incident.

Since it happened to you, you'll need to step forward and report and document your own incident, too. Tell them that while you appreciate being cleared, the fact that this white worker got away with lying is creating a perception of racial favoritism by management, a perception that you urge them that they address.

If you have reason to fear retaliation, use the hotline. Otherwise, make a written complaint to HR.


If the distribution of "issues" is statistically normal, and 90% of the staff are minorities, then it stands to reason that you'll hear more about them getting write-ups than the others. But you don't have the actual numbers to prove what you perceive to be a pattern.

If you cry wolf and you're wrong, you're DONE. You'd better have some facts.

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    If you cry wolf and you're wrong, you're DONE. can you back this up? Have you seen this happen or do you just have suspicions that this is the case? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Nov 10 '16 at 19:59
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    Management and peers will always distance themselves from people who make claims about the workplace that they can't back up. It wastes peoples' time and energy, and sorts the person out as a complainer. This doesn't take a genius to figure out. – Xavier J Nov 10 '16 at 20:04

I understand that you are upset that a co-worker buggered up and lied to implicate you (apparently getting away with it), but if there is no proof I would not expect for the company to necessarily do anything visible to you. The fact you felt they believed you and you did not receive a reprimand yourself is an indication.

In the other cases you mention involving minorities (and the majority of the work force) there may have been no doubt about where responsibility was, or the worker was honest and owned up to it, so reprimands were easy to dispense.

You might want to ask your manager privately and verbally about the situation, if you are on good terms. They may be building a case to dismiss the person for all you know.

Going to a hotline or HR and crying discrimination is really a nuclear option. You can be pretty sure they have written documentation to cover each of the reprimands - you could easily be on thin ice in trying to prove a negative.


If you haven’t already, I recommend documenting the “mistakes” with times/dates, what happened, what the repercussions were, etc. Be detailed. Document when your Caucasian co-worker did X and got away with it; document when your African-American co-worker does X and doesn’t get away with it.

You need this evidence to make your case. Other wise, as you can see, people think it’s just hearsay and speculation.


If you call the hotline with very general description of discrimination they won't have anything specific to address.

If you provide specifics then management will figure out it is you.

Management is aware. I would let them work it out.

If management is incompetent then calling them out is not going to help your career.

HR gets know the number of minorities and receives write-ups. If they cannot do simple analysis they are incompetent.

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    One benefit to calling the hotline is that if they're sued at some point, ignoring warnings would hurt them. That alone may cause them to take it a little seriously. – Chris E Nov 10 '16 at 17:01

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