Calling another person the “N” word, especially at one’s place of employment, is considered racially offensive and grounds for termination. But what if a person calls himself the “N” word? Can you get fired for racially insulting yourself? One Syracuse, N.Y. government employee learned the answer to that question the hard way.
Todd Gordon, a black Department of Public Works employee, was fired after calling himself the “N” word.
From Syracuse.com :
Gordon was working as a street repairman in the city’s Department of Public Works in October when another worker objected to their job assignments.
The other worker, Ed Firnstein, went into a supervisor’s office to complain that he should have been assigned a roller truck instead of a dump truck, Gordon said. Firnstein, who’s white, wanted to switch assignments with Gordon, who had less time on the job.
Gordon went in the office and objected. Firnstein called him a “f—— punk,” according to Gordon.
“You know what, man? I’m tired of this. You don’t like working with (N-words) like me,” Gordon responded.
Gordon was later fired for using the racial slur.
“You initiated a verbal confrontation with another employee, you used a derogatory term, albeit in reference to yourself, you violated the work place violence policy by using loud, disruptive or angry behavior or language that is clearly not part of the typical work environment,” DPW Commissioner Pete O’Connor wrote in a letter to Gordon.
DPW Deputy Commissioner Martin Davis told Gordon in January that the city has “zero tolerance” for the type language he used.
Gordon is fighting to get his job back and his union is supporting him.
“He didn’t call someone else a (N-word). He didn’t turn around and say, ‘You’re a f—— (N-word).’ He was talking about himself,” said Steve Barnum, president of the union that represents the city’s DPW workers.
Barnum says the other workers who’ve been fired in the past for using racial slurs used the derogatory terms against someone.
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