Double Standards at Work: Employee Discipline

Ashley Isom August 2, 2023

Reprinted By Imanche Sunday Adiyoh March 26, 2024

Have you ever been fired from a job because of the color of your skin? For some, this may seem unbelievable. If you’ve never been reprimanded for human errors that others are allowed to get away with in the workplace, you may be unaware of the issues that black employees face every day.

In a recent article, New Edge Times showcases a Floridian woman who was fired from her job working at Gallagher’s Steakhouse in Boca Raton. In her story posted on YouTube, she recalls her experience as the only black server hired by the restaurant, and the cause of her termination. She was late one time and terminated after wasting nearly two months in training to open the restaurant. What job have you ever worked at that terminates someone after their first tardy offense? When it is pointed out that she had attempted to call her manager to inform him that she was running late, it becomes obvious that the real issue embedded in the termination is unconscious racial bias.

The woman also revealed that as the only black person working in the front of the house, she was the only server that wasn’t allowed near the host stand. Why wouldn’t the only black server in the establishment be allowed in a spot where other servers are allowed? 

She has become the poster-person for anti-racism organizations throughout the nation. Her story has reached multiple headlines and news publications, echoing what many black Americans speak about and experience every day. “The story about the woman being fired from Gallagher’s was the one that broke everybody, all at the same time,” said Cheryl Lynn, co-director of an anti-racism organization founded in San Francisco. “We already knew that systemic racism is alive but the video she posted was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Black Americans, in general, have a history of oppression since our country’s origins. Even though slavery has been abolished and human rights laws have been established, the undercurrent of racism still exists throughout capitalism.

Similarly, a black woman in San Francisco accounts for three separate occasions where she was fired from her job where racial bias was the cause each time. A black woman in New York who was fired from an Equinox gym said her termination occurred due to excessive lateness but said plenty of her white coworkers were consistently late and were not fired for it. She sued Equinox and was awarded $11.3 million in the settlement case after it was confirmed that she was the only employee fired for that reason, despite many others also being late just as often.

White people do not have the same work experiences as black people. They don’t receive the same punishments, rules, and restrictions placed upon them for simply being imperfect. But just because something isn’t happening to you doesn’t mean it’s not a reality for others. There’s no denying that systemic racism exists today and continues to plague the lives of black Americans.

Systemic racism is a system, and until that system is dismantled, the effects will continue to linger and be prevalent in a black person’s life. In the case of the San Francisco woman, she was met with opposition and speculation because of her multiple claims, when in reality, her claims are much more realistic than a one-off situation. Racism doesn’t simply happen one time. A black person could experience a lifetime of systemic racism, facing harsh judgment every time they apply for a job, go to a store, go to school, or work in a predominantly white establishment.

Each of the women referenced in the article was questioned, pushed away, and deemed “liars” by those who were guilty of racism or in denial of the effect it still has today. Until this country’s system benefits people from all walks of life, racism will continue to affect the lives of those who are oppressed. 

Unfortunately, people of color have many stories from many jobs, and it’s important to listen to their stories, hear their voices, and help ignite change for the better. Workplace racism doesn’t happen only once to a black individual. It will continue to happen, over and over, until a real, lasting change is made.

One thought on “Double Standards at Work: Employee Discipline

  • March 26, 2024 at 5:31 am

    Regrettably, individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups possess a multitude of occupational narratives, and it is crucial to attentively heed their accounts, acknowledge their perspectives, and facilitate transformative progress. Black individuals are not subjected to workplace racism on a single occasion. The occurrence will persist, again, until a genuine and enduring transformation is achieved. The ramifications of systemic racism inside the workplace can have extensive consequences, encompassing not only the individual who encounters it but also the broader work milieu and organizational culture. Organizations can initiate the process of addressing and dismantling the systems that sustain racism and discrimination by attentively listening to the experiences and viewpoints of marginalized personnel. True development and inclusivity in the workplace can be realized through these collaborative endeavors. Racism is not an isolated incident affecting a black individual. The occurrence will persist, again, until a genuine and enduring transformation is achieved.


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