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How To Deal With Prejudice And Inappropriate Jokes At Work

We have been talking about work place ethics in our discussion group and Melissa (one of the members) had a story that we thought we should share with you, and have your opinion.

Here is Melissa's dilemma:

My name is Melissa. One of my colleagues at work is from Asia. Her name is Lee. She is very nice and very competent. In addition to that, her writing skills are much superior to that of many other people in the office. 

However, I feel like the boss is always looking for the littlest excuse to bring up anything that Lee does wrong. For instance, many times, other colleagues made mistakes or sent emails with plenty of typos, and I mean plenty of typos. The boss never addressed those people or if he did address them, it was in private. As a matter of fact, I have received some emails even from my boss in which they were a lot of typos (some of those emails were sent to the entire office).

In 3 years at the firm, I have never received any email from Lee that had any typos, until two months ago where she omitted an "s" at the end of a word. It was not that big of a deal. However since then, my boss is always making very inappropriate jokes about Lee's writing skills in front of everybody. The boss even brought in totes and t-shirts that have the word Lee misspelled on them.

I am seriously bothered by that, because I can see that Lee is just getting picked on. I have tried to talk to Lee to encourage her to speak with the boss, but she is too scare to do so. Because of her culture, she sees the boss as an authority figure that cannot be questioned.

Do you think it will be appropriate for me to approach the boss and let him know that it does look like Lee is getting picked on by him? 75% of my friends think that I should stay out of it. The other 25% think that i should find a way to empower Lee so that she can talk to the boss herself.

I do think that empowering Lee seems like a very good idea. Please advise me on how to proceed to empower someone who is so scare of the boss. 


Thank you!

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