Dear Evil Skippy –
My boss blames me for his mistakes and never apologizes when he is wrong. I am Asian and sometimes he makes jokes about how I better not drive the company car. I know if I try to talk to him about his behavior, he will find a way to criticize me. I think the only way to get his attention and make things better is to file a lawsuit. How do I find the best lawyer for the job and how can I increase the odds of winning?
– Ready for Action
Dear Ready –
Let me get this straight. You have never addressed your concerns with your boss and you want to go directly to the legal process? Are you nuts? Before you even think about heading to court, channel your inner adult and talk to your boss. If you don’t think you can manage that, then you need to talk to the boss’s boss or your Human Resources Manager. If you would rather sue than have a grown-up conversation that might actually solve your problem without funding some lawyer’s bank account, make an appointment with a therapist. You need some coaching about how to deal with life. Seriously.
– Evil Skippy
Dear Ready –
Evil Skippy is right that you should talk to someone. Litigation should be a final resort – it is no fun at all. The only people who come out ahead are the lawyers. Plus, the court system is supposed to handle only the most serious, significant workplace problems. This handy chart should make it more clear:
The red circle represents all the possible problems that can exist in workplaces. The tiny white square represents the subset of problems that belong in court. (The diagram is not to scale – the square should be a lot smaller). From what you have written, there might – might – be an issue of national origin or race harassment. Your boss should not be joking about Asians and the stereotype about driving. (If he is saying that you should not drive because you actually have a tendency to crash the car, then this is not a stereotype. The comments would be a safety precaution).
While there might – might – be a harassment issue, this seems like a long-shot from what you have told us here. In order for rude racial comments to be a legal matter, they would have to be pervasive. A comment now and then usually won’t be enough.
If you are not willing to talk to your boss or another manager, your only remaining choices (other than a lawsuit) are to get used to how you are being treated or find a better place to work. Until you find a way to speak up for yourself, however, you may find yourself moving from one unsatisfactory position to another.
Best of luck to you. You can improve your situation. Really.