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Indian Man Told To Apologize For Walking Out Of Company BBQ After Boss’ Wife Made Racist Comments

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Socializing with your bosses can be a sticky situation even at the best of times. But when conflict arises–especially of a racial nature–things get real complicated, real fast.

An Indian man on Reddit found himself in this situation when one of his superiors and his wife behaved inappropriately towards him at a company barbecue, subjecting him to racist comments and insulting his religion. And it only got worse when his boss demanded he apologize to his superior, not the other way around.

He wasn’t sure how to handle the situation, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole) subReddit for perspective.

The Original Poster (OP), who goes by NoDragonfruit4499 on the site, asked:

“AITA for walking out from a barbecue hosted by my boss’ boss after I overheard him and his wife say some mean things about my nationality and faith?”

He explained:

“I (M[ale]28) am an Indian guy who works in the US office of a large Indian IT company. Software Engineers from India try to supplement their incomes by going ‘onsite’ and working in US/UK/EU offices, plus it gives us better opportunities to network and further our career growth. I arrived in the US on an H1B visa 2 months ago, and I might stay here for up to 2 years.”

“My boss’s boss held a barbecue at his place on Sunday. I am a Hindu and a vegetarian, so I made sure he knew in advance.”

“I also asked if I should make my own food arrangements, and he replied that Sue (his wife) will take care of it. ‘We have some vegan folks joining us’ he said, and I said all right.”

“Sunday was a disaster, honestly. When I arrived, I could only see a ton of meat and a little bit of mashed potatoes, and a pasta salad that was all but finished.”

“I did not arrive late—a lot of people turned up early, and nearly finished the only two things I could eat. The vegans were nowhere to be seen.”

“I grabbed a beer and socialized for some time when my boss met me and asked why I was not eating anything, and I told him what happened. ‘That’s Sue for you’ he said with a sigh. Turns out she had made the same mistake before.”

“And before I could stop him he walked into the home and asked her in a loud voice what she had prepared ‘for the only vegetarian guy here’. She looked at me and said something that I could not hear. Then he walked back out into the yard and told me they were not expecting me as the vegan group canceled, and she thought I was one of them.”

“His boss, who by then had a few, tried to get me to eat a burger, and when I refused, he said ‘don’t be such an uptight idiot!’ I tried to explain that Hindus don’t consume beef, and besides, I am a vegetarian anyway, so I do not consume any meat products at all.”

“His wife then walked out and said ‘well, there is nothing he can eat’ and I said ‘That’s fine. I can eat something later’. She then asked ‘who asked you to come anyway?’ I replied that her husband said she would handle it.”

“She then raised her voice and nearly yelled ‘You are not listening to me! I just said there is nothing for you to eat here!’ And then she said something along the lines of ‘these bloody Indians make our lives difficult every fu*king time’ and then to me ‘you should not have come here because we just slaughtered your holy fu*king cow’ and pointed at the grill.”

“Turns out she had a few too. A few people joined in the laughter, and I just smiled and walked out after wishing them a good day. My boss asked me to stop but I just said I would see him at work the next day, and walked out.”

“The next day at work, I was asked by my boss to apologize to his boss in writing for walking out after he had graciously invited me (his words not mine). I said I will apologize when he does, for his and his wife’s behavior.”

“Honestly, It did not matter that there was no food left for me, I would have had something to eat later. But their behavior was appalling and totally unwarranted. He said ‘you better apologize soon, else he might make things difficult for you’.”

“I refused, and stayed at home today. I am planning to take this up with HR, but a few people in the office are saying it was insulting to my boss that he has to ask me to apologize to his boss, and that I should apologize ‘just to keep the peace’.”

“Your thoughts please?”

Redditors were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this situation based on the following categories:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
  • NAH – No A**holes Here

And as you might expect, they were appalled by the behavior OP was subjected to and were firmly on his side.

“NTA”

“And get to HR fast, so your complaint is on the record before your boss, or their boss, makes a complaint.” –Jazzlike_Humor3340

“NTA.”

“My husband’s company is hiring as fast as they can, here and in India. You can do better than that company.” –allbow

“DOCUMENT EVERYTHING.”

“document what he says to you, especially about ‘making things difficult for you,’ as close to verbatim as possible, with dates and naming parties that overheard if possible”

“document the party, who was there, times, dates.”

“document every chilly encounter that happens from now on. All of it.” –honis4u

“NTA of course. First since when your boss is allowed to ask you to apologize for something that banned outside work. Yeah I apologize for g0being invited in a place where I was insulted, shamed in front of other ppl, laughed at, and heard my culture being openly mocked. The nerve.”

“Yep go to HR also try to remember who was there as potential witnesses. Do not let this go because it will not stop and people will like up on this. To be honest I would send an email to the two bosses stating that I will not apologize and recall all the situation . See how they would react it might give you amunitions” –sohereiamacrazyalien

“Make sure with all HR interactions there is an email summarizing in detail all that was said, HR works for the company and not you. It is a trick HR is basically there to purely deflect law suits essentially so always make sure there is a detailed report and paper trail submitted and have everyone involved CC’d, it forces them to work for you instead of against you.” –Intelligent_Ad5654

“I find it disgusting that they could actually make those comments and expect YOU to apologize. This is the most toxic, racist, disgusting workplace and I’m so fu*king sorry you have to work there. Please immediately take this to HR, make it difficult for them instead.”

“And make it clear to HR that your boss said that. He literally threatened you with that, that his boss would make things difficult for you.”

“NTA. I cannot apologize enough for the actions of those human beings and I wasn’t even a part of it.”

“My parents are vegan for health reasons and no matter the reason I could never imagine trying to force them to eat meat, and then insult the fu*k out of them after and then try to make them apologize.”

“Ugh.” –opinionatedjars

“No no no no no. NO APOLOGIES to any of those bigoted a**holes. In fact, you should go straight to HR, and you should also tell them that co-workers have warned you to expect retaliation, which is of course illegal.” –strywever

“NTA.”

“Your boss’s boss bumbled some hosting basics. He indicated more than once that his wife was responsible. While his wife is not obligated to the professional dynamics, your boss’s boss involved her in the circumstance involving the food.”

“Her remarks and others reactions are incredibly rude and unacceptable in any social setting. But that it involves people from your place of work is more upsetting.”

“Leaving early was a great option, as it was unlikely to improve.”

“Your boss doesn’t seem to realize that asking you to take responsibility for being insulted AND apologize to ease communication and convenience moving forward with the tension escalates the level of insult.”

“You are a gifted and articulate writer.”

“I would reach out to HR and also email/paper trail communication moving forward.”

“Something like, I appreciate the invitation to attend Boss Boss BBQ. I shared and communicated openly about food preferences ahead of time. Upon arrival, I was informed that due to miscommunication, foods previously discussed were not made available.”

I understa”nd things happen and intended to enjoy the company without the meal, but conversation became less enjoyable for me when negative remarks were made about my heritage and implications that my race and religion are inconvenient, and a matter that stood in contrast to the gathered company (insert exact cow quote, etc.)”

“My decision to leave shortly after was not indication or intention of being a rude guest but as a guest wanting to avoid rude conversation that I felt hindered professional communication and rapport. I am certainly open to discussing future communication and efforts necessary to foster the inclusive work environment that would continue to move us forward.”

“I was requested to apologize in a work environment following the above circumstances and feel that this request warrants further reflection and discussion. Thank you, bye” –purpleit11

Hopefully OP can find the support he needs at his job in dealing with this conflict.

Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, content producer and performer originally from Michigan. His writing has also appeared on YourTango, Delish and Medium, and he has produced content for NBC, The New York Times and The CW, among others. When not working, he can be found tripping over his own feet on a hiking trail while singing Madonna songs to ward off lurking bears.