While companies all throughout the United States have attempted to increase the diversity of their teams, there, unfortunately, continue to be people who don’t believe in these efforts.
This can create terrible friction in the workplace, as well, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
A Redditor who has since deleted her account had mixed feelings after reporting a coworker who accused her of exploiting her race for hire.
But after what happened as a result, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she took things too far.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for reporting a coworker after she called me a ‘diversity hire’?”
The OP recently got her dream job.
“I’m a recent grad and managed to get my dream job at a highly prestigious company.”
“The competition was super high and even now many of my colleagues are extremely ambitious and well-connected individuals from wealthy families.”
“In contrast, I’m a Woman of Color (of mixed heritage) from a disadvantaged background and worked hard for everything I have.”
The OP was featured in the company’s latest marketing campaign.
“Recently I was asked by the company if I was interested in being featured in their marketing campaigns and ads. I did several interviews, photo/video shoots, and tons of promo stuff.”
“My pictures are on the company website (I have my own page discussing my experience) and I am featured on many of the marketing materials released by the company.”
“I was a little taken aback by the amount of exposure and attention but figured it couldn’t hurt.”
The OP repeatedly heard comments from a coworker.
“One of my colleagues is another grad (‘Susie’). She repeatedly voiced her displeasure with the fact I am so heavily featured in marketing.”
“She sarcastically said that I’m obviously the ‘favorite’ and that the company doesn’t care about her and our colleagues.”
“It almost felt like she was angry and blaming me. It made me feel uncomfortable and I tried to keep my distance as much as possible.”
Then Susie personally confronted the OP.
“A short while ago she invited me to have lunch with her. I thought this was maybe an attempt to start a new page and finally get along.”
“We talked about our experiences so far and then she casually said that nobody expects much from me.”
“I was confused and she said that I’m ‘obviously a diversity hire,’ so they just want me there to look good.”
“Of course, I was shocked and hurt but I didn’t argue with her at all.”
The OP then went to Human Resources (HR).
“After lunch, I brought this incident up with HR. I made it clear how disturbed I was by those comments.”
“Long story short – Susie was fired. It shocked many of the people I work with (particularly the grads) and caused some drama.”
“Some of Susie’s friends have reached out to me and claimed that she’s now depressed and ‘at the worst point of her life.’ I’ve been told that Susie worked very hard for this opportunity and that I destroyed everything in an instant.”
“They said that I was a complete a**hole for taking this to HR so fast instead of communicating with Susie.”
“On the other hand, my friends backed me up and said this was completely deserved.”
“Honestly, am I the a**hole in this situation?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some pointed out this comment was not an isolated incident.
“People generally aren’t fired over one incident (unless it is something like committing a crime). They are fired for a pattern of behavior.” – bamf1701
“Not only did this employee create a hostile workplace and specifically target OP because of her race and perceived favoritism over time, but she also organized a whole lunch to attack her. Her racism and unprofessionalism were egregious.”
“Not many companies would want to wear the liability of retaining an employee holding those beliefs and acting on them.” – raya__85
“Honestly, I used to work for one of the most image-conscious corporations in the US and this would definitely get disciplinary action but unless she was in her 90-day probationary period they wouldn’t fire for this if it were the first offense.”
“I know because I saw something similar happen there with one of my coworkers.”
“The AH got written up, transferred to a different department, had to attend some kind of special training on his own time, and it was made clear that he’d be fired for any further offenses. But he kept his job and didn’t even get demoted.” – RemarkableMarker
Others were concerned about Susie’s friends.
“You said, ‘Some of Susie’s friends have reached out to me…'”
“And if any of these friends work for the same company, that workplace may still be hostile. OP needs to start documenting.” – PrideofCapetown
“If they (Susie’s friends) don’t see the wrong in what Susie did, then screw them.”
“The only thing I can say is that they may not have an accurate account of what happened. I would tell them and if they continue, then definitely report them as well.” – Fit_Coyote_7117
“It is NOT your fault Susie is now in the state they say she’s in – it is hers. Basically, when Susie was working there, she was blaming you for her perceived lack of success.”
“Now that she’s gone, she is still doing this. She has no sense of responsibility for her own life and probably always has / always will blame others for her shortcomings because it’s easier than introspecting and trying to change herself for the better.”
“This was never anything to do with your race; it was always to do with Susie’s low self-esteem and entitled attitude.”
“You carry on shining, and definitely please report Susie’s friends (if they work with you too) if they continue to harass you.” – charleyljbird
While the OP felt guilty for what had happened to her coworker, the subReddit insisted she had done the right thing.
If Susie had only said the wrong thing at lunch, she probably would have been reprimanded rather than fired. Since they already had a history with this tension, it was time for something to change when the OP stepped forward.