Ethical scenario: What would you do?
A Discriminatory Joke?
Sally, originally from Newfoundland, works in a CAF repair and maintenance crew. Henri is a recent addition to another team that works in the same building, and the two have chatted with each other a few times.
One day Henri approaches Sally to ask if she wants to hear “a Newfie joke.” “Sure,” she says. She is in the mood for a laugh, even if the joke is at the expense of the place of origin she identifies with.
The joke is moderately funny but implies that Newfoundlanders are lacking in practical intelligence. Sally guesses that Henri doesn’t realize she is from Newfoundland or he might not have risked it. She doesn’t have the heart to tell him that she is “one of them” as she thinks it might cause him more discomfort than he caused her.
On reflection it’s interesting because Sally knows that Henri works with another Newfoundlander as well. Maybe he even realizles where she is from, and that’s why he asked her for permission first, in case she would have found it bothersome? Maybe Henri and his other Newfoundlander colleague swap “Newfie jokes” all the time and think nothing of it?
Is there any difference between telling “Newfie jokes” at work, and making fun of people of any other place of origin? Does Sally have some sort of obligation in a respectful workplace not to tolerate jokes about people of a certain place of origin, even if the joke gives her a chuckle when she is from that same place? Would it be OK for Sally to tell her own “Newfie jokes” to team mates if the jokes were, for example, implying that Newfoundlanders had better abilities than “average” people?