Two co-workers, one of whom is deaf, are asked to meet with an executive from another firm. They go to the other man's office, and a sign-language interpreter accompanies them. The executive chooses to face the interpreter, speaking to him, not looking at or acknowledging the employee who is deaf.
An African American woman, in a staff meeting about budget issues, hears a white co-worker suggest cost-cutting measures for landscaping: "Why don't we just get the Mexicans to do it?"
A woman writes, "A good-hearted liberal co-worker makes comments at staff meetings like, 'All Republicans are stupid,' or, 'All Republicans are this,' or 'All Republicans are that.' I'm a Democrat who agrees with her politics, but I think those comments are as offensive as someone saying 'All immigrants are lazy' or 'All Irish people are drunks.' Stereotyping is stereotyping. Short of saying, 'Some of my best friends are Republicans,' what can I do?"
Seize the moment. With the interpreter, the colleague said, "I hate to interrupt, but just as a matter of practice, you should look at the person you're talking to, not the interpreter." In the meeting, an observer might say, "What do you mean by that? What are you saying about Mexicans?"
Address the issue privately. Take the coworker aside and gently explain what you find offensive: "You know, you're giving Democrats a bad name when you make sweeping generalizations about Republicans."
Check in with the meeting leader. If you are uncomfortable dealing with the speaker directly, consider speaking with the person who called the meeting. Set expectations or ground rules prior to the next meeting.