A Madison, Wisconsin School District Fired an Employee for Using the “N Word.” Here’s Why they Rehired Him

Marlon Anderson worked for the Madison, Wisconsin school district for 11 years before he was fired for using the N-word in a confrontation with a student.

That statement alone seems reasonable. As a society, we’ve agreed that there are some words so bad that one saying is an instant termination. In most contexts, I would agree with this type of termination, but not in this case. And, fortunately, the school district just rescinded that termination and offered Anderson his job back.

Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore said that Anderson would be reinstated after they looked at the facts. 

The facts are always the most critical aspect of any situation–and you should look at them even in cases where you have strict zero-tolerance policies. Here’s what happened.

On October 9, Anderson escorted an “unruly” student out of the building. Both Anderson and the student are black. Anderson says that the student hurled racial epithets at him, including the n-word, and he responded, telling the student not to say such a thing.

To keep reading, click here: A Madison, Wisconsin School District Fired an Employee for Using the “N-Word.” Here’s Why they Rehired Him

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5 thoughts on “A Madison, Wisconsin School District Fired an Employee for Using the “N Word.” Here’s Why they Rehired Him

  1. The concept of “zero tolerance” is — unfortunately — frequently misunderstood and misapplied. Zero tolerance simply means that management can no longer just ignore the situation, but has a duty to investigate and determine what further action — if any — is appropriate. Zero tolerance is misapplied — as it was, initially, in this case — when management, mistakenly, interprets it to always require the “death penalty” (termination), regardless of the actual context in which the alleged violation occurred.

    1. “Zero tolerance means zero thought, and that is not what you’re looking for.”

      Unfortunately, for the people who implement zero tolerance policies, that is *exactly* what they are looking for. If you’re not allowed to think, you can’t make a mistake. You can’t do anything right, either, but at least you won’t embarrass your boss. Leaves him more time to embarrass himself.

      It always reminds me of a quote from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation: “There can be no justice if laws are absolute.”

      1. The assumption is that you won’t embarrass your boss that way. The reality is a bit different though – In this case, firing the guard was a far more embarrassing move.

  2. Sounds like a typical zero-policy situation in today’s world,– you need to be totally non-offensive but forget to realize that they in their zero-policy are completely intolerant of others. The world is not completely a one-sided affair but a blending of all.
    I am glad this person got his job back (hopefully with back pay for time missed).

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