June 2022 Federal Employment Law Training Group Newsletter

One Word Can Make All the Difference

Last week, Grammy-winning artist Lizzo made headlines when she changed the lyrics of a recently released song after being made aware that one of the words used was a slur against people with physical disabilities. Her response to the fans who pointed out the error: “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me … Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language … This [lyric change] is the result of me listening and taking action.”

While many people applauded this move, some thought it was extreme and said and “you can’t say anything anymore without offending someone.” I believe that’s an oversimplification. How difficult is it to change a word to something that isn’t steeped in hurt, negative history, or dehumanization? Not difficult at all. Whether it’s correct pronoun use, a term charged with racial or religious undertones, or something else, I encourage all of us to do better. The right word can make all the difference. So can the wrong one.


This month, we look at a few of the newest decisions to come out of the MSPB, including one that may the Board’s biggest decision in more than a decade. We also have stories on reasonable accommodation and creating a workplace safe from harassment.

Take care,


Deborah J. Hopkins, FELTG President

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