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Once the emails/banter become(s) uncomfortable, provided they don't come across as actually aggressive or calculated abuse, an initial approach along the lines of "You need to realise that what you have just said is unacceptably racist/sexist/ homophobic/abusive such that I could raise a formal disciplinary complaint. However, I will assume on this occasion that you did not intend this and propose not taking the matter further, provided it is not repeated. Nevertheless, be warned that, if there is any repetition I will raise a complaint and refer back to this occasion as showing a pattern of behaviour." Anyone who has merely overstepped the mark unintentionally can be expected to back off and/or apologise so that the matter is resolved, with relationships restored and lessons learned. Formal processes can then still be invoked if the colleague continues to make a pest of him/her self.

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