An employee at the City of Markham has been placed on leave after allegedly using the N-word during a presentation at George Brown College on Wednesday.

The news comes after the college confirmed the incident in a statement issued on Thursday night, calling it “harmful” and “disheartening.”

In an email, the city said the language was used in a case study presentation on an arbitration decision delivered to students.

“The City of Markham was recently made aware of a troubling incident involving the use of racist language by a staff member,” Spokesperson Bryan Frois said in an email.

Frois said the staff member has been placed on administrative leave and a third-party investigator has been called in “to review the situation and provide recommendations.” 

“The City of Markham is committed to supporting diverse communities, and we stand firmly against all forms of hate, racism and discrimination,” Frois said.

George Brown College President Gervan Fearon said in a statement Thursday that the college’s Office of Anti-Racism, Equity and Human Rights (OAREHRS) has launched its own formal investigation “to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to address this issue and prevent this from occurring in the future.”

“This incident is harmful and can be a traumatizing experience for many of our students,” Fearon said. “We are connecting directly with the students from the class to provide any and all supports necessary.”