No action was taken against him after a human resources investigation into his quotation of the slur, Mr. Pesca said. He said he had apologized to the producers involved.
Mr. Pesca said Mr. Check, the chief executive, and Jared Hohlt, Slate’s editor in chief, had brought up the previous instance of his quoting the slur when they spoke with him after the Slack conversation. He added that they had mentioned another instance of his using the term that he did not recall.
Mr. Pesca, whose interview style at times seemed to embody Slate’s contrarian brand, said he was told on Friday that he would be suspended for a week without pay. On Monday he was informed that the suspension was indefinite and that he would either have to accept severance or be the subject of an investigation, he said.
Mr. Pesca, who has worked at Slate for seven years, said he was “heartsick” over hurting his colleagues but added, “I hate the idea of things that are beyond debate and things that cannot be said.”
Jacob Weisberg, Slate’s former chairman and editor in chief, who left the company for the podcast start-up Pushkin in 2018, called Mr. Pesca “a huge talent and a fair-minded journalist.”
“I don’t think he did anything that merits discipline or consequences, and I think it’s an example of a kind of overreaction and a lack of judgment and perspective that is unfortunately spreading,” Mr. Weisberg said.
Joel Anderson, a Black staff member at Slate who hosted the third season of the podcast “Slow Burn,” disagreed. “For Black employees, it’s an extremely small ask to not hear that particular slur and not have debate about whether it’s OK for white employees to use that particular slur,” he said.