A CANBERRA paramedic who was allegedly called ''sooty'' has been too traumatised to return to work for more than a month, and says the racist insult has devastated him and his family.

The paramedic filed a formal complaint against ACT Ambulance Service management last month after the ''sooty'' remark was overheard during a conversation between two superiors.

After an internal investigation, the incident is understood to have been referred to the Human Rights Commission.

The victim has been unable to return to work in the ambulance service, saying he was deeply hurt by the remark.

''This has had a devastating impact on me and my family,'' said the paramedic, who wishes to remain anonymous.

''I did not expect this kind of behaviour from a manager in the ACTAS.''

Acting ACTAS chief officer David Dutton said the agency took ''such matters seriously and expected all staff to treat each other with courtesy and respect''.

The staff member who made the remarks has been ordered to make a formal written apology and participate in ''appropriate training''.

That response has angered the organisation representing ambulance workers, the Transport Workers Union.

Union official Ben Sweaney said ambulance officers were ''outraged'' by the weak response to the racist comments.

''Officers are aghast that such behaviour is tolerated by [ACTAS],'' Mr Sweaney said.

''Ambulance officers reject racism and discrimination. The TWU calls on the government to stamp out all forms or racism and take a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination,'' he said.

Mr Sweaney said the union would be working with managers to ensure they were aware of their responsibilities to provide a workplace that was safe, happy and free from discrimination.

The victim has been offered a range of support services.