State and federal laws protect employees and applicants against race-based discrimination in the workplace. Although some of these legal protections have been in place for decades, there are still many instances in which people of different races or colors are treated unfavorably.
The process of asserting your rights and securing fair compensation can be complicated and intimidating. If you are of a different race or color and you feel you have been the victim of racial discrimination on the job, you should talk with a lawyer experienced in employment law issues.
State and Federal Prohibitions on Racial Discrimination
State and federal civil rights laws make it illegal to discriminate against employees and job applicants on the basis of race. This protection applies at all stages of the hiring, employment, and termination process, including advertising, the application process, interviews, testing, hiring, training, promotions, transfers, assignment of job responsibilities, work locations, compensation, disciplinary actions, and termination. The laws apply to for-profit and non-profit organizations, employment agencies and civil service jobs. Protections against racial discrimination extend beyond the employer-employee relationship, to independent contractors, unpaid interns and volunteers.
What is Racial Discrimination?
Some examples of racial discrimination in the workplace might include a retail chain assigning a Latino or African American employee to a store in a neighborhood with a large minority population because of the employee’s race, a factory laying off minority workers before Caucasians who have equal or lesser seniority, or an organization paying black management trainees less than white employees in the same role.
It’s also illegal to base employment decisions on stereotypes about the character or abilities of certain races, segregate minority employees in the workplace, or prevent them from coming into contact with customers. A company may be liable for race discrimination even if the decision-maker or harasser is of the same race as the victim.
Another type of race discrimination involves harassment in the workplace. If executives, managers, or co-workers make offensive and derogatory remarks about race, color, ethnicity, or nationality on a frequent basis, and this behavior makes you and others uncomfortable, this is harassment. The harassment may also originate with others in the work environment, such as contractors, clients and vendors, if the employer is aware of the harassment and fails to intervene.
Harassment can be in the form of racial slurs or jokes, racially-offensive symbols, or physical abuse. These types of unacceptable behaviors can create a hostile work environment for everyone involved. Race discrimination also includes treating people unfavorably because they are dating, married to, or otherwise associated with someone of a different race.
Pursuing a Race Discrimination Claim
The first step toward resolving race discrimination in the workplace is often to speak to a manager or file a grievance or other report with human resources. If that is unsuccessful, the victim may choose to file a complaint with a state or federal agency, and may ultimately file a lawsuit. Technical requirements at every stage can have a significant impact on the outcome of your claim, so it is in your best interests to talk with an experienced employment discrimination lawyer as early in the process as possible.
Retaliation for Filing a Discrimination Claim
In some cases, the employer may respond inappropriately to a complaint about racial discrimination or an investigation by a governmental agency and may retaliate against the employee for filing the report or cooperating with the investigation. There are many forms of retaliation. One common form of retaliation is firing the person who filed the claim, though the employer will often claim that the termination is based on an unrelated Incident or factor.
This type of retaliation is against the law, and taking retaliatory action may increase the employer’s liability.
Schedule a Consultation with an Employment Discrimination Lawyer
If you have experienced race discrimination in the workplace, contact Yarian and Associates for a free case evaluation. We will listen to your story, assess your legal options, and explain how we can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation.