Under both State and federal Law, racial discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Employment discrimination can come in various forms. It’s illegal to discriminate against an employee or applicant based on race, religion, gender or national origin. When dealing with cases of employment discrimination, federal contractors and subcontractors must take affirmative steps to ensure equal employment opportunity.
What is the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees working in the United States of America are protected from discrimination in the workplace. This includes discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, religion or gender. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits any employee discrimination based on association with any race, ethnicity, color, religion or gender. Racial discrimination in the workplace is regulated and addressed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Race discrimination in the workplace
There are three primary forms of racial discrimination in the workplace:
Disparate treatment is where an employer treats an employee differently compared to other employees who were in the same situation. Depending on the circumstances, this may be illegal. For example, two employees, Frank who is African American and Mark who is white, visit a restaurant together for lunch. They both lost track of time and arrived back at the office over 45 minutes late. Upon arrival, their boss fires Frank immediately, but only gives Mark a warning. If Frank was fired because he is African American, and Mark only got a warning because he is white, then this would be disparate treatment because of race, which is illegal. However, if the actual reason is that Frank had been late 3 times before, and Mark was a first time offender, then this would be disparate treatment on the basis of attendance, which would be legal.
Disparate impact relates to an employers policy or practice, that affect a group of people directly more than another group ( regardless if it’s intentional or not). For example, Rose, owner of Rose’s Bakery is refusing to hire dishwashers unless they hold a high school diploma. If Rose’s policy affects Hispanics as a group, it could be a form of disparate impact. Rose would have to prove that having a high school diploma was necessary to wash dishes, or she may be guilty of illegal discrimination, even if it wasn’t her intention.
A racially hostile work environment is where racial remarks, derogatory comments, and other offensive behaviors are undesired, severe, and common, and affect job performance or an employee’s quality of life.
What qualifies as race discrimination?
Racial discrimination can arise either on an individual level or to a group of employees. Racial discrimination can be based on an employee’s:
- Skin color, complexion or pigmentation
- Hairstyle or facial features
- Stereotypes or assumptions linked with a certain group
- Speech linked with a certain group
- Physical or cultural features
- Perceived ethnic or cultural heritage
What is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)?
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is a state law which forbids employers to discriminate against current employees or applicants, based on their actual or perceived national origin or ancestry. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is also prohibited for employers to discriminate against a person based on their association with an individual, who is or perceived to be, a member of a protected class.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is illegal for an employer to:
- Decline the chance to hire, discharge, or to otherwise discriminate against an individual regarding compensation, terms, conditions or rights of employment due to one’s national origin or ancestry.
- Refuse to select, train or terminate an individual from a training program, which directly leads to employment, due to one’s national origin or ancestry.
- Print any form of publication, or enquire, that assert any limitation, specification, or discrimination to national origin or ancestry.
- Discriminate against any individual because he/she has disputed any practices forbidden under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), or because he/she has filed a complaint, testified or aided any proceeding under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
- Help, enforce, or coerce the doing of any of the acts prohibited under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
- Harass an employee, applicant or individual provides services pursuant to a contract because of one’s national origin or ancestry.
- Fail to take the necessary steps to prevent racial discrimination and harassment from happening.
How can I prove race discrimination against my employer?
To file a racial discrimination lawsuit, you must first file your complaint with an administrative agency. For a federal complaint, you would need to first file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Under the typical anti-discrimination law, an employee must be able to answer “yes” to the following questions:
- Are you a member of a protected class?
- Were you qualified for your job position?
- Did your employer take unfavorable action against you? This includes hiring, promotion, termination and compensation.
- Were you replaced by someone who is not in your protected class?
Two different types of evidence can be used to help prove racial discrimination in the workplace:
Direct evidence is the most concrete way of showing that racial discrimination and inequality did occur. Direct evidence of racial discrimination includes statements by managers or supervisors that directly describe the action taken against you to protect your protected class status.
Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, relies on an inference to combine the evidence to a conclusion. In most cases, employees must rely on circumstantial evidence to create a premise of discrimination.
Are you the victim of race discrimination?
Under both State and Federal Law, it is unlawful for your employer to subject you to unfavorable employment behavior or actions because of your race or ethnicity. Furthermore, if your employer has created a hostile, abusive or daunting work environment, the law will help protect you against this or any other type of racial discrimination and harassment.
If you were a victim of racial discrimination in the workplace, you may want to get in touch with a racial discrimination lawyer at Wrongful Termination Law Group today.