Racism in the Workplace: Learn Your Rights Against Discrimination at Work

Sadly, racial discrimination is no stranger at the workplace. Even though civil rights laws made race discrimination illegal in the 1960s, the practice of treating employees differently based on race and racial characteristics is still widely practiced in today’s work environments.

Discrimination at work is sometimes blatant, but the law also protects against more subtle and nuanced racist behavior, and, today, unconscious bias and prejudice figure highly into cases of racism in the workplace.

What Federal Laws Address Racial Discrimination?

The main law on race discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act was one of the major achievements of the civil rights movement in the 1960s aimed at achieving equality for African-Americans in all areas of society. However, because of the law’s broad wording it applies to all racial minorities, including Latinos and Asians.

Title VII’s racism protections against discrimination at work apply to companies with 15 or more employees. It covers all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, wages, and benefits. Any discrimination on any of these points is against the law.

Most states also have laws carrying even broader prohibitions against racism in the workplace. For instance, in California law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) covers employers with 5 or more employees, full time or part-time.

Race Discrimination and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

If you think you’re a victim of racism in the workplace, the first step toward making a formal legal complaint is to file a charge with the EEOC. The EEOC is the main government agency responsible for addressing racial discrimination claims in the workplace. The EEOC will investigate your charge to determine whether it should take action in the case.

The EEOC can be an effective way to address race discrimination in myriad employment settings. During the 2017 fiscal year, the EEOC managed to secure nearly $484 million in compensation for victims of workplace discrimination.

However, if the EEOC decides not to take action on your case, it will issue you a “right to sue,” which gives you the right to file a lawsuit in court.

“Disparate Treatment” and “Disparate Impact”

Under the law, racism in the workplace falls into two categories: “disparate treatment” and “disparate impact.” (“Disparate” is another word for “unequal.”)

“Disparate treatment” describes situations in which race is a motive for any differences in treatment between one employee and others. This is racism as we usually think of it: worse treatment due to bigotry.

“Disparate impact” describes the implementation of employment practices that, although neutral on the surface, are discriminatory in the way that they impact the workforce. For example, racial minorities are more reliant on public transportation, so workplace policies that unreasonably make it harder for people who use public transit to do their job may be in violation of the law. Disparate impact situations may not be racist in intent, but they have a racist effect.

Call Shegerian & Associates to Assert Your Rights

If you’ve suffered racial discrimination at work, you need a skilled employment law attorney. Anti-discrimination laws, and the EEOC process, are very complicated, with strict rules and deadlines.

Shegerian & Associates has years of expertise and a 98 percent win rate. We charge on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay a thing unless we win a cash verdict or settlement for you. The initial consultation is free. Everything is free. We do it this way so that more people can access the legal system. That’s why we have one of the best reputations in California: We serve everybody, no matter what your job is or how much money you make.

You don’t have to put up with racism in the workplace. Contact Shegerian & Associates today to learn your rights and options.