Although federal and state law has policies to protect employees from discrimination at work, racial discrimination is still a problem in the workplace. In a lot of cases, employees facing racial discrimination from their employers may be afraid to report the matter due to power dynamics.
However, if you experience racial discrimination or harassment from your supervisors or colleagues, race discrimination lawyers can help. At HKM Employment Attorneys, we use years of experience to help employees experiencing discrimination in the workplace seek the justice or compensation they deserve.
What is Race Discrimination?
Racial discrimination refers to treating an employee or applicant differently because they belong to a racial minority group. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits any form of discrimination in the workplace based on race, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, national origin, marital status, pregnancy, or disability. It applies to all stages of employment, starting from hiring and promotion to employee benefits and firing.
Racial discrimination does not have to be directed towards you to create a hostile work environment. If you’re married or have a partner who is of a different race, then you can still be subject to discrimination from your employer, colleagues, or clients. You may also face unfair treatment or harassment because you share the characteristic of a certain race, such as hair texture or facial structure.
As most employers strive to prevent workplace discrimination, they may formulate neutral policies and guidelines that apply to everyone. Although this may promote uniformity in the workplace, it may result in racial discrimination if the policy negatively affects people of a certain race and is not necessary for the job.
Examples of Discrimination at Work
Employment discrimination can occur in many forms and can range from race to religious discrimination. To help you understand what constitutes race discrimination in the workplace, we’re provided a few examples:
- Inappropriate jokes or comments about an employee’s race
- Using racial slurs
- Assigning employees belonging to a racial minority different duties based on a stereotype
- Asking about racial identity during job applications for malicious purposes
- Not hiring employees from some races to maintain company image
- Taking unfair disciplinary action and wrongful termination on employees of a certain race.
You should report any employment discrimination to your employer for investigation. You can also file a complaint with the EEOC or Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC). Since EEOC law applies to companies with 15 or more employers, consider WSHRC for small businesses.
What Are Examples of Indirect Discrimination in Terms of Race?
Racial discrimination can either occur directly or indirectly. Direct racial discrimination occurs when an employer or colleague treats an employee differently because of belonging to or associating with a racial minority group.
Indirect discrimination, on the other hand, occurs when workplace policies disadvantage employees of a certain race. Below are examples of indirect racial discrimination.
Creating a dressing code that prohibits hairstyles like cornrows may count as indirect racial discrimination as employees from some races may be disadvantaged due to hair texture.
A job advert that requires all job applicants to have English as their first language. Although it applies to everyone equally, it disadvantages applicants with other native languages as their first language.
A no-beard workplace policy may discriminate against employees or specific racial or religious groups, especially if the policy does not affect the safety or efficiency of business operations.
If your employer can prove that these policies are necessary for the job, the case may not qualify as indirect racial discrimination. You should consult with an experienced race discrimination attorney to discuss your case and determine if seeking a lawsuit is the best course of action.
Is it Illegal to Discriminate Based on Race?
Employees are protected from employment discrimination based on race and national origin, according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964. It is, therefore, illegal to discriminate against any employee belonging to a racial minority when hiring, firing, promoting, and training, or offering pay and any other benefits that come with the job.
Title VII applies to public and private employers with 15 or more employees. Note that the law does not only apply to existing employees but also job applicants. It is also illegal to enforce policies that exclude individuals with characteristics associated with a certain race, such as color, hair texture, and even medical conditions.
For example, sickle cell disease mostly affects African-Americans. Implementing a policy that excludes people with sickle cell disease can amount to racial discrimination if it has no impact on the job. It also violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The law prohibits harassment leading to a hostile work environment based on race or association with a racial minority. If you file a complaint for race discrimination, your employer cannot legally retaliate by cutting your hours, demoting you, or terminating your employment. If this has already happened to you after filing a racial discrimination complaint, our lawyers can help you seek the justice you deserve.
Consult with a Bellevue Race Discrimination Lawyer Today
Always consult legal professionals before taking action to gain a better understanding of your options. If you need legal advice or legal representation when handling employment issues in Bellevue, the HKM Employment Attorneys law firm can help. Our discrimination attorneys have extensive experience handling legal issues and providing advocacy for employees on a number of employment law issues. Contact our offices to discuss your case during a free initial consultation.