Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) provide overarching protection against discrimination in the workplace. In addition to prohibiting hostile work environments, these employment laws prevent employers from engaging in ethnic discrimination. Essentially, Title VII and the PHRA ensure that a person’s ethnicity stays out of employment-related matters, such as advancement, promotion, or termination.
HKM Employment Attorneys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is an award-winning legal practice focused on workers’ rights in the employment context. HKM Employment Attorneys have the knowledge and influence required to mount a legal action against companies large and small. If you were subject to unlawful ethnic discrimination in the workplace, contact us today to learn about your legal options.
Legal Definition of Ethnicity
Ethnicity refers to a person’s cultural background and customs. Ethnicity is not an immutable characteristic like race or national origin — features a person is unable to change. Instead, ethnicity refers to a person’s cultural identity, which is a combination of ancestry and practice.
Examples of ethnic practices include but are not limited to:
- Food or nutritional choices
- Preferred language or dialect
- Religious practices or holidays
Overall, ethnicity is a broad term that encompasses a number of cultural characteristics. Furthermore, an employee’s cultural choices are not always on full display in the workplace. This makes ethnicity difficult to discern in certain cases, as it is not visible to an outside observer.
Legal Protection Against Ethnic Discrimination
In the face of ethnic discrimination, Pennsylvania employees can take advantage of legal protections under Title VII and the PHRA. Specifically, it is unlawful for employers to make employment decisions — such as advancement or promotion — purely based on an employee’s ethnicity.
The concept of ethnic discrimination also includes pervasive harassment that constitutes a hostile work environment. If colleagues, clients or supervisors consistently berate an employee based on his or her ethnicity, that conduct likely qualifies as unlawful discrimination.
In specific terms, employers are not allowed to make employment decisions or discriminate based on the fact that an employee has:
- Ethnic or cultural characteristics;
- A relationship or affiliation with people of a certain ethnicity; or
- Membership in an ethnic organization.
If an employer engages in ethnic discrimination as described above, then the affected employee(s) can pursue legal action under Title VII or the PHRA. In those circumstances, it is advisable to seek legal counsel from an employment lawyer.
Fight Back Against Unlawful Ethnic Discrimination
If you were subject to unlawful ethnic discrimination in Pennsylvania, it is vital to take legal action immediately. Especially in cases in which the employer threatened retaliatory action, it can be extremely helpful to consult with an employment attorney. With years of experience protecting employee rights, HKM Employment Attorneys have the proficiency to fight back against ethnic discrimination and related considerations. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.