Ethnic discrimination is similar to racial discrimination, but the two are not completely identical. The difference lies in the exact reason why an individual experienced discriminatory or hostile behavior in his or her workplace.
Ethnicity refers to an individual’s cultural heritage and includes one’s language, social customs, traditions, nationality, ancestry and sometimes his or her religion and related practices. Race, on the other hand, describes an individual’s physical characteristics such as his or her skin color, eye shape, hair color or texture, or body type.
Examples of Ethnic Discrimination in a Hostile Work Environment
Negative comments about an individual’s ethnicity, jokes that make light of an ethnic group’s serious traditions or recent and historical events that have affected an ethnic group, and different, preferential treatment of people of certain ethnic groups in the workplace are all forms of ethnic discrimination. Ethnic discrimination can occur to an individual even if the victim does not belong to the ethnicity that is being targeted – discrimination based on any perceived or actual connection to a specific ethnic group through one’s spouse, child, or physical characteristics is ethnic discrimination, regardless of his or her actual ethnicity
A hostile work environment is defined as any work environment that a reasonable person would find to be emotionally, physically or mentally draining due to the discrimination that has occurred. Isolated incidents of off-color joking are not sufficient enough to have a workplace labeled “hostile.” There is no legal definition of a hostile work environment – rather, it is up to the court to determine upon hearing the plaintiff’s evidence.
Fighting Back Against a Hostile Work Environment
If you’ve been treated unfairly or been made to feel uncomfortable in your workplace because of your ethnicity, you might have grounds for an ethnic discrimination case. The Washington State Freedom from Discrimination law, RCW 49.60.030, states that it is a civil right to pursue and perform compensated work without the fear of discrimination based on one’s ethnicity, sex, religion, color, national origin, disability status, or sexual orientation.
Take note of every instance of discriminatory behavior you experience. Write it down, record it, or save it to a flash drive if it occurred electronically. When you take your case to Human Resources or to court, you must prove that the discrimination occurred frequently enough or was severe to the point that it negatively affected your job performance or prevented you from advancing within the company. Once you have developed a sufficient paper trail, contact an experienced employment attorney who can help you develop your case. Our attorneys know Washington state employment law and can help you fight for a hostility-free working environment.
Hostile Work Environment Attorneys Can Help
If you’ve experienced ethnic discrimination in your workplace and you want it to stop, call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 to begin working with one of the knowledgeable attorneys at our firm. HKM Employment Attorneys LLP cares about your right as an employee and will help you develop and defend your case. Don’t let your workplace continue to mistreat you – exercise your right to a productive, fair work environment.