Racial discrimination in the workplace unfortunately remains extremely common in the United States. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 34% of discrimination complaints filed in fiscal year 2017 were race-based. In fact, this was the second-most common reason for filing a discrimination complaint in 2017 after “retaliation” (49%). Sometimes this type of prejudice is subtle in nature. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify the many forms it can take and how to resolve this issue when it occurs.
A key legal provision that every employee should be familiar with in order to gain an understanding of racial discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Here is a close look at this section of the landmark law and how it applies to today’s workplaces.
Title VII Of The Civil Rights Act Of 1964
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandates equal employment opportunities for all workers in the United States. More specifically, this section forbids employers from:
- Refusing to hire an employee because of their race;
- Disciplining or terminating an employee based on race;
- Offering an employee lower compensation because of their race;
- Failing to provide benefits, promotions or other work opportunities to an employee based on race; or
- Inadequately segregating or separating employees and applicants by racial background.
Labor unions and representatives are also not permitted to exclude individuals from these groups based on race. The same is true for employment agencies and decisions regarding referrals. Most states also typically have their own laws concerning racial discrimination in the workplace. However, the processes used to file discrimination claims may vary depending on the state.
Examples Of Racial Discrimination In The Workplace
There are dozens of examples of racial discrimination in professional settings. However, here we will focus on four common instances: refusing employment, denying equal access to training opportunities, denying promotions and benefits, and harassment based on race.
Refusal Of Employment
No employer should ever refuse to hire you because of your race. The only valid criteria for denying an applicant a job is a lack of qualifications for said position or a poor interview performance. If you have a strong reason to believe you were refused a job solely because of your race, you may be able to file a discrimination claim.
Denial Of Equal Access To Training Opportunities
If you are denied training upon receiving a job offer based on race, or if your training is significantly less extensive than that provided to new hires of other races, this also constitutes racial discrimination. Every employee should always be thoroughly trained for a new position, regardless of race or ethnicity.
Denial Of A Promotion Or Employee Benefits
Your employer cannot deny you a promotion simply because of your race. They may only deny you a promotion if they deem another employee is more qualified for the position. They are also not allowed to refuse to provide you with mandatory employee benefits such as health insurance, 401(k) and retirement plans, and unpaid family leave on the basis of race.
Harassment From Coworkers Or Management
If you are harassed at work in any way because of your race, you may file a racial discrimination claim. This includes colleagues or superiors who use racial slurs or make racially insensitive jokes or remarks. Physical harassment based on race, ethnicity or skin color also generally constitutes racial discrimination.
What Can I Do If I Have Been Discriminated Against At Work?
If you have experienced racial discrimination at work, the first step you should take involves raising your concerns with the people involved. You should also speak with a human resources manager or supervisor about the incident(s). It is also highly recommended that you file a formal complaint in writing. You should also compile any evidence of racial discrimination you may have, such as audio recordings and emails.
Learn More From The Experienced Civil Rights Attorneys
Reach out to the experienced civil rights attorneys at Parnall & Adams Law in Albuquerque for more information on racial discrimination in the workplace. As a career civil litigator and a prior federal prosecutor, we know that each case is unique.
In the state of New Mexico, the Human Rights Bureau enforces the Human Rights Act of 1969, which prohibits discrimination and retaliation in areas such as employment, housing, and credit. The statute of limitations for many types of claims in New Mexico is generally three or four years, depending on the claim. If your case goes to court, we can defend you to ensure your rights are protected.