Protecting your rights in the workplace.

Common Types of Race Discrimination and How To Address Them

Despite extensive legal protections, race discrimination still occurs in various forms, making it crucial for employees to recognize and address these injustices.

Types of Race Discrimination in the Workplace

Race discrimination can manifest in several ways, often creating a hostile work environment. The most common types include:

  • Direct Discrimination: This occurs when an employee is treated less favorably because of their race. Examples include being denied promotions, raises, or job opportunities based on race rather than merit.
  • Indirect Discrimination: Policies or practices that appear neutral but disproportionately affect employees of a particular race can be considered indirect discrimination. An example is a company policy requiring certain hairstyles that conflict with cultural or ethnic practices.
  • Harassment: Racial harassment involves unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s race that creates a hostile work environment. This can include racial slurs, jokes, derogatory comments, or any other behavior that demeans or humiliates an employee based on their race.
  • Retaliation: Employers may retaliate against employees who report race discrimination or participate in investigations. Retaliation can take many forms, such as demotion, termination, or negative performance evaluations.
  • Microaggressions: Subtle, often unintentional, discriminatory comments or actions can undermine and devalue employees based on their race. While seemingly minor, microaggressions can accumulate and significantly impact an employee’s work experience.

Legal Protections Against Race Discrimination

Several federal and state laws protect employees from race discrimination:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

Offers broader protections than federal laws, covering employers with five or more employees and prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on race and other protected characteristics.

Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866

Guarantees all individuals the right to make and enforce contracts regardless of race, which includes employment contracts.

How To Address Race Discrimination

If you believe you have been subjected to race discrimination, taking the following steps can help protect your rights and build a strong case:

  • Document Incidents: Keep detailed records of discriminatory actions, including dates, times, locations, and any witnesses. Document interactions with supervisors, HR, and coworkers, as well as any emails, messages, or other communications that may support your claims.
  • Report Internally: Follow your employer’s internal procedures for reporting discrimination. This typically involves filing a complaint with your HR department. Ensure that your complaint is in writing and keep copies for your records.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Speak to a trusted Los Angeles race discrimination attorney. They can help you understand your rights and the strength of your case. A lawyer can also guide you and provide valuable advice on the best course of action as you navigate the claims process.
  • File a Charge with the CRD or DFEH: Before you can file a lawsuit, you must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California’s Civil Rights Department (CRD) . These agencies will investigate your claims and may help resolve the issue.
  • Consider Mediation or Settlement: Sometimes, mediation or settlement negotiations can resolve discrimination claims without going to court. Your lawyer can represent your interests and help negotiate a fair settlement.

Filing a Lawsuit

If internal reporting and agency investigations do not resolve the issue, you may choose to file a lawsuit. Your employment lawyer in Los Angeles will help you file the necessary documents and represent you in court. A favorable outcome can potentially result in reinstatement if you were wrongfully terminated, back pay and front pay, compensatory damages for emotional distress, punitive damages in cases of egregious conduct, and attorney’s fees.