You go to work day in and day out, and due to the atmosphere in your work environment, you dread it. Employees make offhanded remarks about your looks or your heritage, and your supervisors or managers do not appreciate you or feel you are worthy of advancing your career — even though someone else with less experience and a different skin tone just got the promotion for which you applied. Sound familiar? If so, you may be a victim of race discrimination.
Sadly, in California and elsewhere, race discrimination is very much alive in the workplace. Employers may do all that they can to make you think it is all in your head, and reporting the problem may seem to make things worse instead of better. When your employer fails to stop the problem, you may have legal recourse.
Race discrimination defined
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, this type of discrimination is treating an individual differently or unfairly because of his or her ethnic background or any physical features associated with his or her race — such as skin color, hair texture and facial features. At the end of the day, none of these things affect a person’s abilities to perform the functions of his or her job.
Harassment from other staff members
Race discrimination goes beyond refusing to hire someone, firing someone or refusing to promote a person based on that individual’s ethnicity. Race harassment often comes from fellow employees in the forms of:
- Using racial slurs
- Offensive comments
- Displaying of offensive symbols
In order for any of these things to be illegal, they must occur frequently or be quite severe in nature. They must also make the workplace environment hostile for the victim.
If you believe that you are a victim of race discrimination, harassment or both, you do not have to stand by and take it. Reporting the problem is the first line of defense in resolving the issue. If that fails to produce a desirable result, then you can look into your legal options.
After you report race discrimination, your employer has a responsibility to investigate the matter and take appropriate action. Sadly, many find that this does not happen. When it doesn’t, you may have the right to file civil claims against your employer and all those responsible for the discrimination. Through successful out-of-court negotiations or litigation, you may achieve compensation for your losses.