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Pay and benefit discrimination still affects African-Americans

If people have been part of California's workforce for three or four decades, they can tell you that things are looking up for workers of all types. New labor laws protect employees' needs for medical care and proper rest times, and many members of protected classes now have recourse against discrimination.

The journey to equality is not over, however, as many workers are underpaid due to race and gender. A recent study shows a large income gap between white and African-American workers across the country. White employees earned an average hourly rate nearly one-third higher than African-Americans.

There are other ways in which racial minorities are not receiving fair reward for their hard work. Forbes reports that the average African-American family had just $19,000 in retirement savings accounts in 2013. Only 26 percent of these families had any emergency funds at all.

These problems can cause severe deficiencies later in life, such as the need to keep working past a reasonable retirement age and overwork leading to health problems. A sociologist posited that "if you look at racial progress in employment, most of the indicators show there is none since 1980."

Employers have the responsibility to note these divisions and do their best to rectify them. Colleagues are also empowered to note income gaps and encourage managers and directors to work to close them.

Victims of employee rights violations have the right to sue employers in civil court as a recourse for unfair practices along racial lines and other reasons. An attorney can help advise victims of discrimination on the requirements for a civil case.

Source: Forbes, "How To Fix Racial Inequities In The Workplace," Richard Eisenberg, accessed May 30, 2018

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