What is Racial Discrimination at Work

Racial Discrimination at Work: What You Need to Know

Racial discrimination at work is illegal – but what does it look like, and what can you do if you’re the victim?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Racial Discrimination at Work?

Racial discrimination at work happens when an employer refuses to hire you because of your race or ethnicity, passes you over for a promotion, or fires you because of the color of your skin or your ethnic background. It’s any unfavorable treatment that you receive that’s a direct result of you being part of a certain race – or even looking like you’re part of a certain race. (That means even if you don’t belong to a particular race, but you have physical or personal characteristics that people associate with that race, you’re protected against racial discrimination.)

It can also involve unfavorable treatment because you’re married to, related to or associated with a person of a certain race or color.

Discrimination can occur even when the victim and the person who is discriminating are the same race or color.

Related: Types of workplace harassment

What Does Racial Discrimination at Work Look Like?

Racial discrimination can be hard to determine – but here are a few examples. These aren’t always due to racial discrimination, though; the key with racial discrimination is that it must occur because of one of the reasons listed above, such as the color of your skin or your association with a person of another race.

Examples of racial discrimination at work can look like this:

  • People using racial disparaging language at work, such as derogatory terms about people from certain ethnic groups
  • Coworkers or supervisors making jokes about an employee’s race
  • Asking a job applicant about his or her racial identity
  • Assigning different job duties to employees of a certain race
  • Taking adverse action against a worker because of his or her association with a person of a certain race
  • Failing to hire someone of a certain race because he or she doesn’t “match” with the look of a workplace
  • Disciplining an employee unfairly on the basis of race

From another angle, if you have the same (or more) qualifications for a position within your company as someone else of a different race or ethnicity, but the other person gets the position, you may have been the victim of racial discrimination at work.

What to Do if You Encounter Racial Discrimination at WorkWhat to Do if You Encounter Racial Discrimination at Work

If you encounter racial discrimination at work, you have the absolute right to ask the person discriminating against you to stop his or her behavior. That’s true for other types of discrimination, as well, including national origin discrimination, language discrimination, genetic information discrimination, religious discrimination and age discrimination.

Tell your employer about the discrimination. You can tell a supervisor, your supervisor’s boss, or your company’s HR department. You can even ask another employee who you trust to tell a supervisor for you.

What Recourse Do Employees Have for Racial Discrimination at Work?

When an employer finds out about discrimination, it must ensure that it stops. Discrimination is illegal in the workplace.

If your employer fails to stop the discrimination, it can face serious penalties – and you could be entitled to financial compensation for what you’ve been through, too.

You may need to talk to a Glendale racial discrimination lawyer about your situation. Because employers are required by federal and state law to address racial discrimination at work, if your employer doesn’t do the right thing, you could have a case.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Racial Discrimination at Work?

Nobody should have to put up with racial discrimination at work – but if you are, or if you’ve lost a job or missed an opportunity because of it, we may be able to help you.

Call us right now at 818-918-3876 to talk to a caring, compassionate attorney. We’ll answer your questions and talk to you about your options if you have a case.


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