Racial Discrimination During COVID-19

May 11 2020

Global emergencies have the potential to bring out the best and worst in people, and COVID-19 is no different.  While the pandemic has brought many people together in pursuit of our common goals, it also unfortunately has exposed some of our worst qualities, including the judgment of people based on their race, national origin, or membership in other protected classes.

In the COVID-19 context, Asian-Americans and those of Asian descent have been subjected to a sad amount of discrimination, including in the workplace.  Since just mid-March, Asian-American groups have received over 1,100 reports of racial discrimination related to the COVID crisis.

We would all do well to remember the guiding words of the Chair of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair, Janet Dhillon:

“Amidst the challenges we are all facing during these uncertain times, the anti-discrimination laws the EEOC enforces are as vital as ever… The EEOC urges employers and employees to be mindful of instances of harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in the workplace and to take action to prevent or correct this behavior.  Our collective efforts to create respectful workplaces for all our nation’s workers, even during these trying times, will enable us to emerge from this crisis stronger and more united.”

Racial Discrimination in Connecticut Workplaces

Race discrimination in the workplace may include hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment, as well as harassment by supervisors or coworkers.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat racial discrimination. The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance has issued guidelines to employers to protect Asian Americans and those of Asian descent from being discriminated against in the workplace.

These recommendations include:

  • Raising awareness of COVID-19 without causing fear
  • Speaking out against hostile and aggressive behaviors
  • Intervening when flippant comments about the virus are made
  • Anticipating the refusal of services from an employee of Asian descent from customers and reassuring impacted workers that it has nothing to do with them
  • Continuing to address ongoing discrimination with employees

Now more than ever, we need to protect those workers of Asian descent from discriminatory and hateful actions.

If you have faced racial discrimination during COVID-19, remember that you have rights under  Title VII. You may think now is not the time to seek legal action for damages caused to you. But now more than ever, you need protection.


The employment lawyers of Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. have taken on virtually every large employer in Connecticut. If you have faced racial discrimination during COVID-19, you may be experiencing frustration, anger, and fear. You may find it difficult to stand up for yourself.  That is why we are here to help.

If you are facing racial discrimination in your Connecticut workplace, please contact Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti now for a confidential evaluation of your case.

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