Spotting Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

Nov 3 2017

Race relations remain a consistent discussion topic in our country. Certain types of discrimination, and where it happens, are not tolerated and against the law.

Racial discrimination is one of the most commonplace workplace complaints. According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), there were 32, 309 complaints filed in 2016, overshadowing any other reported discrimination claim.

But what exactly is considered racial discrimination? This type of discrimination can rear its ugly head in many ways; some which are obvious, while some are more difficult to spot.

What is Racial Discrimination?

Discriminating against one’s race in the workplace is described as the practice of treating individuals differently and adversely because of their race or color. Federal law prohibits this type of unfair treatment from happening, but it’s hard to identify. You might not even know it’s happening to you.

There are generally three kinds of racial discrimination occurring in offices around the world:

  • Direct racial discrimination
  • Indirect racial discrimination
  • Racial Harassment or hostile work environment

Direct racial discrimination might be the easiest to recognize, because an employer or co-worker will not try to hide their discriminatory ways. They believe the person who they are discriminating against will not act against them in any way. Examples of this could include racial jokes, remarks and other unfavorable comments.

Indirect racial discrimination involves an employer or co-worker who is discriminating against another, but who is actively trying to conceal it. Examples could be an employer leaving a person or a group of people out of a company activity, preventing further employment growth, or rejection from money-making opportunities (such as a bonus).

Racial harassment or a hostile work environment is the most obvious type of discrimination, regardless of how easy or hard it is to recognize. If an employee or co-worker is harassing another because of race, it is illegal. This kind of harassment occurs when a person or group repeatedly uses remarks, behaviors or practices to show racial intolerance against a co-worker based on their color, descent, culture, language or religion.

Reporting It

Discriminating against or harassing due to race, in the workplace, is illegal, and the behavior should not be allowed to continue. There are steps to take to ensure this doesn’t happen at your workplace. They include:

  • Documenting the incident(s) – include names involved and detail what exactly happened.
  • Talking to your supervisor – show the collected documentation.
  • Make a formal complaint to the EEOC which will allow you to file a lawsuit if legal action is necessary. The time for filing a complaint may be as short as 180 days from the last discriminatory act.

Contact Us

If you are being discriminated against, know your rights and options. Contact the Connecticut employment lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C., today for an evaluation of your situation.

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