Workplace Racial Discrimination

Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

Racial discrimination exists in the workplace when an employer, coworker, or supervisor discriminates against an employee because of the color of their skin, their background, or anything else related to one’s racial identity. Racial discrimination in the workplace is strictly prohibited by several federal and states laws. The federal laws that address workplace discrimination based on race fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws prohibit employers from refusing to hire someone because of their race, firing an employee based on their race, paying an employee less because of their race, and failing to provide benefits, opportunities, or promotions to an employee because of their race.

Unfortunately, racial discrimination can often be subtle and difficult to detect. For example, an employer’s decision not to hire or promote someone based on their race is obviously racial discrimination, but unless the employer directly admits to this, then it is very difficult to prove their discriminatory intent.

According to Cary Kane, LLP, racial discrimination occurs in two different forms: intentional and disparate impact. Intentional impact refers to when an employer is deliberately discriminating against an employee because of their race. Incidents of racially-charged jokes or derogatory name calling often make for good evidence of racial discrimination. Another example of intentional impact would be an employer asking a potential employee about their race in an interview setting. Disparate impact of racial discrimination exists when a company or employer has a policy, practice or rule that appears to be neutral, but in actuality has the effect of discriminating against members of a particular race.

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