In an ideal world, our society has evolved past the point where racial discrimination is still a problem in the workplace. The reality is that illegal discrimination based on a person’s race continues to exist. The effects of racial discrimination on an employee’s work experience can often be traumatic, as well.
Consider the example of Marcus Boyd, who for 14 months was the victim of threats, racist comments, and hateful slights while employed at a General Motors plant in the state of Ohio. Boyd, who is African-American, was part of a work environment where black supervisors were routinely referred to as “boy”. Some white employees wore clothing with Nazi symbols hidden underneath their uniforms. What is most shocking about Marcus Boyd’s experience is that it took place in 2018.
These allegations were outlined in a lawsuit filed against GM. At least eight workers came forward and alleged that managers were aware of the illegal behaviors, yet did little or nothing to stop it. For Boyd, the hostility began on his first day and only escalated in severity. Boyd, an experienced supervisor, received no training, unlike the other predominantly white supervisors who did receive the necessary support and training.
Marcus Boyd, as often occurs when workers suffer overt racial discrimination in the workplace, tried to ignore it. He convinced himself that he was overreacting and proceeded to do his job. He was ultimately ridiculed by his employees and was eventually referred to by the N-word. At this point, Boyd reported the abuse but was told to handle the situation himself.
Not all examples of racial discrimination are as overt as Marcus Boyd’s. In fact, racial discrimination can be challenging to identify. And many employees are unaware that they were victims of racially motivated discrimination in the workplace in the first place. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 exists to protect every individual from discrimination based on their race, color, national origin, sex, and religion.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act offers additional protections against racial discrimination for California residents at the state level. In other words, there are remedies if you have been the victim of racial discrimination in the workplace.
Unlawful discrimination based on a person’s race includes instances of an employer denying opportunities to an employee based on their:
This also includes denying opportunities to an employee based on their marriage to, or association with, a person of a particular race.
An employer is guilty of racial discrimination anytime it makes job decisions based on race, or anytime it follows neutral job policies that negatively affect members of a particular race. Federal law and California law explicitly forbid racial discrimination in every aspect of employment. This includes hiring, firing, compensation, promotions, on the job training, and discipline.
A business can be held liable for racial discrimination if:
Pleading ignorance regarding racial discrimination is likely to be an insufficient defense, and implementing an employment handbook with anti-discrimination policies is not enough to protect employers from liability. An employer who does not regularly update their employment handbook to reflect the newest changes in the law is likely to be unprepared in the event of a discrimination claim. Victims in discrimination cases routinely allege that they raised the issue to Human Resources, followed the employee handbook, and were still not protected from harassment.
A business may be liable for racial discrimination if management is actively participating in the racially offensive conduct, which creates a hostile work environment for employees and sets a poor example for other employees to engage in the same behavior. Further, anytime management engages in open racial discrimination, it reinforces the company’s disregard for anti-discrimination laws. Worst, normalizing racial discrimination in the workplace discourages legitimately aggrieved employees from making valid complaints.
Common signs of racism in the workplace:
If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The racial discrimination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling racial discrimination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a racial discrimination attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.
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