While there are federal and state laws that prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace, it continues to be a problem in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. People continue to be denied jobs, promotions, and other workplace benefits based on their races. Racial discrimination has been prohibited under federal law since the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it is still an ongoing issue. If you have been the victim of discrimination based on your race, the attorneys at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand your rights and the legal remedies that might be available to you. Here is what you need to know about proving racial discrimination.
Racial discrimination in the workplace involves treating employees of a particular race worse than members of a different race. It might include making workers of a certain race work in specific types of jobs, making job decisions based on stereotypical beliefs about race, treating workers differently because of their association with members of a certain race, or making distinctions at work based on the color of an employee’s skin. Some examples include the following:
- A retail store employs white workers in sales positions while hiring Latino workers only for restocking jobs.
- A trucking company refuses to hire Asian people to work as truck drivers because the hiring manager thinks that Asians can’t drive trucks.
- An employee is denied a promotion because his or her spouse is from the Middle East.
- A restaurant has black workers with darker skin wash dishes and performs kitchen work while workers with lighter skin wait tables.
Facially neutral workplace policies may also be discriminatory if they have a disparate impact on members of a particular race. Similarly, harassment because of the race of an employee is likewise illegal.
Prohibited racial discrimination at work
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act applies to nearly all aspects of employment, including the following:
- Recruiting workers
- Advertising positions
- Hiring decisions
- Training opportunities
- Salary and benefits
- Layoffs and terminations
People who are discriminated against based on their race at any stage of the employment relationship may have grounds to file discrimination claims to seek legal remedies.
There are several types of racial discrimination causes of action, including the following:
- Discriminatory treatment based on race
- Retaliation for filing a race discrimination complaint
- Disparate impact claims
Claims based on racially discriminatory treatment include situations in which an employer engages in intentional discrimination based on race. Even if you believe that your employer has engaged in race discrimination, you will have to present evidence that the adverse job action was based on race. The evidence can either be direct or by comparison. For example, direct evidence might include your employer making negative comments about your race to you or others. Comparative evidence might include evidence showing that your employer punished you more harshly than other workers for engaging in the same types of activities at work.
It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for filing a discrimination complaint. Even if the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finds that your original race discrimination charge is not substantiated, you might still be able to prevail in a retaliation claim if your employer fired or demoted you for filing the charge.
Disparate impact claims are discrimination charges that involve policies that have a disparate impact on members of a race as compared to members of a different race. For example, aptitude tests that have a disparate impact on members of certain races are illegal when the tests are not reasonably related to the requirements of the job.
Establishing a prima facie case of race discrimination
Proving a race discrimination claim begins by proving a prima facie case that discrimination occurred. The employee who is claiming discrimination must prove that he or she is a member of one of the protected classes under Title VII. He or she must also show that he or she is qualified for the position, and the employer must have engaged in an adverse employment action against the worker or applicant. Finally, the employee will need to show that there is a reasonable inference that the employer engaged in adverse actions based on racially discriminatory practices or beliefs.
Once an employee establishes a prima facie case, the employer will then be allowed to present evidence to disprove that discrimination occurred. In most cases, the employer will argue that the adverse job action was based on something other than discrimination.
Get help from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler
While racial discrimination has been illegal for decades, it continues to be a problem. If you believe that your employer has engaged in illegal discrimination against you based on your race, you should talk to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 856.685.7420.