How would you report racial discrimination?

Most companies recognize the importance of creating and maintaining a diverse workforce, and they ensure that all employees are treated with respect and dignity in the workplace. Unfortunately, this kind of environment does not exist everywhere. If you have been denied employment or promotion because of racial bias, you do have legal options.

The Law

It is against federal and state to law to discriminate against a person because of their race, ethnicity, or national origin. Every aspect of employment is covered under these statutes, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, and other matters.

As with all problems, you should try to deal with racial discrimination at the lowest possible level. A simple misunderstanding can usually be dealt with between you and the person who has caused offense. If the behavior continues or intensifies, then you should inform your superior. If the person engaged in the discrimination is your superior, then you may want to submit a complaint to an independent body within your organization.

The Psychological Effects of Racism

Racism is a hard and terribly difficult thing to deal with. One of the first things you will need to overcome is the sense of humiliation that may feel. This does not stem from having done something wrong, but rather for having to deal with the issue in the first place. You want to get on with your job and receive be fairly rewarded for it—just like everyone else. To be confronted with someone who denies you advancement, employment, or fair treatment based solely on your race, religion, or ethnicity is a deeply offensive and humiliating thing to acknowledge and deal with. However, if you do not fight against it, everything you worked for may be lost. The employment lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers are well experienced in this field

Indeed, many victims of racist discrimination seek alternative explanations for the inappropriate behavior of colleagues. Contrary to conventional wisdom, few racial minorities see racial bias behind every awkward comment or misstep. They would rather not have to deal with the issue at all. But if you have been treated in a way that makes it impossible to function in the workplace, then you must act.

How Racism Works in Modern Organizations

Racism in the 21st century works in varied and subtle ways. Times have changed, and with them certain habits of language and etiquette. Not even the most hardened racist would call a colleague a racial slur to their face in the office. Nor would they have the temerity to openly berate a person or group of people because of their race. Racism instead works in organizations in the following ways:

1. Direct discrimination

It is possible for you to be denied employment or advancement opportunities because of racial discrimination. If you applied for a job, for example, and were told that “you wouldn’t fit in here” or other words that suggest your racial background was considered in the hiring decision, then you may have a case. Racist employment decisions are often couched in race-neutral terms. To build a case against a company, you must demonstrate a pattern. This can often be done if qualifications, experience, and other variables are held constant and hiring decisions go against persons of color.

2. Indirect discrimination

Indirect discrimination occurs when an organizational rule or policy works systematically against persons from certain racial or ethnic groups. Some of the more recent examples of indirect discrimination involve people of the Muslim faith.

Friday is the Muslim sabbath. Many devout Muslims work out reasonable arrangements with their employers to organize meetings, tasks, and other responsibilities around their religious obligations. However, if the employer purposely sets tasks on that day to put people of that faith at a disadvantage, then it can be grounds for a discrimination suit. If you are in such a situation, you would have to prove that such practices have been put in place to handicap people of your faith.

3. Racial harassment

Racial insults and slurs need not be hurled at you to feel degraded and intimidated in the workplace. Racial harassment includes any conduct related to race that violates your sense of dignity and creates a hostile work environment. Derogatory comments about your hair, your accent, or any other attribute of your appearance or ethnic background constitutes racial harassment.

4. Racial discrimination by association

It may sound odd, but it is possible to be discriminated against even if you are white in a majority white workplace. If you are being denied advancement opportunities because your partner or spouse is a racial minority, then you have grounds to file suit against your employer.

This form of misconduct works in extremely subtle ways. Getting ahead in the corporate world depends a great deal on associating with your superiors in informal settings. If, for example, the people who have the power to promote you refuse to invite you to dinners and other outings because your partner is black, Latino, Asian, etc., then you may be put at a disadvantage. You can challenge this practice as discriminatory.

5. Retaliation

If you have made a complaint about racial discrimination or harassment and been denied job opportunities as your claim is adjudicated, then your employer is breaking the law. Employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who complain about mistreatment in the workplace.

How to File a Complaint

If you have been racially discriminated against and have exhausted the organizational reporting system, then you can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC is an office within the United States Department of Justice. The department exists to enforce Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination, including harassment and intimidation, based on race. You can call the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 or 1-800-669-6820.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Although it is possible to file a racial discrimination complaint on your own, you should not do so. Before you take any formal action against your employer, you should hire a racial discrimination lawyer. The company will likely deny the veracity of your complaint and do everything in its power to discredit it. You need someone who is willing to listen to what you have been through and to be a tough, dedicated, and skilled advocate on your behalf.

The racial discrimination lawyer you hire will have deep insight into racial discrimination law. During the initial consultation, they will ask you to recall the incidents that have led you to believe you have been unfairly treated because of your race. Your lawyer will use these statements as the basis for formulating a legal strategy.

What Your Lawyer Will Do

Racial discrimination law is unambiguous. The challenge will be to gather facts that prove your employer tolerated or encouraged racism in the workplace. West Coast employment lawyers possess the experience and expertise to do this well.

One of the first things that your racial discrimination attorney will do is launch an investigation into the company using their own professional investigators. Statements from current and former employees, emails that suggest racial bias, words and actions caught on cell phone camera that show racial intimidation and harassment—these are just some of the many tools your racial discrimination attorney can use against your employer.

In the end, it may be unnecessary to file a complaint with the EEOC. West Coast employment lawyers are trained to negotiate settlements and to engage in conflict resolutions processes that get you the justice you deserve.