When an individual is treated unfairly in his or her workplace on the basis of an unchangeable characteristic like his or her sex, age, race, or disability, he or she is a victim of workplace discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on these and other characteristics. Violation of these laws is an act of discrimination that can cause the victim to face steep financial damages.
How is Race Discrimination Different from Other Forms of Discrimination?
Race is one of the protected classes named in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Race can be tied with an employee’s actual or perceived ethnicity, religion, or national origin, which can compound the discrimination issues he or she faces in the workplace. The term “race” refers strictly to an individual’s physical characteristics that denote him or her as having ancestors from a specific area of the world. When an individual faces race discrimination in the workplace, he or she faces discrimination based on these characteristics and the assumptions others make about him or her based on them.
Examples of Race Discrimination in the Workplace
Race discrimination can take many forms. Examples of race discrimination in the workplace include:
- Rude, embarrassing, pervasive comments about an employee based on his or her race. These can be about his or her appearance, perceived abilities, or assumed preferences;
- Failing to hire or promote individuals of a certain race or only hiring and promoting individuals of one race;
- Segregating employees based on race; and
- Treating individuals of certain races unfairly in the workplace, such as writing up certain employees for offenses that only warrant a warning when others commit them. Other examples include giving certain employees negative performance reviews based on their race and giving employees of different races different responsibilities despite them being in the same position.
- A workplace environment where workers of certain races, or who are immigrants, are repeatedly exposed to offensive jokes, threats, or racial epithets solely because of their race or national origin, and no corrective action is taken by management.
Your Rights as a Victim of Race Discrimination
You have the right to perform your job in a workplace free of discrimination and hostility. You also have the right to speak up about the discrimination you face by filing a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you feel you have faced race discrimination in your workplace, take note of every instance you faced and compile them in a folder. Discuss your case with an experienced employment lawyer to determine if a discrimination claim with the EEOC is the best course of action for you. If you suffered financial damages as a result of the discrimination, you can potentially recover compensation for these damages through a settlement with your employer or a court ruling.
Work with a Premier New Jersey Employment Law Firm
Sattiraju Law Firm, P.C. is one of New York and New Jersey’s premier employment law firms. Our team of employment lawyers has experience representing workers in a variety of case types, including discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour claims, and misclassification cases. Our team successfully tried a $22.6 million hostile work environment claim, the largest employment law verdict in New Jersey’s history. Contact our firm today to set up your free consultation with us.
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Common Questions about Race Discrimination in New Jersey
Is it race discrimination if I got fired because I am Hispanic?
Yes. Technically, Hispanic is an ethnicity, not a race. However, the federal government has long prohibited discrimination against Hispanics. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has historically treated discrimination against Hispanics as a type of discrimination based on national origin, which is also a protected class. So someone who is Hispanic is protected against discrimination.
Recently, however, courts have begun to find that Hispanic is a race for purposes of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is the main antidiscrimination law. In the case of Village of Freeport v. Barrella, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found that Hispanic is a race. Regardless, Hispanics have long enjoyed protection against workplace discrimination, so you should meet with an attorney.
Is it racial harassment if coworkers constantly say negative things about white people?
It could be. Anti-discrimination law protects against harassment based on race. Some people wrongly assume that white people can’t be discriminated against or harassed. The law says the opposite. So if you find that offensive comments, jokes, slurs, insults, and racially-based imagery is oppressive, then you could have a valid claim for harassment.
We should also point out that the person harassing you does not need to be a different race. You could still have a claim even if a white employee is saying these negative things.