Know Your Rights: Teasing and ugly comments aren’t illegal –
know how to discern that from discriminatory actions
Race discrimination is defined as treating individuals in the workplace differently because of their race, color, or ethnic origin. If you have been rejected for employment, fired from employment, or otherwise harmed in your employment because of your race or the color of your skin, then you may be suffering from illegal race discrimination.
What is illegal race discrimination?
Let’s say you apply for a job for which you have experience and great qualifications, but you’re not hired because some of the company’s customers aren’t comfortable dealing with people of color. OK, that’s an easy one, right?
What if you’re fired and told that it’s because the company is laying people off due to cutbacks or a “reorganization,” yet white employees with the same job and with less seniority than you get to keep their jobs, so your company’s lying about the reason, and you feel the decision to fire you was actually motivated by racial hostility, not objective criteria, so your argument is that “cutbacks” was just a pretext—the phony reason your employer gave for firing you—when the real reason you were fired was due to your race.
You have now worked for your company for several years, getting great reviews and bonuses, yet each of the three times you’ve applied for promotions, less qualified non-minority employees always get the job instead of you, or instead of other people of color.
One of your coworkers thinks that it’s amusing to use racial slurs and epithets and to tell jokes insulting blacks, Latinos, Asians, and other ethnic minorities, and these comments make you uncomfortable, whether you’re a “minority” yourself or not. You’ve asked him to stop, but he tells you to get a sense of humor, and while your manager keeps telling you to ignore him, the racist co-worker isn’t disciplined or otherwise asked to stop his hateful, hostile, and harassing speech and conduct.
All of the above examples are illustrations of race discrimination in the workplace. Are you being discriminated against because of your race, or is your employer just treating you badly for any number of non-race-based reasons? That’s the first question for you to answer. Am I experiencing this hostility in the workplace because I’m a person of color, or could it just be that my boss is a just a big jerk and he doesn’t like me for reasons other than my skin color? If you conclude that yes, you’re being treated differently because of your race and/or color, than you’re experiencing illegal workplace race discrimination.
Call us to learn about your rights and how we can help.