What Remedies are Available for Workplace Racial Bias?

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Racial bias in the workplace is banned by the federal Civil Rights Act and by several states’ laws.  Despite this, many people experience racial discrimination in the course of their employment.  If you are the victim of racial bias, what remedies are available to you?

The goal of the Civil Right’s Act is to end racial bias while at the same time to put you in the same position that you would be in if the discrimination had never occurred.  Therefore, the remedy available depends on the discriminatory action and the effects it had on you. 

For example, if you were fired from your job because of racial bias, you may be re-hired with back pay.  Alternatively, you may be awarded the pay and benefits you would have received had you kept the job.  At the same time, the employer is required to change its practice so that future discrimination does not occur.

The law identifies two main types of damages available to victims of racial bias: compensatory damages, and punitive damages.  Compensatory damages are designed to reimburse victims for their expenses caused by racial discrimination, such as lost wages and job-search costs.  They also compensate victims for emotional harm suffered.

Punitive damages, on the other hand, are designed to punish the employer.  These are damages that employer is required to pay to the victim as a penalty for purposely or recklessly breaking anti-discrimination laws.

If you have been the victim of racial bias, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer.  An experienced employment attorney will be able to properly assess your claim, and give you a good idea of what damages you are eligible for.

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Last Modified: 06-25-2009 11:51 AM PDT

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