Racial Bias in the Workplace

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 What is Racial Bias?

Despite being illegal, racial bias, also known as racial discrimination, is still prevalent in the United States and throughout the workforce nationwide. Legally, it is against the law to discriminate against a person because of their race. The law forbids discrimination in the workplace when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, salary, job assignments, promotions, training, benefits, or any other term of employment.

Whether it is an employer who refuses to hire someone because of their race, or if a group of individuals is not being promoted within their company because of race, discrimination of this type is illegal.

Racial discrimination may involve treating someone differently because of their race or personal characteristics associated with race, such as hair texture, skin color, or facial features. Racial discrimination may also involve treating someone unfavorably because a person is married to or associates with a person of a certain race or color. Discrimination can even occur when the victim of the discrimination and the person who inflicted the discrimination are of the same race or color.

What are the Signs of Racial Bias in the Workplace?

A workplace should be completely free from racial discrimination. Read this list to familiarize yourself with some of the commonly-experienced signs of workplace discrimination. If any of these types of discrimination happened to you in the workplace, consider speaking to an experienced employment attorney today to review the scenarios involved in your case. An employment lawyer can help keep your best interests in line at your place of employment.

  • Stereotyping. Racial bias may present itself through misconceptions, incorrect perceptions, incomplete information, or false generalizations based upon race. These stereotypes characterize every member of a group with certain attributes while ignoring how each person performs or behaves on an individual basis.
    • Stereotyping may also occur through language. Are divisive terms like “us” and “they” used in the workplace? Are negative attributes being used to describe one particular race or ethnicity? Are racially insulting jokes being used? Are comments being made about a culture or specific group of people? If so, your workplace may be one where negative stereotypes are being used.
  • Implicit Bias. Implicit bias can affect every part of a company, from business decisions to workplace culture. Subconscious biases may result in discriminatory tendencies. These tendencies may be difficult to identify and remedy. Implicit bias may be seen in the way a company handles areas such as hiring, promotions, work culture, socialization events, charitable donations, and associations with other businesses.
  • Being Overlooked for Promotions. In some cases, men and women in the workplace may be overlooked for promotions or salary raises due to their race, ethnicity, or gender. If a candidate has better qualifications and more work experience but was passed over for a promotion given to someone with less education or experience, a discriminatory hiring practice may have been made.

What Laws Protect Me from Racial Bias?

If you have been the victim of racial discrimination by your employer, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation. Consider consulting an employment attorney to best ensure your rights are being protected.

First, consider filing a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you intend to file a civil lawsuit, you must first file a claim with the EEOC. The EEOC will review your claim and provide further instruction.

If you decide to move forward with your claim, the EEOC may sanction your employer in order to prevent further discrimination. The EEOC may attempt to mediate a solution between you and your employer. Once the EEOC’s investigation concludes, they will provide you with a Notice of Right to Sue. Then, you may file a civil lawsuit.

What are the Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws?

The primary federal laws that address racial discrimination in the workplace are in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These laws prohibit employers from:

  • Firing an employee because of their race
  • Refusing to hire an employee because of their race
  • Paying an employee less or providing them with fewer benefits because of their race
  • Withholding benefits, promotions, or other opportunities for advancement based on race
  • Segregating employees or applicants by race

What are the State Anti-Discrimination Laws?

State legislation regarding workplace discrimination is broad, but it generally mirrors federal law and prohibits discrimination based on race. The most common differences between state and federal anti-discrimination laws are in the procedures used and the agencies contacted to make a claim of discrimination.

When Can I File a Racial Discrimination Suit Against My Employer?

As previously mentioned, only after you file a claim with the EEOC may you file a civil lawsuit against your employer. Once you receive a Notice of Right to Sue, you must file your lawsuit within 90 days of receipt of the Notice.

How Can I File a Claim for Racial Bias?

When filing a claim for racial bias, first, you must contact an EEOC office in your jurisdiction. You will have to file a claim with the EEOC before moving forward with a lawsuit. The EEOC will investigate and attempt to remedy the situation. After the investigation is closed, you will be issued a Notice of Right to Sue. Once the EEOC has issued you a Notice of Right to Sue, consider contacting an employment attorney to assist you in moving forward with the legal process.

How Much Can I Recover in a Racial Bias Lawsuit?

The amount you can recover in a racial bias lawsuit depends on a few factors. There are compensatory and punitive damage caps on how much an employer can pay out, depending on how many employees are employed at the establishment.

If an employee was discriminated against because of race, and there was another issue involved, then this would be a “mixed-motive” case. Monetary caps exist in these situations with relation to the amount of damages that may be recovered.

For instance, if an individual was fired in part for her race, but also because of something that was irrelevant to racial discrimination, such as consistently being late for work, missing meetings, consistently missing deadlines, or poor work performance, this “mixed-motive” termination will likely have a limit on damages.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Racial Bias Claim?

If you have been discriminated against because of your race, then you should notify the Human Resources Department at your workplace and file a claim with the EEOC. If the EEOC or your employer’s Human Resources Department refuses or is unable to resolve the issue, then your next step should be to contact a local discrimination lawyer.

Your lawyer will advise you of your rights and provide guidance on how to move forward with your case. Additionally, an attorney will be able to represent your best interests in court, should you decide to file a lawsuit.

Our database of employment and discrimination lawyers is broad and comprehensive. If you’re interested in hiring an excellent attorney in your area, use the link here. LegalMatch’s services can help you narrow down your search for a lawyer by choosing the issues involved in your case.


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