Labor and Employment

Race or Color Discrimination

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The phrase "race discrimination" brings to mind an employer who is one color and an employee who is another color. This is often the case, but racial discrimination is broader than that. It can involve two people of the same race, or it may not have anything to do with the race of the employee at all. Racial discrimination exists any time an employer singles someone out and treats that employee differently based on skin color and physical characteristics associated with race.

Race Discrimination Is Against the Law

Both federal and state laws protect workers from race discrimination. It's illegal to base hiring on an applicant's skin tone. Employers can't deny promotions to existing employees because of race, and they can't fire employees because of race-related issues.

Discrimination Can Involve More Than the Employee

Race or color discrimination can also occur when an employee is penalized for a personal association with a certain race. An African-American employer might be unhappy when his African-American employee marries a Caucasian and might deny job advancement because of it. This is also race discrimination.

Employers Are Responsible for Their Workplaces

Workplace discrimination can extend beyond hiring, firing, or limiting wages and opportunities for advancement. It also occurs when other employees or even the employer ridicule or make fun of an employee because of that employee's race or treat the employee with obvious anger or hostility.This is harassment, and workplace harassment is against the law. Employers are legally responsible for the behavior of their other workers in this situation.

Federal Employers Have Additional Rules

Employers who are federal contractors or subcontractors also have an obligation to make an attempt to recruit and hire minority employees. This is "affirmative action." It would not necessarily affect an African-American employer who did not attempt to hire Caucasians because Caucasian individuals are not minorities. However, the employer would be subject to other racial discrimination laws.A Caucasian contractor who refuses to hire workers of any other race breaks both affirmative action laws and race discrimination laws.

You Can Recover Damages

If you feel you're a victim of race or color discrimination, speak with a lawyer. You can sue your employer or anyone who denies you employment based solely on this protected characteristic, although Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules may apply.If you win your lawsuit, you might be able to collect not only for lost wages but punitive damages as well. "Punitive" means that your employer must pay you money for discriminating against you. Your employer might also have to pay your legal costs and attorney's fees.

An Employment Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding workplace discrimination based on race or color is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an employment lawyer.

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