Workplace discrimination based on race remains an unfortunate reality that many employees face. Despite progress made over several decades, racial bias still manifests through adverse actions, hostile behaviors, and policies that prevent minorities from accessing equal opportunities.
The effects of racial discrimination can be devastating, both emotionally and economically. Fortunately, there are legal protections in place and steps you can take if you are experiencing discrimination at work. A California race discrimination lawyers at TONG LAW can evaluate your situation, advocate on your behalf, and help you take the appropriate actions to stop discriminatory treatment.
What is Race Discrimination?
Race discrimination involves treating employees or job applicants unfavorably because of their race, skin color, ethnic background, or national origin. This type of discrimination remains a persistent problem today, even decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and other laws banning discriminatory practices. Discrimination not only harms individuals but also prevents companies from fully utilizing talent.
A 2023 study revealed that 41% of Black workers, 25% of Asian workers, and 20% of Hispanic workers have experienced ethnic or racial discrimination by an employer in hiring, promotions, or wages at some point in their employment history. Comparatively, only 8% of White workers reported unfair treatment in these areas.
If you feel you are facing discrimination at work, consulting an experienced discrimination and harassment attorney focused on race discrimination law is critical. An experienced racial discrimination attorney can assess if you have a valid legal claim, determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and then guide you through the process of taking action to stop the discrimination. They will conduct an investigation, negotiate with the employer on your behalf, represent you in litigation if necessary, and connect you with counseling services. Upholding your rights requires knowledgeable legal advocacy.
Recognizing Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
Race discrimination manifests in the workplace in many forms, some overt and others more subtle. Understanding the variety of discriminatory practices is the first step in identifying if you have a potential case.
Being Denied Promotions, Transfers, or Training
One common form of discrimination is being denied promotions, transfers, job training, and other opportunities for advancement due to racial bias. Denying qualified minorities chances for upward mobility based on race clearly constitutes illegal discrimination. An employment law attorney can help determine if discrimination was a factor in you being passed over for advancement at work.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Another manifestation of discrimination is pervasive racially hostile behaviors that create an abusive and intimidating work environment. Examples include racial slurs and derogatory comments, offensive graffiti or images, intimidating gestures, or even physical aggression. The harassment can come from co-workers, managers, or customers that the employer fails to stop. Left unchecked, this behavior makes it impossible to perform your job. Your lawyer can assess if the harassment rises to the legal standard for a discrimination claim.
Discriminatory Policies and Practices
Discrimination also often hides within a company’s formal policies and informal practices. For example, grooming policies banning certain hairstyles predominantly worn by minorities constitute racial discrimination under California’s CROWN Act. Other policies around hiring, promotions, compensation, or termination may seem neutral but disproportionately impact people of color. Your racial discrimination lawyer can evaluate if any written or unwritten company policies enable illegal discrimination.
Finally, race discrimination often culminates in the unjust termination or discharge of minority employees. A skilled wrongful termination lawyer can determine if racial bias was the real reason behind you supposedly being let go for “poor performance” or other dubious justifications. Retaliation for complaining about discrimination also frequently leads to termination.
Effects of Race Discrimination
Experiencing discrimination at work inflicts substantial emotional and economic harm on employees. Racial bias often leaves minorities feeling demoralized, anxious, and depressed. Discrimination also results in lost wages, diminished career opportunities, and lack of advancement over the long term. For example, losing one promotion due to discrimination can snowball into over $500,000 in lost earnings over a career. The cumulative effects of discrimination also contribute to broader economic disparities by race.
Legal Protections Against Race Discrimination
Fortunately, legal protections exist under federal and California state law to guard against racial discrimination and provide remedies to victims. The centerpiece is Title VII of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race and other protected characteristics. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) likewise bans discrimination and strengthens protections in areas like grooming policies. These laws cover hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and all other aspects of employment. They protect both employees and job applicants.
Steps To Take If You Experience Discrimination at Work
If you suspect you are facing discrimination at work due to your race or ethnicity, prompt action and legal support can help you fight back against unlawful treatment. Key steps include:
Thoroughly document any incidents of harassment, denials of promotion, disciplinary actions, or other concerning events. Save copies of emails, texts, performance reviews, or other documents. Also, write down specifics about verbal conversations, harassing behaviors, and informal policies. Documentation creates critical evidence to prove your case.
Start by filing an internal discrimination complaint through your company’s Human Resources department or management chain of command. Your employer may claim they were unaware of any problems absent an internal report. Under California law, you must assert your complaint first with the employer before filing a formal claim.
File a Claim With the EEOC or a State Agency
If internal reporting does not resolve the situation, the next step is submitting a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This starts the official administrative process for handling discrimination claims. Your lawyer helps prepare your factual complaint and gather evidence to meet legal standards.
Consult a Racial Discrimination Attorney
Engaging an employment lawyer experienced in race discrimination cases provides invaluable support from the outset. A dedicated attorney guides you in documenting and reporting issues, connects you to mental health resources, interacts with your employer on your behalf, files claims, and provides counsel on your options if litigation becomes necessary. Working with an employment law firm protects your rights.
How a Race Discrimination Lawyer Can Help
Specifically, your dedicated race discrimination attorney provides assistance at every stage, including:
- Conducting a thorough investigation to gather necessary evidence – An experienced lawyer knows how to methodically build your case by gathering documents, interviewing witnesses, and identifying unlawful patterns and practices. This creates leverage in negotiations with the employer.
- Negotiating with your employer – Many claims can be resolved through skillful negotiations outside of court. Your attorney engages the employer to reach a settlement or severance agreement providing compensation and stopping unlawful practices. Over 90% of employment discrimination cases are settled out of court.
- Representing you in litigation if needed – If negotiations fail and going to court becomes unavoidable, your employment lawyer can continue representing you through the litigation process. This involves filing a lawsuit, conducting discovery, deposing witnesses, retaining experts, and advocating for you at trial.
- Connecting you to counseling and support services – Your lawyer can refer you to mental health professionals, community resources, and support groups to help you cope with emotional distress from discrimination. Seeking counseling also demonstrates the extent of harm for your case.
- Ensuring your rights are upheld from start to finish – With an attorney guiding you, you can proceed confidently through reporting discriminatory treatment, participating in investigations, cooperating with state agencies, negotiating a fair resolution, and taking legal action. Experienced counsel empowers you to stand up to unlawful practices.
With an experienced employment law attorney on your side, you can take a stand against unlawful discrimination confidently. At TONG LAW, we advocate for clients at every stage, conducting investigations, negotiating resolutions, litigating when necessary, and ensuring rights are upheld.
Fight Workplace Discrimination – Contact Our California Employment Lawyers Today
TONG LAW has successfully represented clients from all backgrounds who faced discrimination based on race, skin color, ethnicity, and national origin. Our track record includes recovering substantial sums in settlements, negotiating severance agreements, and winning workplace policy changes. We know California and federal anti-discrimination laws inside and out.
If you need legal help addressing race discrimination at work, contact us today to schedule a meeting and discuss your situation in complete confidence. The sooner you have a knowledgeable lawyer reviewing your case, the sooner we can start advocating for equal treatment for you.