Employment Discrimination Help

Race Discrimination at Work

Discrimination on the racial basis is still unfortunately, pretty common and widespread. It can be expressed in the form of hostile environment and harassment (racial jokes, ridicule, use of offensive nicknames or slang); in the form of disparate treatment (for example when Caucasian employees are being promoted and African Americans are not); or there can be a discriminatory effect of “uniform” policies imposed by employers… Race discrimination also covers harassment based on certain features associated with race: shape of eyes, type of hair, or facial features.

Whatever the situation is, an employee should not be accepting it as the law protects employees from this type of discrimination.

An employee has to remember that the first step, usually, would be to let the supervisor or a person in charge know that he/she does not welcome the negative treatment and ask the employer to stop the and amend the practice. Sometimes, especially, with a smaller employers, it is not practical or possible to do. In this case, an employer would have to submit a charge with the Equal employment opportunity commission ( EEOC) or New York State Division of Human Rights (NYSDHR). A complaint to these entities is an important administrative step that will allow an employee to bring his Federal claims to court in the future.

A typical case of the racial discrimination would include a person of a racial minority complaining about the racial majority. However, there are cases of reverse discrimination, when a person of what typically would be recognized as a majority, complaints of his/her rights violation by what typically is recognized as a minority.

Another important note here is that there are deadlines an employee has to be within in order for the complaints to be actionable. For example: for Federal causes of action, an employee has to go to EEOC or NYSDHR within 300 days of the adverse act. For the State and City causes of action -- -it is three years.

Note every employer can be caused be liable in court. An employer has to have at least 4 employees for the state and the City level and at least 15 employees to be liable on the federal level.

Can a person of the same race be the harasser?

Yes, of course.

How would I know where to complain at work?

An employer has an obligation to place notices required by law to inform the employees where they need to bring their complaints and concerns regarding discrimination. These notices have to be placed at the places were all employees can observe them: cafeteria, lockers rooms, etc. Unfortunately, often these notices are missing or phrased to include only sexual harassment. In this case, the best practice would be to send a written complaint to the main office.

What if the employer in response to complain asks to take it back and write that “all is O’K”?

Very often, an employer would ask an employee to take back the filed complaint. If the employee is not satisfied with the resolution, he/she should not be doing it. It might take some time and effort, but eventually, the justice will prevail. By taking the complaint back, however, an employee may deprive himself/herself of a chance to remedy the situation.

What if the employer or supervisor threatens to fire me if I continue to complain?

In this case, an employer will be liable for retaliation in addition to discrimination, as it is illegal to retaliate against an employee even his/her complaints were not confirmed.