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Let’s Talk About Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

| September 30, 2021

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race. While everyone understands that discrimination is illegal, our society continues to struggle with this issue. And even though employees who are the victims of racial discrimination suffer the most, everyone suffers when racial discrimination in the workplace goes unchecked. If you are the victim of racial discrimination in the workplace, a Maryland employment lawyer can help you hold your employer accountable and secure a brighter future for you and your fellow employees. 

Discrimination is Illegal in Any Aspect of Your Employment

Overt discrimination may be rare these days, but more subtle forms of racial discrimination continue to persist. Discriminatory behavior by your employer is illegal regardless of where or when it occurs, including the following: 

  • Discrimination during the hiring process or termination. An obvious example would be when an employer refuses to hire members of a certain race or ethnicity even though they have equal or greater qualifications than the people who are hired. Similarly, it is also illegal to terminate someone for substandard performance when someone of a different race is allowed to keep their job even though their performance was the same or worse. 
  • Discriminatory testing. Employers can also engage in racial discrimination by subjecting only members of certain races to testing. For example, requiring only immigrant employees to take an English proficiency test could be considered discriminatory. Another example would be requiring employees of a certain race to take a drug test but not others. 
  • Pay, promotions, and benefits. Promoting someone, paying them more, or providing additional benefits while not providing the same to someone of a different race with the same qualifications or experience could be considered discrimination. 
  • Job assignments and opportunities. Failing to make all assignments or opportunities available to all employees can be discriminatory. For example, limiting someone’s contact with customers or clients on the basis of their race could be considered discriminatory. Similarly, denying someone opportunities to advance their career could also be discriminatory. For example, not inviting minority employees to a lunch with senior management could arguably deny them opportunities to build their reputation with their employer. 

If you believe that you have been the victim of racial discrimination at any stage in the employment process, a Maryland employment lawyer can review your case and determine whether you have a claim. 

Racial Discrimination Includes More Than You Might Think

Racial discrimination of course includes unfair treatment of a member of a racial minority. However, it also includes unfair treatment of someone who is associated with a racial minority, such as by way of marriage or some other relationship. 

Neutral workplace policies or procedures that have a disparate impact on minorities can also be considered discriminatory, even if the discrimination was unintentional. For example, certain policies with specific grooming standards could be considered discriminatory when applied to minorities. 

Racial discrimination also includes harassment, both direct and indirect. This can include the following: 

  • Offensive or derogatory racial comments
  • Using racial slurs or making racial jokes
  • Using racially offensive gestures, symbols, or images 

These actions can be verbal or in writing and can be directed at you or occur in your presence. If you have been the victim of racial discrimination, you should discuss your case with a Maryland employment lawyer as soon as possible. 

Factors the Courts Will Consider in Racial Discrimination Cases

The outcome in racial discrimination cases is determined on a case-by-case basis. In other words, whether or not you have a discrimination claim will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your case. While a Maryland employment lawyer will be able to determine whether you have a claim, it is helpful to understand at the outset how the courts will review your case. Here are some of the factors that the court will consider: 

  • Whether you have suffered any harm, including both financial losses and psychological harm.
  • Whether you are a member of a protected class – if you are a minority and race is an issue in your case, this is usually easy to prove. 
  • Whether there was a connection between your race and the alleged discriminatory behavior. 
  • Whether your skills, job performance, or other qualifications played a legitimate role in the alleged discriminatory behavior. 

These cases can be difficult to make, so it is important to thoroughly document your claim. Working with a Maryland employment lawyer from the outset can help you build the strongest claim possible. 

Contact Maryland Employment Lawyer J.W. Stafford

At the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, we believe that employers who engage in racial discrimination should be held accountable. To schedule a consultation to discuss your case and your rights, contact us today at 410-514-6099. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can help.