Employers in the US are required to treat all their employees fairly and equally which is why so many people in this world want to live here. Unfortunately, some employers tend to discriminate against their employees based on immutable characteristics like race, ethnicity, and national origin. Data shows that one in four Black and Hispanic employees in the US say that they have been discriminated against at work due to their race or ethnicity.
Discriminating against an employee due to their race or national origin is not only immoral and unethical, but is also illegal under state as well as federal law. If you have been discriminated against by your employer on the basis of your race or national origin, you deserve justice. The award-winning New York racial discrimination lawyers at Levine & Blit can hold your employer accountable for their discriminatory behavior and help you get the compensatory benefits you deserve.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our New York racial discrimination lawyers today to know more about your rights at the workplace and the legal options available for you.
Understanding Racial Discrimination in Workplaces
Race discrimination involves treating a particular employee or a group of employees unfavorably due to their race or ethnicity or due to race-related characteristics. Workplace race discrimination can be broadly classified into two types – direct discrimination and indirect discrimination.
- Direct race discrimination can be blatant and in-your-face. For example, if an employer refuses to hire you for a particular position due to your race or ethnicity, it can be considered direct discrimination.
- Indirect race discrimination, on the other hand, can be subtle and difficult to recognize. If an employer institutes a policy for all employees at the workplace, but if it affects employees belonging to a particular race or ethnicity disproportionately, it can be considered indirect discrimination.
For example, if an employer institutes a strict policy against hairstyles like braids, twists, and cornrows, it can be considered a form of indirect discrimination, even though the policy might be applicable to all employees. This is because the aforementioned hairstyles are more common in the black community compared to other communities, as a result of which they get affected the most when such policies are adopted.
Common examples of race-based discrimination include:
- Making racist jokes
- Making inappropriate or offensive comments about a person’s race or a particular racial group
- Stereotyping a particular race or ethnicity by attributing negative characteristics to them
- Making fun of or making insensitive comments about the personal characteristics of people belonging to certain racial or ethnic groups
- Not hiring people from certain racial groups even if they are qualified
- Denying promotions, bonuses, pay raises, incentives, and other benefits to employees belonging to a particular racial or ethnic group
- Being overly critical of employees belonging to a particular racial or ethnic group and punishing them disproportionately for minor infractions that other employees might get away with
- Using racial or ethnic slurs at the workplace
- Making hostile comments or threats based on race or ethnicity
- Retaliating against someone who files a charge of race discrimination
Understanding National Origin Discrimination in Workplaces
National origin discrimination involves discriminating against someone or treating them unfairly and unfavorably due to their country of origin or ancestry. Common examples of national origin discrimination include:
- Not hiring someone due to their country of origin or ancestry
- Denying pay raises, incentives, bonuses, promotions, and other benefits
- Denying apprenticeship, training, and certification opportunities
- Harassing someone due to their country of origin or ancestry
- Discriminating against someone due to the physical, cultural, and linguistic characteristics associated with their country of origin, ancestry, or ethnic group
- Attributing negative characteristics to people based on their ethnic or national origins
- Making employment related decisions based on someone’s country of origin or ancestry
- Making inappropriate or offensive remarks about people from a particular country, ancestry, or ethnic group
- Treating someone unfairly or unfavorably because they are married to someone of a particular nation of origin, ancestry, or ethnicity
- Retaliating against someone for filing a charge of national origin discrimination
How Race and National Origin Discrimination Can Affect People
The constant stress and anxiety caused by racial harassment and discrimination can affect people’s ability to work, productivity, output, and their willingness to collaborate with others at work. As a result, they might perform worse than other employees, which in turn can make their problems worse.
Studies also show that race and national origin based discrimination can lead to a wide range of physical and mental health problems. These include:
- Poor sleep
- Eating disorders
- Increased risk of obesity
- Elevated blood pressure and increase in inflammation, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease
- Low self esteem
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Negative outlook about life
What Are the Legal Protections Available against Race Discrimination and National Origin Discrimination in Workplaces?
Federal civil rights laws prohibit discrimination based on race and national origin in workplaces and other institutions.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants based on race or national origin.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides compensatory damages to individuals who have been wronged due to race and national origin based employment discrimination.
- Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits race and national origin based discrimination in programs that receive federal financial assistance.
- Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 prohibits race and national origin based discrimination in programs that receive federal financial assistance.
While private schools are not covered under the Civil Rights Act to the same extent as public schools, any educational institution that receives funding or grants from the federal government is required to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and is prohibited from discriminating against anyone based on their race.
How to Tackle Race and National Origin Discrimination in Workplaces
For employers, the process of tackling workplace racial and national origin discrimination starts with acknowledging the problem in the first place. Employers need to understand that there is much to be done to address the issues that racial and ethnic minorities face in workplaces and take steps to address their concerns and grievances.
Key steps employers can take to combat racial and national origin discrimination in workplaces include:
- Building a diverse workforce by giving employment opportunities to racial and ethnic minorities
- Instituting a strong anti-discrimination policy in the workplace
- Educating employees on intentional discrimination, unintentional discrimination, unconscious bias, micro-aggression, and cultural differences to make sure they can be respectful to each other and work well as a unit
- Developing comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training programs for employees at all levels
- Tracking the results of DEI training programs to know what works and what does not
- Adopting a robust anti-discrimination complaint mechanism to address and resolve race and national-origin-based discrimination from employees in an effective manner
Legal Options Available for Employees Who Face Racial and National Origin Discrimination at Work
If you are discriminated against or harassed at work due to your race or national origin, you can file a complaint with the HR department – or any other person who is designated to handle such complaints in your organization. If the issue is not resolved, you should contact an experienced New York discrimination lawyer right away.
Your lawyer can determine whether you have a legitimate claim of discrimination against your employer and help you file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If the agency dismisses your claim or if they fail to resolve your problem, you can file a claim against your employer with the help of your New York employment discrimination lawyer. This is someone who’s been around the legal corners before and knows where particular dangers could be lurking.
Remedies and Compensatory Damages Available for Victims of Racial and National Origin Discrimination
If you were unfairly terminated from your position on the basis of your race or national origin, your New York discrimination attorney can help you get reinstated into your old position. Other damages you can recover include:
- Back pay
- Pay raises
- Vacation pay
- Health insurance
- Stock options
- Attorney’s fees and court expenses
In addition to this, you might also be able to recover compensation for intangible damages like mental anguish and emotional harm. In some cases, depending on the extent to which you were discriminated against or harassed, you might be able to recover punitive damages (also referred to as liquidated damages) from your employer.
These damages are awarded not to compensate you, but to penalize your employer for their discriminatory behavior. Depending on the circumstances, the liquidated damages you are awarded could be two or three times the amount of compensatory damages you are awarded.
👉Also read: How Workplace Discrimination Can Harm You
Facing Racial or National Origin Discrimination at Work? Our New York Discrimination Attorneys Are Ready to Fight for You!
At Levine & Blit, we believe that no one should be discriminated against for who they are. If you have been discriminated against at work on the basis of your race, ethnicity, or national origin, we can help you take legal action against your employer and make sure you are adequately compensated.
Our attorneys bring unmatched legal knowledge and over 100 years of combined legal experience to the table and can help you get the justice you deserve. To discuss your legal options with a skilled New York employment discrimination attorney, call us today at 646-461-6838 or get in touch with us online.