Racial Discrimination at Workplace
Our Los Angeles racial discrimination attorneys at The Rubin Law Corporation serve clients in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, San Diego and the entire Southern California region in the fight against racial discrimination in the workplace.
Federal law — primarily the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of race, whether in hiring, pay, promotion, benefits or termination.
The law bars employment decisions based on stereotypes (or assumptions about traits or abilities of members of a particular race). So are employment decisions based on a person’s ancestry, birthplace or culture, linguistic characteristics, or surnames associated with a specific national origin. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act provides similar protections for victims with enhanced benefits and remedies.
Understanding Race Discrimination
The law prohibits employers from making decisions concerning employment based on an applicant or employee’s race. For instance, an employer is not legally allowed to choose a white candidate over a black candidate. In addition, an employer cannot promote employees on the basis of race. Employers cannot offer employees different salaries based on race.
While anti-discrimination laws have been on the books since 1964, discrimination in the workplace can and does still happen It happens both here in Los Angeles and all across the U.S. In many situations, it can be difficult for those who are passed up for promotion or denied employment based on their race or national origin to prove a race discrimination case. It requires unearthing evidence that the employer is using discriminatory decision making in their hiring, firing, or promoting process.
Those who have been victims of illegal discrimination are generally their own best advocates. When you believe that your employer has treated individuals unfairly based on their race, you make your case that much better by recording instances of discriminatory speech and decision making.
Different Kinds of Discrimination Lawsuits
Overt Racial Discrimination in the Employment Culture / Harassment
There are a number of different kinds of race discrimination lawsuits. A plaintiff can claim that they suffered harassment based on their race or nation of origin. They can also claim that management or human resources did not take their complaints seriously. This is similar to a sexual harassment lawsuit. The employee is targeted by a cultural problem within their company. Fellow employees may make racialized jokes, use racial slurs, or otherwise harass or abuse an employee based on their race. When an employee files a complaint about this behavior, management often either ignores them or retaliates against them by firing or demoting them.
In lawsuits such as these, the defendant offers some other pretense for the firing. They may refer to performance reviews, say that the employee’s work was substandard, or offer some other reason. Your racial discrimination attorney’s job is to show that the employer’s official reason for the firing is only a pretense.
The mere presence of jokes or slurs is not enough to prove this kind of a lawsuit. Your racial discrimination attorney must show that acts were frequent and pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment. You may also need to show that those in a position of authority within your company elected not to take your concerns or complaints seriously. In some instances, however, a single act may be so uncalled for that it constitutes a threat or intimidation. In that situation, one act alone may be grounds to sue.
The Black Lives Matter movement has brought race to the forefront of American consciousness. The issues in the headlines address police brutality but unfairness in the workplace is no less a pressing matter. Wrongful termination based on race is often disguised as termination for performance or misconduct. But are all employees subject to the same standard? That is frequently the question in cases where racial discrimination is at issue. As lawyers, to prove our discrimination case we need evidence of disparate treatment, that is, evidence of different standards being applied to employees of different races or different national origins. So when you contact your lawyer, it is helpful to have such evidence at your fingertips. Sometimes the application of different performance standards is accompanied by direct evidence consisting of racial epithets that denote workplace racial harassment. This will be in some instances written into text messages or emails. A lawsuit is significantly strengthened if this evidence is retained. Sometimes there are witnesses who hear offensive or degrading utterances and who are willing to come forward and sign statements or declarations. When racial unfairness does surface in the workplace, it is always helpful if the employee who is the object of the hostility complains in writing to HR, with email generally being the easiest way to communicate and create a lasting record. Documenting workplace hostility and discrimination is one key to a successful lawsuit that will result in fair compensation and justice.
Glass Ceiling Lawsuits
These types of lawsuits arise when a company fails to promote individuals based on their race. In other words, there is a disproportionate lack of individuals of a certain race in executive positions. Here, a racial discrimination attorney will attempt to show that their client had better qualifications, more experience, or a better overall work record than the individual who ultimately received the offer for the position. The key to litigating a case like this is to show the merits of individuals whom management passed up for promotion over those to whom management ultimately offered the job.
Disparate Impact Lawsuits
Disparate impact lawsuits are somewhat different than harassment and retaliation lawsuits. Here, the plaintiff attempts to show that some seemingly neutral policy is impacting members of one race disproportionately.
There was a recent lawsuit against a company in which a female employee claimed that she received less pay than her male counterparts. The woman filed a lawsuit against the company. The company, in turn, claimed that they always offered their employees 10% more than their last salary. Since, on average, women receive less pay than men do, the court determined that the impact of this policy perpetuated the gender wage gap.
Cases like these are not out of the ordinary. Sometimes, workplace grooming policies can disproportionately affect those various races. Moreover, they are almost always based on a status quo that was made by and for white men.
Sometimes an employer will require employees to be of a certain height. This policy could disproportionately affect Asian and Latino men. If an employee files a complaint over this policy, the employer must defend the necessity of the policy. In some instances, a height requirement may be necessary to perform certain jobs. A racial discrimination attorney will attempt to prove that there are a number of other ways to handle the situation other than discrimination.
Most recently, the question of banning dreadlocks as part of a grooming standard has shown up in the courts. Many have the opinion that dreadlocks are unsanitary or they don’t fit with the company culture. On the other hand, this grooming standard seems targeted at African Americans.
Race Discrimination Lawyers in Los Angeles
Even in the absence of overt examples of race discrimination, an employer’s seemingly neutral workplace policies and hiring criteria can amount to discrimination if they disproportionately and negatively impact members of a specific group. In addition, it is against the law for an employer, potential or current, to ask you the origin of your surname, where you come from and whether or not you are of a mixed race. Racial discrimination is not pretty; contact The Rubin Law Corporation to speak to a race discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles to get the representation you need.