Under both state and federal laws, racial discrimination is illegal in the workplace. Though racial discrimination is often overt, it can sometimes be subtle. If you are subjected to racial discrimination in the workplace, know that you have rights. And at Brown Kwon & Lam, we’re here to fight for them.
Forms of Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
New York is an at-will employment state, meaning an employer can terminate an employee for any reason at any time. This does not mean an employer can discriminate against an employee for racial or other characteristics.
Race discrimination happens in the workplace when an employer makes employment decisions based on race instead of the employee’s skills, experience, or performance. It can also happen inadvertently when a preexisting employment policy negatively impacts certain groups over others.
Forms of racial discrimination in the workplace may include:
- Ethnic and racial slurs
- Not granting an employee a promotion or raise due to race
- Racially insensitive jokes
- Refusing to hire someone based solely on ethnicity or race
- Making offensive comments or gestures based on race
- Offering a lower rate of pay or lesser terms of employment and benefits because of the employee’s race
- Denying training and promotional opportunities
- Employment policies that disproportionately impact certain groups of employees over others based on race
Laws Protecting Against Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer to:
- Fail/refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
- To limit, segregate, or classify employees or applicants for employment in any way that would deprive them of employment opportunities or adversely affect their status as an employee because of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Failure to comply with these mandates can lead to penalties ranging from $50,000 for smaller companies to $300,000 for companies with 500 employees or more.
In addition to Title VII, the New York City Human Rights Law also makes it illegal to discriminate against employees based upon their status in a protected class. Typically, the New York State laws offer more protections to employees than federal regulations do. However, in some cases, it is more beneficial to procure a discrimination claim under federal laws.
Discriminatory Policy: Disparate Impact Discrimination
While an employer’s policy may seem neutral on face value, there can be discriminatory impacts on certain groups. Disparate impact discrimination occurs when an employer’s policy or practice results in discrimination, regardless of the intent behind it.
To prove disparate impact discrimination has taken place, the employee must prove that the new policy has adverse impacts on certain groups. Such policies may include objective and subjective criteria such as tests and personality impressions.
Same-Race Discrimination in New York
Courts have battled over the issue of same-race discrimination for many years. This was made difficult as colorism, as a defined concept, hadn’t really been explored in the courts until the late 1980s.
However, in time, New York employers have found that same-race discrimination does occur as individuals of the same race may treat one another differently on the basis of the color, tone, or shade of their skin.
Examples of same-race discrimination may include a supervisor who is a lighter-complexion Black woman treating an employee who is a darker-skinned Black person adversely in promotions or face-to-face customer positions.
These cases are often difficult but must be taken to court. It doesn’t matter who is making the discriminatory comments or completing the actions, justice must be served.
Filing a Racial Discrimination Case in New York
If you are filing a racial discrimination case against an employer in New York City, you need a reliable employment law firm with a history of results. The attorneys at Brown Kwon & Lam are here to protect your rights in the workplace and defend you in court when those rights have been compromised.
If you have been a victim of racial discrimination, including same-race discrimination, contact Brown Kwon & Lam today. For more information on race discrimination in New York, take a look at our FAQ.