We often think of race discrimination as a black and white issue. The majority vs. the minority. But the reality is that not all racial discrimination stems from at-odds groups. In fact, cases of same-race discrimination are being reported in the American workplace. But how these cases are handled can be problematic for the victim, who often will be forced to jump through hoops to seek the justice they deserve.
Intra-Racial, Same-Race Discrimination
For years, there has been evidence of intra-racial discrimination occurring in the workplace. Following the case of Walker V. Internal Revenue Service (1989), which served as the benchmark for determining racial discrimination between members of the same race, colorism within the Black community was explored. The case also broadened the scope of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, as race and color began to be treated as two separate protected categories.
While courts, and in turn, places of employment, struggled with interrelated issues related to intra-racial discrimination, following the Walker case, courts began to realize that while color was not mentioned in Title VII, it was plausible that in some discrimination cases, color not race, was the root of the discriminatory behavior.
Occurring years after the Walker case, Ross v. Douglas County, Nebraska (2000) brought the question of same-race discrimination to light. Odis Ross, a Black male, was being called racial epithets by his supervisor, Larry Johnson, who is also Black.
Mr. Ross resigned and sued his former employer for race discrimination and harassment under Title VII. The court ruled that the treatment was in fact racially charged, as Johnson would not have called Ross those horrific names if he were white. And, just because Johnson was also Black did not change this.
Similar results were yielded in the case, Johnson v. Strike East Harlem Employment Group, et al. (2014). A Black employee accused her Black supervisor of using racist names against her. The supervisor’s defense? That this wasn’t racially charged but rather a form of “culturally acceptable tough love between Black persons.” The court rejected this defense.
Lessons To Be Learned by NYC Employers: Same-Race Discrimination is Not Excusable
For NYC employers and employees in the midst of race discrimination lawsuits, it is important to remember that slurs based on race, sex, age, gender, color, etc. are never appropriate or excusable, even if the victim and perpetrator belong to the same protected class.
But if you are experiencing same-race discrimination in your New York workplace and fear your claims will not be taken seriously, the racial discrimination attorneys of Brown Known & Lam are here for you.
New York City Race Discrimination Claims: BKL Law
If you are filing a race discrimination claim in New York City, you need the legal representation of an employee rights firm that has a history of results.
If you have been a victim of racial discrimination or same-race discrimination, contact Brown Kwon & Lam today.