Racial discrimination is a serious problem for both employers and employees that can damage the morale and reputation of a workplace, diminish the dignity and livelihood of employees, and result in costly lawsuits. From our offices in Red Bank, NJ, and Marlton, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. represents both employees and employers throughout the state in a wide range of employment discrimination matters, including race discrimination. Our racial discrimination attorneys will provide you with a clear and candid evaluation of any potential claims, as well as all legal options available to you.
Racial Discrimination In The Workplace
The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), and other laws strictly prohibit employers from discriminating against current and potential employees on the basis of their race, color, or national origin. Still, racial discrimination is a significant problem in many workplaces. Year after year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ranks race discrimination as the most commonly reported type of workplace discrimination, making up about one third of total charges. In 2019 alone, 23,976 complaints were filed with the EEOC and $79.8 million was paid out in racial discrimination charges.
Unfortunately, many more instances of race discrimination go unreported. This may be because the victim is unsure whether they were truly discriminated against, or worry that it will be too difficult to prove. They may even fear termination or other forms of retaliation. When this is the case, victims are advised to consult an attorney for help and legal guidance. Only experienced and reputable racial discrimination attorneys will understand how to recognize and prove a true case of race discrimination in the workplace.
Timelines And Venue Matter When Pursuing A Race Discrimination Claim
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or prospective employees on the basis of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and several other protected classes. While Title VII applies only to companies with 15 or more employees, all New Jersey companies – regardless of their size – must abide by the NJLAD. If an employee chooses to pursue an action for racial discrimination under the NJLAD, they may either file a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) or file a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey. An experienced employment law attorney should be consulted prior to the filing of any claim of discrimination, however.
Those who seek relief under Title VII may proceed before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but this remedy may not be required in certain jurisdictions. In general, all complaints under Title VII must be filed within 180 days from the date the alleged discrimination took place, while claims under the NJLAD must be filed within two (2) years of adverse employment action. Individuals who believe that they have suffered discrimination in the workplace should consult a New Jersey racial discrimination lawyer for advice on the best way to proceed with filing a complaint.
What Qualifies as Racial Discrimination in NJ?
Race discrimination in the workplace can cover a broad spectrum of activity specifically targeting people because of their ethnicity, including:
- Termination or Demotion
- Failure to Recruit or Hire
- Differential Treatment or Pay
- Withholding Training, Promotions or Career Advancement
- Being Subjected to Harassment or Increased Scrutiny
- Racist Jokes or Uncomfortable Discussion of Race
- The Use of Racial Slurs or Stereotypes, or Display of Racist Symbols
- The Existence of a Hostile Work Environment with Severe and Pervasive Harassment
- Terminating or Disciplining an Employee in Retaliation for Making a Complaint
Racial discrimination can present itself in a variety of ways, from overtly racist acts, to more subtle – though no less damaging – racial insensitivity. Discrimination can come from an employer, coworker, or client, even if they are the same race as the victim. Telling or laughing at racially-charged jokes in the workplace may seem like harmless fun to some, but this sort of behavior can contribute to a hostile work environment for those on the receiving end. Similarly, asking a co-worker inappropriate questions about their ethnicity can make that employee uncomfortable to the extent that it interferes with their ability to perform their job duties. Racial discrimination can also occur when someone is treated unfavorably because they are married to a member of a certain race. In any of these scenarios, employees who feel they have been harassed or intimidated because of their race should bring their concerns to the attention of a supervisor as soon as possible.
Proving Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination in the workplace can be difficult to discern and prove. An employee who is otherwise qualified but repeatedly passed over for a promotion or denied certain shifts and duties may be a victim of race discrimination. Layoffs that disproportionately affect one minority group over another, or company policies that encourage or allow only one ethnic group to interact with customers can also call into question the motivation of employers. Differential treatment can also be an indicator of racial discrimination, for example if an employee is terminated for an infraction that only resulted in a warning for an employee of another race. Establishing conclusively that race was a factor in an employment action is difficult, but not impossible with the assistance of qualified New Jersey racial discrimination attorneys.
Representing Employers in Race Discrimination Cases
Employers are responsible for creating a workplace atmosphere where racial discrimination is not encouraged or tolerated. The most important thing for employers is to take proactive measures to prevent, investigate, address, and defend any possible claims of racial discrimination. Employers facing accusations of race discrimination must work closely with lawyers who can develop the strongest possible defenses to these claims. Our firm represents a wide range of employers to defend racial discrimination claims.
Experienced NJ Racial Discrimination Attorneys Can Help You
Whenever you feel you are being discriminated against in the workplace because of your race, or you witness the discrimination of another, it is important to report it to your employer. Before complaining, you should speak with an experienced racial discrimination attorney. If the employer fails to take action to correct the situation, which often happens, our attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. are standing by. We will review the details of your case and help you determine if you should pursue action.