Race Discrimination in the Workplace
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 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. 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 an experienced and reputable employment discrimination lawyer will understand how to recognize and prove a true case of race discrimination.
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 gender, age, sexual orientation, race, and several other distinguishing factors. 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 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 will proceed before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In general, all complaints must be filed within 180 days from the date the alleged discrimination took place. Individuals who believe that they have suffered discrimination should consult a New Jersey discrimination lawyer for advice on the best way to proceed with filing a complaint.
Proving Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination can present itself in a variety of ways, from overtly racist acts, to more subtle – though no less damaging – racial insensitivity. 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. In both 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.
In other contexts, racial discrimination is even more 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. Establishing conclusively that race was a factor in an employment action is difficult, but not impossible with the assistance of a qualified Cherry Hill employment lawyer.