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What is racial discrimination in the workplace?

If you feel you were denied a job or are mistreated at your current job because of your color or race, you may be dealing with a case of racial discrimination in the workplace. This type of discrimination comes in different forms and can often be hard to pinpoint. When an employee or applicant is treated unfairly because of color or personal characteristics associated with race (facial features, skin color or hair texture), then it may be a case of racial discrimination. Per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, race or color cannot affect pay, job assignments, hiring, firing, promotions, training, layoff, fringe benefits and any other employment conditions.

Federal laws and racial discrimination

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees and applicants from racial discrimination under Title VII. State laws may also include their own types of rules and guidelines regarding discrimination in the workplace.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers employees of any education institution, local or state government or private employers that have more than 15 employees. In Colorado, there is no minimum number of employees required, meaning all employers must abide by the laws no matter how many people they employ. Title VII protection also extends to labor organizations, public employment agencies and joint labor management committees controlling training and apprenticeship.

Discrimination regarding friends and spouse

Regardless of what color or race you are, you cannot be discriminated against because of the color of your spouse or the people you associate with. The law also prohibits discrimination for these:

  • Any association or membership in ethnic-based groups or organizations
  • Participation or attendance in places of worship, cultural practices or schools that are associated with minority groups
  • Any association or marriage to an individual of another race

Manner of speech and cultural dress are just a few examples that cannot be discriminated against, but these factors cannot interfere with the ability of the employee to perform basic job duties.

Discrimination between the same race

It may not seem like a common problem, but you can also be discriminated against by someone who is your same race. Under the law, the perpetrator and victim can be the same race, and any type of discrimination based on color or race is illegal.

At times, racial jokes or slurs may also fall under the umbrella of racial discrimination. If the comments create a hostile, offensive or intimidating working environment, it may be covered under Title VII.

If you feel you are or have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your race or the color of your skin, you may benefit from seeking help from an attorney immediately.

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