10 Common Examples of Racial Discrimination at Work

Employment Law Attorney

42% of US employees have experienced or seen racism at work.

Racial discrimination is something that is coming to light more and more as we progress as a society. It’s something that minorities have had to suffer through silently for a very long time and as it becomes a topic that people are openly discussing, it also means that it is becoming a topic that people have questions about. You may have been a victim of racial discrimination in your job without even being fully aware and you deserve to know your rights. Let’s talk about what it means to be discriminated against in the workplace.

1. Being passed over for a promotion that you deserve for a non-minority with fewer qualifications.

I would say that this particular example is one that happens frequently and goes unreported the most due to the fact that it is hard to prove; but that doesn’t change the fact that it is racial discrimination and is illegal.

2. Inappropriate comments being made about an employee’s race.

This is, unfortunately, very common when it comes to racism in the workplace. There are dozens of variations of an inappropriate comment but what it comes down to is: if you feel that a comment that was made came from a place of racism or it made you uncomfortable, it is an inappropriate comment; without exception.

3. Making malicious jokes about racial stereotypes.

“It’s all in good fun” or “It was just a joke” doesn’t change the fact that it’s discriminatory and therefore illegal. These jokes are difficult for the victim to report because these reports aren’t always heard by an understanding ear. Sometimes employees are told to “toughen up” or “just laugh along”. Under no circumstances do you have to do either of these things, you do not have to suffer from discrimination or racism just because they are hidden wihin a joke.

4. Enforcing a dress code on minorities only.

Some workplaces will have a dress code that they take seriously and it is one of the rules of the office/job. It is also not uncommon for the dress codes to be more strictly enforced on minorities while the employers are more lenient on those that are not. For example, in an office with a strict suit and tie policy, a minority may be reprimanded for not wearing a tie and another individual of a different race would not be.

5. Failure to hire an applicant due to their race.

Unfortunately, racial discrimination doesn’t always start after an individual has been hired. There are companies that only hire specific races to maintain an “image” that they believe they need to maintain.

6. Assigning employees of a specific race to the same tasks and assigning non-minorities to other tasks, keeping the races “separate”.

This is blatant segregation and is something that an employer can have almost no defense for. There is evidence readily available in the everyday happenings at the workplace.

7. Race coming up in a reprimand.

Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes we do have to answer to our supervisors for them. However, if a reprimand includes a racial comment is added, this is racist behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone. For example,
“Aren’t your people supposed to be hard working?”

8. Negative or careless comments on appearance in relation to personal customs.

Comments on an employee wearing a Hijab, Shayla, or other cultural or religious garments can be okay, such as a fellow employee complimenting the color of the garment; but if a negative or offensive comment is said, it is very much racial discrimination. An example of a careless can be, “Why do you bother wearing that? Isn’t it annoying?”

9. Stereotyping.

If a colleague or employer assumes someone’s abilities or lack thereof due to the fact that they are of a certain race or from a certain country, it is racist and illegal.

10. Providing better supplies to employees of a different race.

You may be being provided with worse or older supplies than other employees of another race, on purpose. For example, if you need a new computer and the company buys a new computer for your non-minority colleague and only gives you the computer that was replaced, this could be considered racial discrimination.

You deserve to know your rights and you deserve protection of these rights. You do not have to sit in silence and feel like no one is on your side. If you or someone you know may have been a victim of racial discrimination, give us a call. We can help you figure out what steps to take next.

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