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Ochoa & Calderon

How to Detect Racism at Work: What Qualifies as Race Discrimination?

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As a labor and employment law firm deeply rooted in Riverside, California, Ochoa & Calderón understands the importance of equal opportunity and justice in the workplace. One prevalent issue our clients often face is racial discrimination. This blog post aims to shed light on this crucial topic by clarifying what qualifies as race discrimination under relevant state and federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA). If you have been the target of racism or discrimination based on race at your Riverside workplace, call our office for a no-cost consultation with one of our experienced and dedicated Riverside racial discrimination lawyers.

Legal Overview

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. This federal law applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state, and local governments.

At the state level, California has the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA), which makes it unlawful for employers with five or more employees to discriminate against job applicants and employees because of a protected category, including race, color, and national origin.

Both Title VII and the FEHA cover all employment actions, including hiring, firing, promotions, training, wages, and benefits. FEHA’s lower threshold regarding the size of the company means that employees at small businesses who aren’t covered under Title VII might still have a state-based claim. There are other reasons why one might consider filing a claim with FEHA instead of Title VII, even when both laws apply. An experienced employment discrimination lawyer will be able to analyze your situation and explain your best options for seeking justice in your case.

Understanding Race Discrimination

Race discrimination happens when an individual is treated unfavorably because of their race, racial characteristics, or personal associations with certain racial groups. It’s crucial to note that race discrimination extends beyond the blatant. Subtle forms, often entrenched in company culture or hidden in seemingly neutral policies, can be just as detrimental.

Here are some examples of actions or incidents at work that could qualify as unlawful race discrimination:

1. Differential Treatment: This is the most obvious form of racial discrimination. If an employee or job applicant is treated differently because of their race, such as being overlooked for promotion or experiencing harsher discipline, this could constitute race discrimination.

2. Harassment: Harassment includes racial slurs, offensive jokes, or other offensive conduct based on race. It becomes illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or results in an adverse employment decision.

3. Racially Biased Policies: Policies that seem race-neutral but disproportionately impact individuals of a certain race can also be discriminatory. For instance, if a company’s grooming policy restricts hairstyles associated with a specific race, such as Afros or dreadlocks, it may be seen as discriminatory.

4. Retaliation: Retaliating against an employee for reporting racial discrimination, filing a discrimination claim, or participating in a discrimination investigation or proceeding is unlawful.

5. Microaggressions: These are subtle, often unintentional, acts of discrimination that can accumulate over time to create a hostile work environment. Examples might include making stereotypical assumptions or comments, or regularly excluding an individual from professional opportunities.

Remember, identifying racism at work is often complex, and each situation must be examined individually. The impact of the behavior or policy on the employee and the intent of the accused party are critical factors in determining whether race discrimination has occurred.

If you suspect you’ve been a victim of race discrimination at work in Riverside County, the experienced attorneys at Ochoa & Calderón can guide you through the process of asserting your rights and seeking justice. Please reach out to us for a free consultation—we are here to help. Call 951-901-4444 in Riverside or 844-401-0750 toll-free throughout Southern California.

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