Los Angeles Race Discrimination Lawyer
Here at Theory Law APC, we understand how destructive race discrimination can be, not just to an individual’s career, but also their self-esteem and overall well-being. A knowledgeable and dedicated Los Angeles Discrimination Lawyer at our office will fight tirelessly for your rights, helping to ensure your rights are protected, and you are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of your race or ethnicity. We’re here to help you navigate the complex legal process, standing by your side every step of the way, and will hold your employer responsible for race discrimination.
Understanding Race Discrimination at Work
Typically, race discrimination in the workplace involves treating an employee differently because of their race or personal characteristics associated with race. Racial discrimination can can occur in the workplace subtly or blatantly, influencing a person’s hiring, firing, promotion, job assignment, or other terms of employment.
An instance of race discrimination in the workplace is the case of an Asian-American employee repeatedly passed over for a promotion. The management justifies this by saying that she doesn’t fit the company’s leadership profile. Meanwhile, her less experienced Caucasian counterparts receive promotions. This scenario is a textbook case of race discrimination, as direct discriminatoin based on race.
Other types of race discrimination can happen, such as:
- Refusal to hire a job applicant based on their race or racial features.
- Discriminating against an employee by limiting their job assignments, training, or benefits.
- Demoting, firing, or suspending an employee because of their race.
- Harassing an employee by making racial epithets, derogatory remarks, and offensive jokes based on their race, creating a hostile workplace.
Legal Protections of California and Federal Laws
At both federal and state levels, there are laws in place to protect individuals from race discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is the primary federal law prohibiting race discrimination in the workplace. It also forbids discrimination based on color and national origin.
California, renowned for having some of the strongest anti-discrimination laws in the country, is governed by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA provides broader protection than Title VII and prohibits discrimination based on race, color, ancestry, and national origin, among other characteristics. It’s essential to note that FEHA covers businesses with five or more employees, offering protections to more individuals than Title VII.
For instance, under FEHA, an African-American employee who’s subjected to racial slurs and offensive graffiti in the workplace has a right to seek recourse. The employer has a duty to prevent racism and provide a workplace free of harassment. Failing to take necessary action against such behavior could leave the employer liable under FEHA.
Both federal and state laws provide employee rights and protections to foster an environment of equal opportunity in the workplace and prevent unfair employment practices. Employers must have fair employment practices for job applicants and employees alike, regardless of whether they are currently working for the employer or are in the process of being hired.
What is Direct Discrimination and Indirect Discrimination Based on Race?
Race discrimination in the workplace can happen in various ways. It might be overt, covert, or even unintentional, resulting from implicit bias. It can occur as direct discrimination or indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently because of their race, such as a new manager refusing to promote a highly qualified employee to lead supervisor.
Indirect discrimination, on the other hand, occurs when a seemingly neutral policy or practice disproportionately affects employees of a particular race. For example, a company policy requiring employees they hire to be clean-shaven might disproportionately impact African American men who are more likely to suffer from a skin condition aggravated by shaving.
Real Life Examples of Race Discrimination
Though workplace discrimination based on race is not limited to the following examples, here are a few instances, ranging from overt acts of prejudice to more subtle biases that influence decision-making:
- Biased Hiring Practices: An employer might reject a candidate because of their race, even if they are well-qualified for the job. For instance, an Asian American applicant might be overlooked for a managerial position because the hiring manager, either consciously or subconsciously, believes the stereotype that Asian Americans are not assertive leaders.
- Racial Harassment: This can include offensive jokes, slurs, racial epithets, or derogatory comments based on the employee’s race, or perceived race. For example, an African American employee subjected to repeated racial slurs by coworkers, which creates a hostile work environment. Discrimination based on the employee’s race can also occur because of the changes to the employee’s job.
- Favoritism: This occurs when the employer shows favoritism or unfair treatment based on race. Suppose an employer consistently gives better projects or promotions, or access to training to employees of a particular race. This destroys the employee’s chances of advancing at the company, leading to write-ups and then her firing.
- Exclusion: A worker might be systematically excluded from meetings, social events, or important email threads because of their race. For example, an Indigenous employee might find himself consistently left out of team-building events, impacting his ability to collaborate effectively with the team.
- Unfair Discipline or Dismissal: If an employer is quicker to discipline or fire employees of a certain race, this could indicate race discrimination. An example might involve an Asian employee who is fired for a mistake, while her white colleagues who’ve made similar errors are simply reprimanded.
- Retaliation for Reporting Discrimination: An employee who reports racial discrimination might face retaliation, such as demotion, increased scrutiny, or even termination. For instance, an African American employee who files a complaint about racial discrimination finds herself suddenly demoted to a lesser role.
Proving Race Discrimination
In order to successfully prove race discrimination, the employee must show that the employer’s unlawful conduct was motivated by the employee’s race. Understanding the essential elements and evidence requirements for proving race discrimination is important to safeguarding your rights. There are generally four key elements in proving race discrimination.
- The individual was an employee and belonged to a protected class. In the United States, everyone, regardless of their racial background, is protected from race discrimination.
- The employee must have experienced an adverse employment action. This can include being fired, demoted, suspended, receiving a pay cut, or passed over for promotion, among other things.
- Was qualified for the position or job benefits, or the employee was meeting their employer’s legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse action.
- Must show that the employer took the adverse employment action because of the employee’s race.
Is Favoritism a Form of Race Discrimination?
While favoritism itself isn’t illegal, it can become a legal issue if the favoritism is based on race. For example, if a manager only promotes employees of a specific race while equally or more qualified employees of other races are overlooked, it can be a form of race discrimination.
When Does Favoritism Cross the Line?
Favoritism crosses the line into discrimination when decisions about job assignments, promotions, raises, or other work conditions are based on race. For instance, if a supervisor consistently gives the best assignments or promotions to employees of a certain race while other qualified employees are overlooked, this could be considered race discrimination.
Identifying Harassment Based on Race
Racial harassment is another form of race discrimination that often surfaces in workplaces. Harassment can include offensive or derogatory comments about a person’s race or color, racial slurs, or the display of racially-offensive symbols. Even offhand comments or isolated incidents can be classified as harassment if they’re severe enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment.
Consider this real-life example: A Hispanic construction worker regularly finds offensive graffiti at his worksite and is often the butt of racist jokes from his colleagues. Despite reporting this behavior to his supervisor, no action is taken. This situation illustrates racial harassment, with the employer potentially liable for failing to address the reported conduct.
The Intersection of National Origin and Race Discrimination
National origin discrimination often intersects with race discrimination, as these two forms of prejudice are closely linked. National origin discrimination involves treating individuals unfavorably because they are from a particular country, part of the world, or have an accent or appear to be of a certain ethnic background.
Let’s take an example: An IT company refuses to hire a highly skilled applicant because he is from the Middle East and the hiring manager assumes that clients would feel uncomfortable dealing with him. This is a clear case of national origin discrimination that also has elements of race discrimination.
Employer’s Responsibility and the Duty to Prevent Racism
Employers have a legal responsibility to maintain a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. They are expected to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct any discriminatory behavior.
This includes implementing clear anti-discrimination and harassment policies, providing training to employees, and promptly addressing any complaints of race discrimination or harassment. If an employer fails to fulfill these duties, they could be held liable for any discrimination or harassment that occurs in their workplace.
What to Do if You Experienced Race Discrimination?
Facing racial discrimination can be a challenging and distressing experience, but there are steps you can take to help your case:
- Note instances of discrimination as they occur, noting the date, time, location, people involved, and what exactly happened. Direct evidence, such as racially derogatory comments, can be very powerful.
- In some situations the discrimination may be more subtle. Is a particular race frequently passed over for promotions, given unfavorable assignments, or disciplined more harshly than others?
- If others have observed the discriminatory behavior, they could serve as witnesses. Note their contact information and a brief summary of what they witnessed.
- Keep copies of all employment-related documents, including performance reviews, disciplinary records, email or message exchanges, and any other relevant paperwork.
- Navigating a discrimination claim can be complex. Consulting with an experienced employment lawyer, like those at Theory Law APC, can provide you with valuable guidance. In the alternative, you can file a complaint with a government agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In California, the Civil Rights Department, formerly Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), also handles such complaints.
Race discrimination and harassment persistently affect countless individuals in the workplace, leading to undue stress and preventing career progression. Nobody should endure unequal treatment because of their race. An employee who believes they have experienced discrimination or harassment based on their race has many options to assert and protect their rights.
If you believe you have been a victim of race discrimination or harassment, don’t hesitate to seek help from a knowledgeable Los Angeles Discrimination Lawyer at Theory Law APC. They can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options under both California and federal laws.
How Can Theory Law Help You?
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