Racial discrimination is present in the workplace and rears its head consistently in the workplace. These cases are notoriously difficult to prove and have the lowest success rate in court – only around 15% of claims sought for racial discrimination in the workplace are successful.
So how can employees go about proving racial discrimination and improving their chances of a claim being awarded in a court of law?
Firstly, an understanding of what defines racial discrimination in the workplace is necessary. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1954 governs all the different facets of employment and the workplace including:
- Policies and procedures
- Work hours
- Promotions and demotions
- Training and development
- Reprimands and disciplinary procedures
If discrimination has taken place with regards to any of the above aspects of employment, a case of racial discrimination can be brought against an employer. It must be proven that the employer intentionally discriminated against an employee according to race in relation to one or more of these aspects:
- Protected Class Employees – The employee must be part of a protected class. A protected class is group of people who display certain traits or characteristics which form the basis of discrimination. These traits can be physical, cultural, religious, mental or purely based on assumptions that are made against specific races or protected classes.
- Qualifications – The employee must be qualified to perform the job in question. If two employees of different races have similar qualifications and perform the same job, but each are treated differently, that can prove that an employee is qualified. An employee can also prove that they are able and have performed the tasks associated with the job satisfactorily.
- Employer Actions – The employee must prove that the employer took an action that had adverse consequences. This can take many forms such as the denial of benefits or a pay raise, promoting another employee due to race or terminating an employee for race related reasons. It is important to prove that these actions were taken intentionally by the employer.
- Discriminatory Beliefs Poor Practices – The employee needs to prove that the employer, has discriminatory beliefs or instituted unfair practices in the workplace. Slander or name-calling in the place of employment can speak to the beliefs of the employer as can practices that make it difficult for a specific employee to do their job due to race related issues. For example, where they are forced to work with a co-worker who has racial or discriminatory beliefs.
It is highly recommended to consult with a labor lawyer or attorney in the event that racial discrimination has taken place in the workplace. The legal knowledge and skills of an experienced lawyer will help prove the intent of an employer as well as the 4 elements of proof that must be delivered in order to file a claim for racial discrimination and improve the chances of success.