New York City Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Employees
Racism remains a prevalent issue in workplaces. It can undermine your professional life. Employers are not permitted to treat employees differently based on their race with regard to compensation, benefits, training, discipline, evaluation, bonuses, or promotions. Racial harassment is also a notable form of race discrimination. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City race discrimination lawyers provide knowledgeable representation in these claims. Recently, Silvia Stanciu of Phillips & Associates wrote an article in Lawyer Monthly about signs of racial discrimination at work and how to address them.
Silvia Stanciu’s Article on Race Discrimination
Silvia Stanciu explained that in a workplace context, race discrimination includes any adverse treatment against job applicants or employees that is based on someone’s race or race-related features. Race-related features can include skin color, facial features, or the texture of one's hair. Often, race discrimination is associated with colorism, or treating a worker unfavorably because of the shade, tone, or color of their skin. Race discrimination can be perpetrated by someone of the same race as the victim. Laws prohibiting race discrimination include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law.
Race discrimination in the workplace can include racial slurs, racial stereotypes, racist paraphernalia like nooses or swastikas, singing along to racist song lyrics, and racist jokes. Employers that make decisions based on a job applicant or employee's race or color can be held accountable for race discrimination.
Ms. Stanciu mentioned the impact of implicit bias on employer decisions. Implicit bias describes people's subtly racist or discriminatory tendencies prior to developing into express examples of racial discrimination. Employers are not always aware of their own implicit bias, and they should take steps to address implicit bias. Implicit bias can be challenging to spot when it is simply treated as an abstract idea. It can be helpful for an employer to give HR specific examples of how implicit bias manifests so that they can become aware of what certain seemingly neutral comments mean. Employers are supposed to train workers to notice and address bias.
Signs of Racial Discrimination
Your employer might be accountable for racial discrimination if it knows or should have known that one or more episodes of racial discrimination have taken place in the workplace but does not take steps to remedy them. Your employer should address what happened with both the harasser and you to make sure that discrimination does not happen again. An employer's defense of being ignorant may not be enough to overcome a racial discrimination claim. It may be construed as ratification of a harasser's behavior.
Similarly, it is not enough for an employer to implement a harassment policy to protect itself from liability. Companies can be liable for racial discrimination when managers are actually involved in the racially harassing behavior and thereby generating a hostile work environment for employees. Management can set a tone for the entire office, and their tolerance can be ratification of offensive behavior and make it difficult for an employee to make a complaint.
Employers can be held accountable for retaliation when they do not shield employees who complain of racial discrimination. It is common for employees to be anxious when complaining about racial discrimination. If you are concerned about racial discrimination, you should document what happened immediately after it happened, notify your employer about your concerns, and continue to update HR or management if the racial harassment continues. You should also contact an attorney to discuss your next steps.
If you are not satisfied with your employer's efforts to address the situation, you may be able to file a complaint with an agency or in court. Different laws have different requirements. If your employer has at least 15 employees, you can file a charge of racial discrimination with the EEOC. If a New York City employer has at least four employees, you can file a complaint with the Division of Human Rights or the City Commission on Human Rights. 42 U.S. Code §1981.
Consult a Racial Discrimination Attorney in New York City
Racial discrimination is humiliating and disturbing, and it can harm workers economically. If you are affected by racial discrimination at your workplace, you should get the advice of a lawyer. Contact Phillips & Associates at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form for a free consultation. We handle employment litigation throughout New York City, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.