Phillips & Associates

Racist Comments in Philadelphia

Employment Discrimination Lawyers Representing Workers in Philadelphia

Racist comments have no place in Philadelphia workplaces. Racist comments can include any hostile or derogatory remarks about race, including racial slurs and epithets such as the n-word. They can include remarks that you were hired based on your race rather than on merit. They can also include remarks that make fun of you for your skin color or other aspects of your phenotype. Certainly racially motivated symbols such as nooses in the workplace are inexcusable. If you have been subjected to racist comments or actions at work, you should hire a Philadelphia race discrimination attorney who has experience pursuing legal remedies for this type of misconduct. At Phillips & Associates, we help you recover damages for the racial harassment and discrimination.

Racist Comments

Racist comments can be evidence of a race discrimination/bias in employment decisions, or they can constitute racial harassment such as a hostile work environment. You may have claims for either or both. Race discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee adversely because of his or her race. For example, if you are Black and you are repeatedly passed over for a promotion while less qualified White people are promoted, this may be race discrimination. In that context, you may be able to introduce evidence of your supervisor making racist comments to support your claim of race discrimination/bias.

On the other hand, if racist comments are sufficiently severe or pervasive to create an offensive and abusive environment that you personally find hostile, and that a reasonable person would also find hostile, you may have a claim for hostile work environment harassment. For example, some courts have found that a single time use of the n-word in the workplace can be sufficient to constitute a hostile work environment.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and §1981 are the federal law that prohibit race discrimination and racial harassment. If an adverse action has occurred that appears to be based on your race, and you have also experienced racist comments, your attorney may sue for both race discrimination and hostile work environment under Title VII and/or §1981. We can only sue under Title VII if your workplace has a minimum of 15 employees. Under Title VII, a hostile work environment is usually made up of a series of separate incidents that collectively create the illegal racial discrimination.

You may also be able to pursue damages for older discriminatory actions, even if some component acts of the hostile work environment occurred outside the statute of limitations period. Just one act that contributed to the hostile work environment needs to have occurred within the statutory period. Moreover, even if you stayed in the workplace for months or years in spite of the racist comments, you can still pursue claims for damages. The Third Circuit, which is the federal appeals court for Pennsylvania, has found in favor of Black employees who pursued hostile work environment and constructive discharge claims, even when the claimants had applied for, and received, promotions during the time period in question. A court has noted that it is natural for someone who is mistreated by supervisors and peers to still try to achieve a higher position.

Under Title VII, the court is supposed to consider the context of racial comments because even subtle racial discrimination is not to be tolerated. The context matters to a racial harassment claim because sometimes simply stating what the words used were is not sufficient to show the full circumstances or why the comments were harassing. It is crucial to hire an attorney who understands how to present these types of claims and whether you can best obtain relief under federal, state, or local law.

Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Protections

You may also be able to recover damages under the state law, which is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), if your employer has at least 4 employees. For a hostile work environment claim, you will need to prove that you faced discrimination because of your race, the discrimination was pervasive or severe enough to alter the terms and conditions of your employment, that the conduct adversely affected you, and that the conduct would have adversely affected a reasonable person in the same circumstances. For a claim of racial discrimination, you will need to prove that an adverse, racially-motivated, employment decision was made with respect to your employment, such as hiring, firing, promotions, over-time, performance improvement plans (PIPs), etc.

You also may be able to pursue damages under the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, which is the local law prohibiting race discrimination and racial harassment. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations may enforce this local law which closely follows the state and federal laws.

Seek Guidance from a Race Discrimination Attorney in the Philadelphia Area

If you have faced racist comments, images, or other forms of harassment in a Philadelphia workplace, you should consult the skillful employment litigators at Phillips & Associates about the viability of your claim. You can call us at (215) 315-7694 or complete our online form for a free consultation.

1635 Market St #1600A
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 315-7694
Fax: (212) 901-2107

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