Racial Discrimination in the Workplace: What Are Some Examples in 2023?
Federal and state law restricts employment discrimination and attempts to bring it to an end. Depending on which law is being applied, this can include discrimination against an employee based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, citizenship or immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, familial status, marital status, status as a victim of domestic violence, military status, age, or genetic characteristics linked to diseases.
Discrimination can sometimes be subtle. Often there is no smoking gun in terms of an insult or attack based on race or some other protected factor. There can be seemingly neutral policies that result in discriminatory effects and are regulated as disparate impact discrimination. This is true at the federal level but also in some states, like New York. Also, there is retaliation. A person may not be illegally discriminated against, but they may think that they or a co-worker has been, and make a complaint, attend a related meeting, testify, or assist a co-worker in a case.
Federal and state law bans termination or harassment of an employee for such reasons.
Some Examples in 2023
Wrongful termination and false accusations often drive employment discrimination verdicts. In one case, a medical professional was released from her schedule—basically ending her employment—supposedly because of lateness and missed shifts, and had acted in a discriminatory way towards other employees. The professional claimed that the other employees were exaggerating the situation and interrogating her without proper cause. She sued the hospital system for wrongful termination and harassment, and won a jury verdict of $500,000 in damages for either emotional or other nonmonetary damages and $800,000 for similar damages in the future related to the harassing atmosphere.
Hostile work environments can be significant factors in discrimination law verdicts. In one case, an African-American woman hired as a human resources officer at a company sued for discrimination, a hostile work environment, retaliation, and a retaliatory environment. She alleged she was paid less than other officials of a different race, that her initiatives were blocked and ignored, that racist images were displayed at the workplace, and that her employee evaluation rating was downgraded after she complained of discriminatory treatment or events. She won a verdict of $50,000 in $1 million in punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees. The basis of the verdict was hostility based on race in the environment at the workplace.
Retaliation is also the main issue in some racial discrimination verdicts. In one case, a hospital in a major city agreed to pay substantial damages to settle a retaliation case involving both racial discrimination and sex discrimination, one filed by the EEOC. The lawsuit alleged that Black female employees were subjected to less favorable assignments and job conditions because of their race. When one of the women complained about discrimination, she was demoted, in what the EEOC viewed as retaliation. A consent decree resolving the case required both anti-discrimination policies and training to all employees, including managers, in the affected department, as well as supervision by the EEOC of any complaints of sex and/or race discrimination or retaliation.
It is important to know your rights when it comes to racial discrimination and other employment discrimination. A free consultation can help you understand your rights and take action to protect them.
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