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Race Discrimination

Race discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of race, color, or ethnic origin. Race discrimination also includes discrimination on the basis of physical characteristics associated with a particular race. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and various other federal and state laws prohibit discrimination based on ancestry or ethnicity. All states have stronger anti-discrimination laws directed at fighting job-related race and minority discrimination.

Title VII also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions about abilities, traits, or the performance of individuals of certain racial groups. It prohibits both intentional discrimination and neutral job policies that disproportionately exclude minorities and that are not job-related.

Equal employment opportunity cannot be denied because of marriage to. or association with, an individual of a different race; membership in, or association with, ethnic-based organizations or groups; or attendance or participation in schools or places of worship generally associated with certain minority groups.

Examples of discrimination committed by some employers:

  • Paying lower salaries and other compensation to blacks and Hispanics
  • Engaging in a quota system
  • Denying promotion on the basis of race or color.

Title VII violations include:

Race-related characteristics and conditions:

Discrimination on the basis of an immutable characteristic associated with race—such as skin color, hair texture, or certain facial features—is in violation of the law. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of a condition that predominantly affects one race, unless the practice is job-related and consistent with business necessity. For example, since sickle cell anemia predominantly occurs in African-Americans, a policy that excludes individuals with sickle cell anemia must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Harassment on the basis of race or color.

Ethnic slurs, racial "jokes," offensive or derogatory comments, or other verbal or physical conduct based on an individual's race or color constitutes unlawful harassment, if the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment or interferes with the individual's work performance.

Segregation and Classification of Employees

For example: employees who belong to a protected group are segregated by physically isolating them from other employees or from customer contact. In addition, employers may not assign jobs to employees according to race or color; for instance, assigning primarily African-Americans to predominantly African-American establishments or geographic areas. It is also illegal to exclude members of one group from particular positions, or to group or categorize employees or jobs so that certain jobs are generally held by members of a certain protected group.

Coding job applications or resumes to designate an applicant's race, by either an employer or employment agency, constitutes evidence of discrimination, where people of a certain race or color are excluded from employment or from certain positions.

Pre-Employment Inquiries

Requesting pre-employment information that discloses or tends to disclose an applicant's race strongly suggests that race will be used unlawfully as a basis for hiring. Therefore, if members of minority groups are excluded from employment, the request for such pre-employment information would likely constitute evidence of discrimination.

If an employer legitimately needs information about its employees' or applicants' race for affirmative action purposes and/or to track applicant flow, it may obtain racial information and simultaneously guard against discriminatory selection by using "tear-off sheets" for the identification of an applicant's race. After the applicant completes the application and the tear-off portion, the employer separates the tear-off sheet from the application and does not use it in the selection process.

Employee's Rights

Solely because of race or color, employers cannot:

  • Deny an applicant a job
  • Set different wage rates
  • Pay non-whites less
  • Deny transfers, promotions, or assignments
  • Penalize employees with reduced privileges, employment opportunities, or compensation
  • Fire employees. Also, employers cannot retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate because of race or color, or for filing a discrimination charge, or for testifying or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation.
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