Many people in Florida and elsewhere live in a racially contentious environment. We should be past such issues, but we are unfortunately not there yet. Being targeted by negative racial comments and actions can be threatening in any setting, including the workplace. Fortunately, employment laws protect you and others from racial discrimination.
As the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains, racial discrimination at work is illegal, along with other forms of discrimination and harassment. What is racial discrimination, you may wonder? This is any form of negative behavior targeted at a person’s race, color, personal characteristics associated with race or relationship with another person of a certain race. Racial discrimination is prohibited regarding hiring, employment, termination, wages, promotions, assignments, benefits and training. The following examples illustrate racial discrimination:
- Making offensive or derogatory remarks, including slurs, about a person’s race or color
- Segregating employees based on their race
- Displaying racially offensive or insensitive symbols or materials at work
- Making an adverse hiring or firing decision solely based on a person’s race
Like other forms of harassment and discrimination, offhand comments, isolated incidents and simple teasing might not qualify as racial discrimination. However, when the behavior becomes frequent or more severe, resulting in an offensive or hostile working environment, racial discrimination may be present at your workplace.
There are numerous options available if you are the target of racial discrimination. You may make a complaint to your company’s human resources department, as well as file a report with the labor board. Since this can be a complex topic, the information presented in this blog is not meant to be taken as legal advice.