Declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979, the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples' Struggling Against Racism and Racial Discrimination seeks to raise awareness of those who suffer from racism and racial discrimination in the workplace. Whereas racism is defined by the system of power possessed by the prevailing dominant racial group over people of color, racial discrimination in the workplace is defined by the unfair treatment of a person or group of people on the basis of their race. The key difference being that racism is perpetrated by the racial demographic in control, while racial discrimination is an interpersonal treatment of an individual or localized group based on their race or color of their skin.
According to an NBC News survey, 64% of Americans agree that racism remains a major problem in the country, but proving racial discrimination in the workplace can be a tricky field to traverse. Few employers admit that an employment decision, such as hiring, promotion or termination, was based on an individual's race. To prove discrimination, therefore, employees often must look to more circumstantial evidence, such as more favorable treatment of those outside of the protected racial group, or proving the employer's rationale for the decision was untrue.
Even trickier still, some instances of racial discrimination in the workplace may occur unintentionally and unwittingly by the perpetrators. Referred to as "disparate impact" discrimination, this occurs when an employer uses a facially neutral policy, such as certain hiring practices, tests, or assessments, but the policies have a disproportionately negative impact on people of protected racial groups. If a clear and legitimate business purpose for these practices can't be validated, then this may qualify for a claim of racial discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went a long way to improving race relations in the workplace and protecting employees from unfair and undue discrimination, but discrimination remains a problem that plagues workspaces across the country. It is important to remember that filing a racial discrimination claim must often fall within a strict timeline so if you believe you've been discriminated against in the workplace based on your race, contact us today.