How Do You Prove Racial Discrimination at Work?

  1. EEOC-Employment Law
  2. How Do You Prove Racial Discrimination at Work?
racial discrimination at work

Every state in the US prohibits racial discrimination in the workplace. If you think you are being discriminated against based on your race, national origin, or color, you have various options, including potentially bringing a lawsuit for discrimination. But first, we recommend contacting an experienced employment lawyer who can assist you in protecting yourself and documenting unlawful conduct. Below are some examples of what workplace racial discrimination can look like in practice.

Rejecting Employment

Legal grounds for rejecting a job candidate are a lack of credentials for the job in question or inadequate interview performance. If you suspect that you were denied employment due to your race, you may be able to bring a discrimination lawsuit.

Refusing to Adequately Train

It may also be considered racial discrimination if you are refused training upon accepting a job offer or if your training is much less thorough than that offered to recruits of other races. All new hires should get sufficient training for their new positions regardless of race or ethnicity.

Withholding Benefits or Promotions

An employer is prohibited from denying you a promotion due to your race. They may deny you a promotion only if they believe another person is better suited for the position. In addition, they are forbidden by law from denying you mandatory employee benefits such as health insurance, 401(k) and retirement plans, and unpaid family leave based on your race.

Racial Harassment

If you are harassed at work because of your race, you may have a claim for racial discrimination. This includes coworkers or superiors who use racial slurs or make offensive jokes or statements about race. In addition, physical harassment based on race, ethnicity, or skin color constitutes racial discrimination in many cases.

Evidence of Racial Discrimination

It’s uncommon for an employee to have “smoking gun” evidence of flat-out discrimination. For instance, the firm owner may have emailed recruiting managers stating, “It looks like we have been hiring many Hispanic employees. No more, or we will lose out on closing deals.” Or, a boss may have informed an employee, “As long as I make the choices, there will be no Hispanics in management at this organization.”

So, what can you do if you think you have been discriminated against but lack concrete evidence? You must establish your case using circumstantial evidence. This can be accomplished by establishing a prima facie case of discrimination. Prima facie is Latin, meaning on its face. If you bring a case, you must be able to demonstrate this to compel your employer to produce evidence.

A prima facie case in a racial discrimination lawsuit consists of four elements:

  • You belong to a protected class.
  • You are either qualified for a position or executing it competently.
  • You were denied a job benefit or subjected to a negative employment action.
  • The recipient of the benefit was a person of a different race, or the company continued to look for qualified candidates.

For demonstrative purposes, here is an example: If you were denied employment with an organization and you suspect it was because you are African American, the prima facie case would consist of providing proof that you were qualified for the position, you were denied the position, and the person who was hired for the same position was not African American.

Next, the employer must prove that it had a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for denying you employment. This could be that you needed to have the requisite license, certificate, degree, skills, or experience.

After the employer submits this evidence, you bear the burden of submitting evidence to demonstrate that the company’s decision was based on discrimination. Typically, this is accomplished by demonstrating that the employer’s argument is a pretext for discrimination. For example, you might submit proof showing the individual who was hired had less experience than you, that you had the requisite qualifications for the position, and that the organization has never hired an African American for this position.

Contact Our Employment Law Attorneys Today

An experienced employment law attorney can evaluate your circumstances and determine whether your employer complies with the law. If not, the attorney can assist you in assessing your alternatives and determining the best plan to preserve your rights.

If you’re in Memphis, TN, St. Louis, MO, or surrounding areas (including Germantown, TN, Collierville, TN, and Clayton, MO) and wonder whether your employer’s behavior is unlawful, we have the answers you need. Call us today at 901-737-7740 or contact us online to pursue your benefits and protect your rights.

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