Race Discrimination Attorney in Alabama
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race and color. Though the law has been in existence for more than half a century, tens of thousands of employees file charges racial discrimination each year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you believe you have been the victim of race discrimination in the workplace, you may have the right to compensation.
Since 2005, Attorney Kira Fonteneau has been an aggressive advocate on behalf of those who have suffered from employment discrimination. Attorney Fonteneau has extensive knowledge of this area of the law, and what it takes to ensure that race discrimination victims are justly compensated. Kira understands the hardship individuals face when an employer's race-based decisions adversely impact their livelihoods, and she puts her experience to work to hold employers who engage in such practices fully accountable.
Race and Color Discrimination in the Workplace
Race and color discrimination are similar, but there are some slight differences. According to the EEOC, race discrimination includes discrimination based on ancestry as well as physical or cultural characteristics of a certain race. These may include skin color, hair texture, and certain facial features. Color discrimination happens when an individual is singled out based on his/her skin pigmentation, complexion, shade, or tone (e.g., lightness or darkness of the skin). Color discrimination can occur between persons of different races or ethnicities, or persons of the same race or ethnicity. For example, an African-American employer may practice color discrimination if he/she refuses to hire other African-Americans whose skin tone is darker than theirs.
Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Section 1981)
Section 1981 prohibits discriminating based on race or color in the making of contracts. Employers are also prohibited from making employment decisions based on assumptions and stereotypes about the characteristics of members of certain races, ethnicities, and skin colors. Prohibitions extend to all areas of employment. Section 1981 applies to all employers and does not require a minimum of 15 employees. Lawsuits under Section 1981 are nearly identical to Title VII law suits but may be filed without first filing with the EEOC.
Title VII Race Discrimination Protections
Title VII prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating based on race or color. Employers are also prohibited from making employment decisions based on assumptions and stereotypes about the characteristics of members of certain races, ethnicity, and skin colors. Prohibitions extend to all areas of employment, including:
• Pre-Employment Requirements and Inquiries: Requesting information that discloses or may disclose the race or color of an employment applicant may be seen as racial discrimination. There are, however, certain types of information that an employer may legitimately require that may tend to disclose the race or color of an applicant. For example, an employer may need information about an applicant's race to track applicant flow and/or for affirmative action purposes. In such cases, the EEOC advises that employers use separate forms or otherwise keep the race of the applicant separate from the rest of his/her application.
• Recruitment and Hiring: Employers should not express any racial hiring preferences, and employment agencies are not allowed to honor the requests of employers to exclude persons of certain races or colors. Another practice employers should avoid is recruiting exclusively on word-of-mouth and/or recruiting from sources likely to produce only applicants of a particular race or color. Other potentially illegal hiring practices include requiring applicants to have a certain education or background that is not important to the job and/or requiring applicants to undergo testing that is not necessary for the job.
• Compensation: Under Title VII, race or color cannot be the basis for differences in pay, benefits, bonuses, or any other type of compensation.
• Promotion: Race and color should not be barriers to the success of any employee. These factors should not be used to deny a promotion, raise, bonus, or any other benefit that an employee has rightfully earned.
• Segregation and Employment Classification: Under Title VII, employers are not allowed to segregate minority employees by isolating them physically from other employees or customers. In addition, employers are not allowed to exclude minorities from certain positions and/or group or categorize positions so that they are held mainly by minorities.
• Harassment: Employees are protected under Title VII from being harassed on the job because of their race or skin color. Any race-based conduct by management or co-workers that creates a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment and/or interferes with an employee's work performance may be considered harassment. Examples include racial or ethnic slurs, jokes, derogatory or offensive comments, or physical assault.
• Retaliation: Employees have a right to be free from any type of retaliation for opposing racial discrimination at their place of employment, filing a race discrimination claim, or participating in an EEOC proceeding.
• Termination: An employee cannot be laid off or fired based solely on race or skin color.
Discrimination on the basis of race or color can come in many forms. Some are more open and obvious, while others are more subtle and difficult to detect. These are divided into two general categories:
• Disparate Treatment: When an employer intentionally singles out employees or applicants of a certain race or color for less favorable treatment, it is considered disparate treatment. One obvious example of disparate treatment would be promoting only those of a particular race or color to management positions and/or excluding those of a certain race or color for the same position. Other examples may include putting only those of a certain race or color in front of customers or requiring those of a certain race or color to be drug-tested.
• Disparate Impact: When an employer has a policy that appears to be neutral and is applied uniformly but the policy tends to adversely impact employees of a certain race or color more than other employees, it may be considered a disparate impact policy. For example, if an employer does not hire applicants with an arrest or conviction on their record, this policy might disproportionately impact African American and Latino males. Another example would be a minimum height requirement, which could disproportionately impact Asians and Latinos.
Speak to an Experienced Alabama Race Discrimination Lawyer
If you believe you have been the victim of racial discrimination, it is important to act sooner rather than later. Most employees have just 180 days to file an EEOC charges. Our office can help you write and file your Charge and guide you through the investigation process. Once you file a charge with the EEOC, they may investigate the claim, invite you to participate in mediation with your employer, issue a “right to sue” letter, or take another action. After you receive a “right to sue” letter, you can proceed with litigation against your employer.
Attorney Kira Fonteneau has a successful track record securing favorable outcomes for numerous victims of employment discrimination. She can fully assess your case and advise you of your options and the best legal strategy to obtain a positive result. For a personalized consultation with Attorney Fonteneau, contact our office today at (404) 383-5720.