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Race Discrimination Continues to Affect American Workers

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Nov 01, 2013 | 0 Comments

Race Discrimination Continues to Affect American Workers

As a society that's become more accepting of different races and cultures, it's naturally assumed that the corporate world has followed the trend, giving everyone equal footing when it comes to hiring, promotion and compensation.

Yet, studies show race discrimination continues to be a deciding factor in employment decisions. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly “forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, trading, fringe benefits, and any other term or conditions of employment.” However, in 2012, 33,512 claims of race discrimination were filed with the EEOC – a number that remains steady when compared to past years.

In addition, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that when a black-sounding name was listed on a resume, that applicant received fewer job callbacks – 50 percent fewer than white applicants with the same experience. An EEOC study also found that among African-Americans employed by the federal government, 56 percent felt there was a moderate to great level of discrimination in their workplace, and 50 percent believed their supervisors were reluctant to promote minorities.

While the majority of race discrimination claims are filed on behalf of African-Americans, discrimination can affect anyone, regardless of race or nationality. Some recent cases include:

  • In September 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor ordered Bank of America to pay $2.2 million in remedies after a judge found that the company discriminated against more than 1,100 African-American job applicants between 1993 and 2005. The judge also said that Bank of America must offer jobs to 10 of the former job-seekers when the appropriate positions were available.
  • During the same month, the EEOC filed suit on behalf of three Asian-American employees against Farmers Insurance Exchange. The claim states that when the company's Fresno office had problems with improper coding, only the Asian-Americans were terminated while coworkers of other races were able to keep their jobs. Another Asian-American was fired in retaliation for participating in the EEOC's investigation.
  • In St. Louis, a white police sergeant was awarded $620,000 in a reverse race discrimination case after he was passed over for a leadership post at the Policy Academy because, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the higher-ups in the Academy “wanted a black woman and wanted to ‘bring color down to the academy.'”

While many believe race discrimination in the workplace is a thing of the past and that companies are following the law, it's evident that businesses and their management are still in violation of Title VII. If you feel you have been discriminated against, it's important to keep records of the incidents, report the issues to upper management and your HR department, and if the condition is not resolved, contact an experienced employment lawyer in order to file a claim with the EEOC.

Overall, discrimination claims cost corporate America $64 billion annually and American workers their dignity. It's important that businesses put their biases behind them and instead recognize applicants and employees for their strengths and accomplishments.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany who helps potential clients understand the law, clarify their rights, and determine which steps they can take to protect themselves and their jobs.


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