Hostile Work Environment Based on Race

Racial Discrimination Attorneys Representing Atlanta Clients

Many people think of sexual harassment when they hear the phrase “hostile work environment,” but other types of harassment are illegal as well. Like sexual harassment, harassment based on race can easily lead to a workplace atmosphere that is intimidating, hostile, or abusive. The racial discrimination lawyers at Mays & Kerr have focused our Atlanta practice on employment law. We understand the law related to all types of harassment and hostile work environment cases. If you have a concern related to discrimination in your workplace, we can help you.

Hostile Work Environment Claims Based on Race

Workplace discrimination based on an employee’s race is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Racial discrimination claims, including those based on harassment, may also sometimes be brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1866, codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Such § 1981 actions may allow for additional damages that are not available under Title VII, including pain and suffering.

Title VII does not protect employees from all teasing or offensive conduct, but it does protect them from conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it causes a hostile, abusive, or intimidating work environment. Harassment is also prohibited when the worker’s continued employment is dependent upon the worker enduring the unwelcome conduct.

The employee’s supervisor, another supervisor, co-workers, or even non-employees may engage in conduct that leads to a hostile work environment. Such conduct may become pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment because multiple people are involved in the behavior. A hostile work environment may arise, for example, when an employer accommodates a customer’s request not to be served by members of a particular race.

Although harassment may be directed at a particular employee, other employees may be affected by the resulting hostile work environment. A worker who is affected by the conduct, even if not the direct target of the harassment, may be entitled to pursue a claim.

A hostile work environment based on race can be created by the actions of members of the same race as the employee. Employers have been held liable for race-based hostile work environments created by the actions of supervisors of the same race as the plaintiffs.

Employer Liability for Workplace Harassment

The employer’s liability for harassment based on race depends upon the role of the person or persons engaged in the illegal conduct. If the harassment is by a supervisor and results in a negative employment action, the employer is liable. If a supervisor’s harassment of an employee leads to a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can show that it used reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the harassing conduct and that the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the preventive and corrective opportunities provided by the employer. When a non-supervisory employee or a non-employee whom the employer controls is responsible for the harassment, the employer can be held liable only if the employer either knew or should have known about the offensive conduct and failed to take corrective action.

In a discrimination action based on hostile work environment, available remedies may include reinstatement, back pay, front pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and even an injunction enjoining the harassment. The specific remedies available in a particular case will be based upon the facts of the case and the damages the employee has suffered.

Seek Advice from a Georgia Employment Discrimination Lawyer

The Atlanta hostile work environment attorneys at Mays & Kerr have a thorough understanding of the law related to hostile work environment cases. If you have a concern related to a hostile work environment based on race, call us at 1-877-986-5529 or contact us online. We will listen to the specific details of your situation and evaluate whether you have a claim. If you do, we will help you pursue a solution that meets your needs and compensates you for the discrimination that you endured at your job.