Race and Color Discrimination

Employment Discrimination Lawyers Serving the Atlanta Metro Area

Racial discrimination in the workplace is a serious matter that can harm both the employee and the employer. The attorneys at Mays & Kerr have focused their practice on employment law. We have the experience and knowledge to handle any type of discrimination issue. If you have concerns about racial discrimination in the workplace, you need the advice of an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination attorney.

Race and Color Discrimination

Race and color discrimination is the most commonly reported form of discrimination in the United States. In fiscal year 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 33,068 charges of race discrimination, representing 33.6 percent of the total charges received. The EEOC also received 3,146 charges of color discrimination, representing 3.4% of the total.

Illegality of Race and Color Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of the person’s race or color. Employers may not fail or refuse to hire a person because of his or her race or color, nor may they discharge employees for those reasons. Furthermore, employers may not deprive employees or applicants of employment opportunities or adversely affect their status by limiting, segregating, or classifying them due to race or color.

Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination involves treating a person unfavorably because of race or characteristics associated with race. While usually based on the employee’s race, racial discrimination may also be based on the employee’s association with members of a particular race or affiliation with race-based organizations.

  • Potential discriminatory practices include:
  • Not interviewing or hiring qualified candidates of a particular race
  • Providing different compensation or benefits to employees of different races
  • Assigning work based on race
  • Disciplining employees of different races differently for similar behavior
  • Allowing race-based harassment that creates a hostile or offensive work environment
  • Segregating racial minorities by assigning them to areas without customer contact
Discrimination Based on Color

Discrimination based on color is also specifically prohibited by Title VII. Color discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfavorably based on complexion or skin tone. Although there is often an overlap between color and race discrimination, color discrimination frequently occurs when members of the same race are treated differently based upon their skin color.

Harassment

The law prohibits race or color-based harassment that results in a hostile or offensive work environment or an adverse employment decision. An employer may be liable for harassment that leads a hostile work environment when the harassment comes from a supervisor, co-worker, or even a customer, client, or vendor.

The employer is only liable for harassment by a co-worker if the employer was negligent in failing to control the working conditions. The employer is strictly liable for harassment by a supervisor if a tangible employment action occurred. When the employee is harassed by a supervisor but does not suffer a tangible employment action, the employer may raise an affirmative defense that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct the harassment, but the plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of those opportunities.

Disparate Impact

Discrimination may also occur when a facially neutral policy has a disparate impact on employees of a particular race or color. Pursuant to Title VII, the employee must show that the practice in question causes a disparate impact on the basis of race or color. The burden then shifts to the employer to show that the practice is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Even if the employer articulates a job-related business reason for the policy, the plaintiff may still be able to recover if he or she can show that the stated reason was merely a pretext.

Multiple Laws

In addition to Title VII, there are other federal and state laws that may give rise to discrimination claims, including 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Available damages are different depending on the law that forms the basis of the claim. An employee should act very quickly in seeking representation to ensure that legal remedies remain available, because the laws impose different time limits, including a 180 day time-frame to file a charge with the EEOC under Title VII.

Working for You

The Atlanta race and color discrimination lawyers at Mays & Kerr have a deep understanding of Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws. We have helped numerous clients resolve issues related to discrimination in the workplace. Whether you are an employee who has suffered discrimination or an employer seeking to ensure your policies are appropriate, we have the knowledge and skills to assist you. Call us at 1-877-986-5529 or contact us online today to schedule an appointment.