Race Discrimination

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Racial discrimination refers to the practice of treating individuals differently because of their race or color. Federal law prohibits race discrimination in the workplace and incidents of race discrimination can take many forms, in the workplace particularly, race discrimination can be hard to identify. For more information about race discrimination read below.

1. What is race discrimination?

2. Which federal law covers race discrimination?

3. Who is protected under the law?

4. How does Title VII protect against discrimination?

5. Can I be discriminated against because my spouse and friends are of different races?

6. Can I be discriminated against because of the color of my skin?

7. Can I be discriminated against by someone of the same race as me?

8. Are racial jokes or slurs against the law?

9. What is reverse discrimination and is it covered under Title VII?

10. Can I be assigned to a particular kind of job, or to a certain neighborhood or territory because of my race?

11. Can a job application ask me to identify my race?

12. Can employers use testing or implement a policy that affects one race more than another?

13. Is race ever a qualification for a certain job?

14. What about policies that affect one race more than another, do they constitute discrimination?

15. My company has an affirmative action plan. How can this affect me?

16. What is the difference between race discrimination and racial harassment?

17. What if I don't have direct evidence of race discrimination, do I lose my case?

18. Who enforces the law?

19. What are the remedies available to me?

20. How can I file a complaint?

21. More Information about Race Discrimination

1. What is race discrimination?

Racial discrimination occurs when an individual is treated differently based upon their actual or perceived race. Race discrimination also encompasses discrimination based upon skin color. Though race and color are related concepts, the two are not synonymous. Color generally refers to discrimination based upon one's pigmentation, complexion, or skin shade or tone. Color discrimination occurs when someone is discriminated against based on the lightness, darkness, or other color characteristic. Color discrimination can occur between persons of different races or ethnicities, or between persons of the same race or ethnicity. Regulation that prevents race discrimination also prohibits discrimination based upon stereotypes, assumptions about abilities, traits or the performance of individuals of certain racial groups.

Race discrimination can also occur if an individual is treated differently based upon their association with members of another race. Such discrimination can occur directly, such as when an employer intentionally targets a member of a racial group or indirectly, for example when a seemingly neutral job policy tends to exclude minorities for a reason that is not job related.

If you have experienced any of the following situations, you may be a victim of race discrimination:

The examples listed above are not an exhaustive list, but do illustrate the general elements of race discrimination.

2. Which federal law covers race discrimination?

Title VIIof the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that protects individuals from discrimination in employment based on race. Title VII makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against individuals because of their race in hiring, firing, discipline, distribution of benefits, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment.The laws of most states also prohibit discrimination based on race. For more information, see question 16 below.

3. Who is protected under the law?

Title VII covers all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions that employ 15 or more individuals. Title VII also covers private and public employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor management committees controlling apprenticeship and training.

Many states also make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race. For more information, please see our page on the minimum number of employees needed to file a claim under your state law.

Anti-discrimination protections apply to job applicants as well as current workers. If you are a current employee and are fired, not promoted, or paid at a lower rate, you are protected under the law. If you are not hired because of your race, you are also protected.

4. How does Title VII protect against discrimination?

Title VII protects people from different types of race discrimination. There are two broad types of racial discrimination: