What You Need to Know Before Filing a Race Discrimination Claim

October 19, 2015

Race discrimination is one of the most common forms of discrimination in the United States. In Fiscal Year 2013 there were 31,073 race discrimination claims filed, according to the EEOC. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made racial discrimination illegal, employers still, over 50 years later, continue to make employment decisions based on race, negatively affecting millions of workers across the country.

A study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2003, showed that job applicants with white sounding names were called back by employers at a higher rate than job applicants with black sounding names.

Similarly, as reported in KelloggInsight, a 2014 research study coauthored by Roland G. Fryer, Jr. of Harvard University and Devah Pager of Princeton University has found that black workers are offered on average 30% less than their white counterparts due to discrimination and are much more likely to accept these offers than their white peers. “’This is exactly what you would expect if blacks know that they’re being racially discriminated against,’” remarked Jörg Spenkuch, an assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at the Kellogg School of Management.

Facts You Should Know About Race Discrimination

  • The Law – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin
  • Relationships -The law prohibits discrimination against an individual based on the above traits but also prohibits discrimination based on an individuals association with someone of a different race, such as a spouse or a friend.
  • Application Questions About Race- Legally, an employer is allowed to ask your race during the application process. They must have legitimate reasons, such as for affirmative action. However, if they make a decision regarding employment based on the information you provide, they can be held liable for discrimination based on race.
  • Proving Your Case – Unless you have direct evidence such as an email from management telling hiring managers to stop hiring blacks and Hispanics for example, you need to prove a prima facie case.
  • Prima Facie – Prima facie literally means “on its face.” When you don’t have direct evidence you need to prove a prima facie case by showing that you:
    • Are a member of a protected class
    • Were qualified for the job in question
    • Were denied that job or a job benefit or were subjected to a negative job action
    • The person who received the job benefit was of a different race and you were equally qualified
  • Color vs. Race – Under the law color and race are viewed as separate things. Although they are both covered under Title VII, color refers to the skin shade, pigmentation or complexion. Race refers to skin color, hair texture or certain facial features.
  • Statute of Limitations – There is a 180-day statute of limitations on race discrimination cases. This means you only have 180 days from the last incident of discrimination to file your race discrimination claim with the EEOC.
  • Segregation – It is illegal for an employer to exclude minorities from a certain position or segregate minorities into certain positions so that only minorities hold those roles.

What Should You Do if You Think You are Being Discriminated Against?

If you think you are being discriminated against based on race, it is important that you speak with a lawyer who specializes in employment law. Because the statute of limitations on discrimination claims is only 180 days, you need to understand your rights, the viability of your case and your next steps as quickly as possible. A lawyer can help you determine these things and help you navigate the complex legal arena. When dealing with race discrimination at work you should:

  • Be sure to document and write down as much information as possible regarding the incident(s). Include the date, time, people involved, what was said by all parties, location, and any other pertinent information.
  • Contact a lawyer.
  • File a race discrimination complaint with the EEOC.

At Sherman Law we have been protecting workers rights for over 22 years. Contact us today for a free consultation, where we will discuss the details of your case and help you determine next steps.