We see instances of racism in the news in New Jersey and New York City, but we think such situations could never affect us until they do, especially in the workplace. Workplace discrimination is still a problem in the U.S. but there are rights workers have that address these distressing situations.
Racism in U.S. workplaces
One survey reports approximately one-third of Black workers reported being treated unfairly at work in 2020 due to their race. Over the past five years that number goes up to 42% for Black workers, 26% for Asian workers and 21% of Hispanic or Latino workers. To put things into prospective only 12% of white workers reported being discriminated at work over the past five years. The survey reports that racism costs U.S. businesses greatly — $54 billion is lost due to missed work and $59 billion is lost in productivity.
Racism and federal law
It is a violation of federal law to discriminate or harass workers based on their race. Race discrimination takes place when a worker is treated unfavorably due to their race. Discrimination can come at the hands of a person of the same race as the victim or of a different race as the victim. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on race in hiring, letting go, pay, work assignments, promotions, training, benefits offered and any other condition of employment.
Federal law also prohibits workplace harassment based on a worker’s race. Some examples of workplace harassment include racial slurs, derogatory remarks and displaying offensive symbols. Note that mere teasing, offhand remarks or one-time incidents that are not serious do not reach the level of unlawful harassment. The harassment must be so frequent or severe as to cause a hostile workplace or an adverse employment action. If you believe you are the victim of racial discrimination or harassment in the workplace you will want to research your rights so you can make decisions that are in your best interests.