The law states that we are all born equal and must be treated equally. However, a vast number of cases that relate to racial discrimination in the workplace paint another picture, unfortunately a darker one.
Profiling humans in different racial categories is a practice as old as time itself. To be racially discriminative is to consciously or unconsciously undermine people who belong to different ethnic or national origins, and ‘other color’.
The passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 was deemed as a way forward in the history of United States of America, as it guaranteed civil rights and prohibition of racial discrimination. However, the sad reality is that racial discrimination has not ceased in thought or action, just grown more subtle and evasive to catch.
Discriminating people on the basis of their race or origins is not restricted to U.S. or other developed nations alone, this practice is also prevalent in most developing as well as poor nations.
Ethnic cleansing is a step beyond racial discrimination, it is racial abuse. Besides education and medical care, racial discrimination is most visible, with negative profiling and prejudice at its best.
Racial Discrimination at Work
When education and a universal approach do not transcend fears and prejudices instilled at early ages, they get carried forward into most spheres of our life, where the workplace is one such sphere. As the markets move towards a global environment, it becomes difficult for any organization to stay purely local.
Talent and education see no boundaries, hence one will find people of different race and ethnicity working under one roof. To protect the rights of a minority race, different laws and statutes have been brought to fore.
It is important for all employees, irrespective of their race or even sex, to know what the law says about racial discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- This act is laid under the banner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, to protect an employee’s rights in regards to employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion.
- It clearly states that it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee for the purpose of employment, work assignments, promotion, performance evaluations, job training, discipline or discharge, compensation and termination.
- Stereotyping or profiling an employee’s abilities, traits, or performance on the basis of his/her race is also deemed unlawful.
- Even an individual’s right to belief that stems from their race cannot be held against them during a course of employment.
- This act also brings racial harassment on the basis of race and/or color under its preview. Unlawful harassment includes ethnic slurs, racial jokes and symbols, offensive or derogatory comments, or physical intimidation and/or physical isolation or segregation.
- Creating a hostile or offensive work environment wherein an employee feels victimized and suffers severe emotional and economic distress is also not acceptable by the law.
- The law has many more features that can enable a victim of racial discrimination to look for legal recourse.
- Almost all countries have laws and acts in place to reduce the incidence of racial discrimination in the workplace, and provide the victim with means to fight back.
What you must Do
- As an employee if you feel that you are facing racial discrimination in the workplace, take action immediately.
- Handling this issue includes reporting against a racial action. If it is a co-worker or your boss victimizing you, report it to your supervisor, or to a higher authority respectively.
- Collect substantial evidence in effect to your discrimination. There are many human rights group that will assist you with the right information and the action against such a form of discrimination.
Employees need to know their rights and guard them as racial discrimination in most places is subtle and systematic, with means to get around public policy and adversely target racial minorities. The criminal justice system has equipped a wronged employee to take legal refuge, use it, it could be a long battle but will send out a strong message.