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Racial discrimination in the workplace is often subtle -- but still illegal

Some people -- perhaps young adults in particular -- find it surprising that racial discrimination still happens in the workplace, but race-based discrimination is unfortunately still a reality.

In many cases, the discrimination may not be obvious. Instead, it happens in subtle ways that the violator may try to explain away, claiming innocence. However, if you dig deeper, you may discover that the explanations simply don't hold water.

What does federal law say about discrimination?

Under federal law, employers cannot take the following actions based on a person's race:

  • Paying an employee less than other employees get paid
  • Refusing to hire a qualified individual
  • Disciplining or firing an employee
  • Segregating or classifying employees

Race-based discrimination may also take the form of failing to provide the same opportunities, benefits and promotions to all employees. Texas also has its own anti-discrimination laws. If the evidence suggests that a prospective or current employer uses race to substantiate any of the above actions, the employee may want to consider filing a discrimination claim.

Uncovering evidence of discrimination

If you didn't get a job or a promotion and suspect that your employer or prospective employer passed you over on the basis of your race or ethnicity, the success of your discrimination claim will depend on evidence of what you may already know. Certain actions taken by employers could provide evidence of discrimination:

  • Giving a less qualified person the position
  • Promoting a less qualified person
  • Consistently hiring and promoting individuals of a certain race

You may also find that the company doesn't have a legitimate business reason for making certain hiring and promotion choices. If that's the case, you could be the victim of discrimination.

Where to seek support

As an employee, you have a right not to be discriminated against on the basis of your race or ethnicity, and you might consider discussing your situation with an employment law attorney. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for what you have been through.

If you are an employer and you discover that those working for you discriminated against an employee based on his or her race, it is important that you take appropriate action to remedy the situation. You may also want to make sure that your policies, procedures and training emphasize that any type of discrimination, including race-based discrimination, make it clear that you won't tolerate that behavior.

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