Have you experienced race discrimination in the workplace? Being unfairly treated based on race can be a humiliating and infuriating experience. If you don’t address the problem, it may escalate and lead to a hostile work environment. Whether it’s discriminatory hiring practices or racist comments, getting legal advice may help your situation.

Racial discrimination in the workplace involves someone you work with treating you unfairly based on your race. It can also apply to them treating you unfavorably based on personal traits that are typically associated with your race. This includes your hair type, facial features, and the color of your skin. 

You may also file a claim for racial discrimination if you are encountering harassment due to be being associated with someone of a certain color or race. Associations include being married to someone in that category. It also involves having a connection to a race-based organization or a group that’s commonly associated with a certain color or race.

General Discrimination Employment Laws in Arizona

The majority of non-government businesses in Arizona have to comply with municipal, state-wide, and nation-wide laws on discrimination. Federal and state laws forbid discrimination in the workplace on the basis of:

  • Age
  • Color
  • Race
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Medical situation
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability (physical or mental)

Discrimination based on veteran status, family medical leave, and pregnancy is also illegal. This applies to any aspect of employment, such as hiring, firing, promotions, training, and assigning or receiving benefits.

Even if a practice or policy applies to every employee, it may still be illegal if it impacts a certain racial group in particular. Tucson and Phoenix prohibit discrimination based on marital status, gender identity, and sexual orientation. In Tucson, discrimination based on familial status is also illegal. An example of workplace inequality would be refusing to promote someone because of their race.

Employers with less than 15 employees might not be subject to the same discrimination laws as larger businesses. And certain towns or cities have specific local laws that prohibit other types of discrimination. For specific information on the laws in your area, check with the local equal employment opportunity headquarters where you live. 

Examples of Race Discrimination at Work

Racial discrimination can happen even if the aggressor and the victim are the same color or race. The harasser may be your colleague, manager, or even a customer or client. It can be difficult to know what qualifies as racial discrimination at work. Here are some examples:

  • Using racial slurs
  • Making racist jokes
  • Singing racist song lyrics
  • Creating or sharing racist cartoons
  • Racist paraphernalia (such as swastikas)

Your employer should respond to complaints of race discrimination as soon as possible. They can avoid liability by ensuring that offensive conduct doesn’t occur more than once or escalate beyond simple teasing. When the harassment becomes severe or results in a hostile work environment, you may have grounds to file a race discrimination claim.

What Should You Do in the Face of Discrimination?

Employees who experience race discrimination should speak with an employment law attorney as soon as possible. If you believe you’ve been subjected to employment discrimination, you may also file a charge with:

The ACRD

The Arizona Civil Rights Division protects people from discrimination based on disabilities, religion, national origin, color, race, and more. You must file your charge with the ACRD within 180 days of the alleged harassment.

The EEOC

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces and administers civil rights laws against discrimination in the workplace. You must file your claim at the EEOC within 180 or 300 days from the discriminatory incident (depending on the case).

Once you file your charge, the agency will typically conduct an investigation at no cost to you. They will then determine “Cause” or “No Cause.” Regardless of its findings, the agency will usually issue you a “right to sue” letter after filing the complaint. Once you receive this letter, you have 90 days to file a civil suit (if you wish to do so).

Systemic Discrimination in the Workplace

Systemic discrimination refers to a practice, pattern, class case, or policy where alleged discrimination broadly impacts a geographic area, industry, specific company, or industry. The EEOC aims to partner with federal and state agencies, advocacy groups, and employer groups to work on addressing discriminatory practices. 

The agency encourages Arizona employers to look carefully at their practices of recruitment, hiring, and training to prevent discrimination.

Systemic Practice Examples

The EEOC aims to eradicate workplace discrimination with a strong, nationwide program. The organization identifies and investigates systemic discrimination cases and educates employers to promote discrimination prevention. Here are some examples of systemic practices to be aware of:

  • Discriminatory barriers in the hiring or recruitment process.
  • Discriminatory restrictions to high level jobs or management training programs.
  • Excluding qualified women from typically male-dominated professions.
  • Disability discrimination like unlawful pre-employment questions.
  • Age discrimination such as restricting retirement benefits.
  • Complying with customer preferences involving discriminatory assignments.

Discrimination and Retaliation Protection

The law protects you, as an employee, from receiving retaliation at work due to complaining about discrimination. Protected activity may also include asserting your legally protected rights or being part of an investigation into discrimination. Employees who report wrongful conduct by their employer to the appropriate authority within or outside of the company may also receive protection as a “whistle blower.”

A whistle blower is an individual who exposes unethical, incorrect, or illegal activity or information within a public or private organization. If you’re a government employee, you may be subject to special whistle blower rules.

Need Help with Racial Discrimination at Work in Arizona?

If someone at your job discriminated against you because of your race, it’s important to seek legal help by contacting an attorney as soon as you can. A legal professional can assist you in determining whether the activity counts as discrimination and what to do about it. 

Since there are relatively short time limits for filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you should contact us as soon as possible.

Call our Employment Law team at (480) 464-1111 to discuss your case today.

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