Workplace Rights

Weekly (2/15/21)

Topic of the Week  Race Discrimination

Racial discrimination refers to the practice of treating individuals differently because of their race or color. Federal law prohibits race discrimination in the workplace and incidents of race discrimination can take many forms, in the workplace particularly, race discrimination can be hard to identify. 

1. Can I be assigned to a particular kind of job, or to a certain neighborhood or territory because of my race?

It is against the law to limit, segregate, or classify employees or applicants for employment based on race in any way that could deprive them of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect their employment status.

It is a violation of Title VII if employees of a certain race or races are segregated by being physically isolated from other employees or customer contact. Title VII also prohibits assigning primarily minorities to predominantly minority establishments or geographic areas. It is illegal to exclude minorities from certain positions or to group or categorize employees or jobs so that minority workers generally hold certain jobs, or because of a belief that they should do so.

Consequently, an assignment or placement selected because of your race that segregates you or negatively affects your pay, status in the company, or ability to advance would be against the law. Yet, an assignment made for legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons that do not negatively affect or segregate you would not be illegal.

2. What is the difference between race discrimination and racial harassment?

Racial harassment is a form of race discrimination, and that is a violation of Title VII. Although Title VII does not specifically use the words “racial harassment,” courts have held that racial harassment is race discrimination and thus violates the law.

As noted throughout this fact sheet, there are many forms of race discrimination that are not racial harassment, such as discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions or benefits, pay discrimination, and racial stereotyping.

3. Is race ever a qualification for a certain job?

Yes, in very limited circumstances. Title VII makes an exception when age is an essential part of a particular job – also known by the legal term "bona fide occupational qualification" or BFOQ.

Example: If a company hires an actor to play the role of an African-American father, being African-American is a necessary part of the job or a BFOQ. However, an employer who claims a BFOQ exists for a particular job must be able to prove a person of a certain race is required because a worker's ability to do the job is actually diminished if he or she is not a member of that race.

Thought of the Week

"We are all one. And if we don’t know it, we will learn it the hard way."

–Bayard Rustin | American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, nonviolence, and gay rights.

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Center For American Progress

    Undocumented Immigrants in the Food Supply Chain

    Economic and fiscal contributions

    • Each year, these undocumented workers and their households pay $13.3 billion in federal tax contributions and $7.8 billion in state and local taxes. These households hold $60.6 billion in spending power.
    • These workers’ employers annually contribute payroll taxes totaling $3.5 billion to buoy Social Security and Medicare.
    • Undocumented immigrants working in the food supply chain own 328,000 homes, paying $3 billion in mortgage payments and $10.6 billion in rental payments annually


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