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Race Discrimination at Work

Tags:  Cultural differences, Discrimination

All employees in the U.S. are protected against discrimination on the basis of race or color as well as national origin, sex and gender and religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In the case of race and color this includes discrimination based on your racial group or perceived racial group, racial characteristics (i.e. facial features), or because of your marriage to or association with someone of a particular race or color.
Yet according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) http://www.eeoc.gov/types/race.html, over 27 thousand charges of race discrimination were filed in 2006 alone.
In a 2002 survey by Rutgers University's Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, 28 percent of African Americans and 22 percent of Hispanics said they endured unfair treatment at work because of race. In fact 28 percent of minority workers stated they had been passed over for promotions and 16 percent say they have been subjected to racist remarks.  
Even though it is illegal to discriminate against anyone with regard to recruiting, hiring, promotion, transfer, job training or any other term or condition of employment, there are still issues.
While many people of color have made strides in Corporate America, just as many -- or more -- have been left behind. Unfortunately, the majority of senior and mid-level managers in most companies are still white males. And even if non-white employees are able to climb a rung or two up the corporate ladder, they are very often regarded as outspoken, defiant and quick to blame management – aka white males – for their problems.
According to a November 2006 article from the Associated Press, ""White households had incomes that were two-thirds higher than blacks and 40 percent higher than Hispanics last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. White adults were also more likely than black and Hispanic adults to have college degrees and to own their own homes. They were less likely to live in poverty.""
Just like with any form of discrimination you want to be sure to take whatever steps are necessary to assert your rights under the law.
If you are an employee and feel you are being discriminated against, you should:
  • Make sure discrimination is really taking place and that there are no other reasons why you have been passed over for promotion or are not getting the best assignments. Could it be a personality conflict or another issue?
  • Keep notes of everything that happens. Be sure to include what, when, where, and who was present. Keep detailed information on any and all incidents even if they seem minor.
  • Begin internally. Follow your employer's grievance procedure. This probably means first speaking with your boss, then your boss's boss and eventually the human resources department.
  • Take external action. If you do not feel your complaint has been properly resolved within the time frame established within the company's internal processes, you have a right to file your complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
It is not easy going up against your employer with a claim of discrimination, and even though the information is supposed to be kept confidential and no retaliation against you can legally take place, people will be people. On the other hand, laws were created to protect everyone. So avail yourself of your rights.

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