Racial Discrimination

It is illegal under both Federal and State Law to discriminate in the "terms or conditions of employment" on the Basis of a person's race or color.

"Terms or conditions of employment" means just about anything relating to someone's job: their position, pay, title, hours, vacations, most everything is a term or condition of employment. Whether or not a person is hired is also considered a term or condition of employment.

Race is generally defined as a person's ancestry or ethnic characteristics. Everyone is some race or color. This means that it is illegal to discriminate against anyone, if the basis is their race or color.

Employment race discrimination in the workplace based on association with people of a particular race is also prohibited. For instance, if an employer fired a white employee because she had black friends, or was dating a black man, the white woman would have a discrimination suit, whether or not the employer is prejudiced against whites.

It is also illegal to discriminate on the basis of "color". In one case, an employer hired a "light-complexioned" black applicant with "Caucasian features" over another black applicant who had a "dark complexion" and "Negroid features". This was also against the law, even though in a strict sense one race wasn't being preferred over another.

There are two types of race discrimination in the workplace: "disparate treatment" and "disparate impact".

Disparate Treatment, Race Discrimination In The Workplace

"Disparate treatment" is straightforward discrimination. Simply put, it is treating a person differently because of a protected class, like sex or race.

Disparate Impact, Discrimination In The Workplace

Disparate Impact Discrimination is more complicated. "Disparate Impact" is where some type of company policy excluded a certain individual or individuals from the job or from promotions. The policy wasn't designed to exclude them; that was just the unfortunate result.

One example arose often in fire departments. These agencies had various strength requirements for job applicants. Women were frequently unable to meet these requirements. In some instances, the requirements were absolutely necessary to ensure the firefighters were qualified. But in many instances, the requirements were simply too high; the were more than was necessary. Qualified women were therefore being excluded unnecessarily. This does not mean the fire departments were necessarily trying to exclude women. That was just the result of their policy; it had a disparate impact upon women. Because the policy wasn't sufficiently job-related (too much strength was required) there was discrimination.

Further Information