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Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Racial discrimination is also common in some California workplaces. Here's how you should report it and how to find the best California attorney for racial discrimination.

California Employee Discrimination Lawyer

California Workplace Discrimination Based On Skin Color Or Race

Race discrimination in the workplace entails unfavorably treating someone an applicant or employee) because they are of a certain race or because of race-related personal characteristics (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). It can incite harassment and employment problems for the target employee.

You should immediately request a referral to a California Employment Attorney from a California Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service and be instantly connected to a California Discrimination Lawyer.

  • Race/Color Discrimination & Job Situation: When it comes to every type of jobs, including recruiting, firing, compensation, work assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, and any other word or condition of employment, the law prohibits discrimination in the workplace.

  • Discrimination & abuse by race/color: Harassing a person because of the race or color of that person is unlawful. Harassment may include, for example, racial slurs, insulting or derogatory comments about the race or color of an individual, or the display of symbols that are racially offensive.

    • Although simple joking, offhand remarks, or isolated events that are not very serious are not prohibited by the law, harassment is illegal when it is so regular or extreme that it produces a hostile or offensive work atmosphere or when it results in an adverse job decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser may be the boss of the victim, a supervisor in another field, a co-worker, or someone else in the workplace, who is not an employee of the employer.

  • Employment Discrimination Policies/Practices in California: An employment policy or practice that extends to all, irrespective of race or color, can be unconstitutional if it has a negative effect on the employment of individuals of a specific race or color and is not work-related and appropriate for the organization to function.

    • For example, whether it is not job-related and has a negative effect on the jobs of African-American men, a no-beard" employment policy that extends to all employees without regard to race can still be unlawful (who have a predisposition to a skin condition that causes severe shaving bumps).

  • Employment Discrimination Based On Race or Color Skin Color: Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects people from employment discrimination based on race and skin color as well as national origin, sex, or religion as regards employment. In relation to hiring, firing, promotion, salary, work training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment, it is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or job applicant because of race or color.

    • Title VII also forbids decisions on jobs based on prejudices and perceptions about the skills, attributes, or results of individuals belonging to such ethnic groups.

    • Title VII forbids both intentional discrimination and neutral employment practices that exclude minorities unfairly and are not work-related.

    • Equal opportunity for jobs should not be refused because of marriage to or affiliation with a person of another race; membership in or association with ethnic organizations or groups; attendance or involvement in schools or places of worship usually associated with certain minority groups; or other cultural traditions or characteristics frequently associated with race or ethnicity.

  • Race-Related Characteristics and Conditions: Employment discrimination on the basis of an immutable race-related trait, such as skin color, hair texture, or certain facial features, is contrary to Title VII, even though not all members of the race have the same feature.

    • Title VII also forbids discrimination based on disability that affects one race disproportionately, unless the activity is job-related and compatible with business needs.

    • For instance, because sickle cell anemia occurs mainly in African-Americans, a policy that excludes people with sickle cell anemia is considered employment discriminatory unless the policy is work-related and compatible with business needs.

    • Similarly, a no-beard" employment policy can discriminate against African-American men who are predisposed to conditions such as pseudofolliculitis barbae (severe shaving bumps) unless the policy is job-related and compatible with the need for business.

That said, if you've suffered discrimination and harassment, you should contact a prescreened Employment Discrimination Attorney in Los Angeles ASAP. Doing so ensures great chances of filing claims and fighting for your labor rights.

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Facts About Employee Discrimination Based on Skin Color

They are not interchangeable, even though race and color obviously overlap. Color discrimination may also take place between individuals of different races or ethnicities, or between individuals of the same race or ethnicity. Although Title VII does not describe "color in order to provide its generally understood sense, the courts and the Commission read "color" - as pigmentation, complexion, or shade or tone of the skin.

Color discrimination, therefore, occurs when a person is discriminated against on the basis of the individual's lightness, darkness, or other color characteristics. Title VII forbids employee discrimination of race or color against all people, including Caucasians.

While a claimant can by direct or circumstantial evidence, prove a claim of discrimination, certain courts take the view that if a white individual relies on circumstantial evidence to make a claim of reverse employee discrimination, he or she must comply with an increased standard of proof. In comparison, the Commission applies the same standard of proof to all cases of racial discrimination, irrespective of the race of the claimant or the type of evidence used. In any circumstance, the sole duty of persuasion still rests on the complainant.

Employers should follow best practices to reduce the probability of employee discrimination in California and to overcome impediments to equal employment opportunities. Contact a Los Angeles Workplace Discrimination Attorney to help you.

California Employee Rights of Title VII

Recruiting, Recruiting, and Promotion

Job criteria for people of all races and colors must be enforced equally and regularly. Even if a job requirement is enforced consistently, if it is not important for job efficiency or employment needs, the requirement may be considered unlawful if it excludes individuals of a certain ethnic group or color substantially more than others.

Examples of potentially unethical activities include: (1) requesting applications only from sources where all or most prospective workers are of the same race or color; (2) requiring applicants to have a certain educational background that is not necessary for job performance or business needs; (3) checking applicants for expertise, abilities or skills that are not important for job performance or business needs.

Employers may reasonably need information about their employees or applicants for the purposes of affirmative action and/or to monitor the flow of applicants. For employers to use different forms or otherwise keep the details about the race of an individual separate from the application, is one way to collect racial information and simultaneously guard against discriminatory selection. The employer can collect the data it wants in this way, but ensure that it is not included in the selection decision.

Unless the data is for such a valid reason, race pre-employment questions which imply that race will be used as a basis for hiring decisions to be made. Where the information in the selection decision is used and members of specific racial groups are excluded from jobs, investigations which constitute proof of employee discrimination.

Compensation and other terms, conditions, and privileges for jobs

Title VII forbids employment discrimination in terms of wages and other terms, conditions, and job rights.

Thus, discrimination based on race or color may not be the reason for disparities in pay or benefits, job assignments, performance reviews, training, discipline or discharge, or any other field of employment.


Title VII is violated by harassment based on race and/or color. Ethnic slurs, racial 'jokes,' insulting or degrading remarks, or other verbal or physical actions based on the race/color of an individual constitutes unlawful harassment if the behavior makes hostile, intimidating or otherwise offensive working environment that interferes with the job performance of the individual.


Employees in California have the right to be free from retribution by filing a charge, testifying, supporting or otherwise engaging in an agency proceeding for their opposition to employment discrimination or their involvement in an EEOC proceeding.

Segregation and employee classification

Where minority workers are separated by physically isolating them from other staff or from customer interaction, Title VII is violated. Title VII also forbids the assignment of mainly minority establishments or geographic areas to predominantly minority establishments. It is also unconstitutional for minorities to be removed from certain positions or to group or categorize workers or jobs in such a way that minorities usually hold certain jobs.

Title VII also does not provide for racially motivated business-related decisions, such as concerns about the impact on employee relations, or the negative reaction of consumers or customers. Nor may a bona fide occupational qualification under Title VII ever be race or color.

Coding applications/resumes by either an employer or an employment agency to designate the race of an individual constitutes proof of employment discrimination where minorities are excluded from employment or from certain roles. Such discriminatory coding requires the use of terms of facially benign code that include ethnicity, such as area codes where many ethnic minorities may reside or are assumed to live.

california employee discrimination attorney

Inquiries and conditions for Pre-Employment

Requesting pre-employment data that discloses or appears to reveal the race of an individual implies the race would be used illegally as a recruiting basis. It is believed that requesting such pre-employment information is used as a basis for making hiring decisions. Therefore if members of minority groups are disqualified from jobs, it will certainly be proof of discrimination in the workplace to request such pre-employment records.

Employers may, however, reasonably need information about the ethnicity of their workers or applicants for affirmative action purposes and/or to monitor the flow of applicants. One way of collecting racial information and protecting against unfair selection at the same time is for employers to use "tear-off sheets" to classify the race of an applicant. The employer removes the tear-off sheet from the application after the applicant completes the application and the tear-off part and does not include it in the selection process.

Personal criminal background checks, and other pre-employment information requests which reveal or appear to disclose the race of an applicant. The use of criminal information by employers as a basis for making hiring decisions is not categorically prohibited by Title VII. In certain cases, the use of criminal records as a work check can be permissible, legitimate, and even mandated. Employers who use criminal records to search for jobs, however, must comply with the nondiscrimination provisions of Title VII.

How To Report Racial Employment Discrimination To A Workplace Lawyer In Los Angeles

You should immediately consult with a pre-screened Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles with experience in California labor law.

  1. You can submit a request online 24 hours a day. Free case review within 15 minutes.

  2. By chat, you'll be connected with a California Discrimination Lawyer for Racial Discrimination within 5 minutes.

  3. By calling the 24-hour lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999

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