When employers discriminate against an employee based on that employee’s race or national origin, they violate both the employee’s rights in the workplace and the law.
If you have faced discrimination in the workplace, a race discrimination lawyer in Charlotte at Stephan Zouras, LLP can help hold your employer accountable: 704-612-0038.
What is racial discrimination?
Under federal and state law, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee in any aspect of employment based on national origin. Some examples of racial employment discrimination include:
- An employer rejects a job applicant based on her national origin.
- An employer fires an employee based on his national origin
- An employer gives one employee more work assignments than another due to that employee’s national origin.
- An employer turns down an employee for a promotion based on the employee’s national origin.
- An employee receives lower wages based on his national origin.
- An employer does not give an employee a proper amount of leave due to his national origin.
Racial harassment is a big part of racial discrimination in the workplace. The law prohibits this behavior which may include:
- Racial slurs
- Offensive comments regarding a person’s race or skin tone
- Posting racially-offensive signs or symbols.
Unfortunately, one instance of harassment is likely not enough for a lawsuit. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment is illegal when:
- “Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment,” or
- The harassment creates a hostile work environment
Essentially, if your boss makes a racist joke, you likely cannot file suit against him; however, if he makes racist jokes frequently and uses racial slurs toward you or around you, you likely can hold him accountable. The same is true if you are subjected to harassment because of you national origin.
The law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee for filing a discrimination charge, opposing discrimination in the workplace, or participating in an investigation.
What laws prohibit race discrimination?
There are two major federal and state laws that prohibit racial and national origin discrimination in a work environment. When we file lawsuits against employers for racial discrimination or national origin discrimination, we do so under these laws.
Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, national origin, and other characteristics.
Equal Employment Practices Act: In North Carolina, the Equal Employment Practices Act (EEPA) prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from making employment-related decisions based on race, color, national origin, and other characteristics.
You Have Legal Options if Your Employer Discriminated Based on Your Race
If you believe your employer discriminated against you because of your race or national orientation, you have legal options, including:
Filing a Complaint with the EEOC
If you are a victim of race or national origin discrimination at work, we will file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC on your behalf. Employees must file race discrimination charges within 180 days from the date of discrimination. If the EEOC cannot resolve your case, we will request a right-to-sue letter so we can then file a lawsuit on your behalf.
Filing a Lawsuit
You must be able to prove that racial discrimination did, in fact, occur. This can be hard to do, as employers usually try to cover up discrimination. We gather thorough evidence to establish a “prima facie case” of discrimination that proves:
- You are part of a protected class, e.g., a racial group.
- You are qualified for the job.
- The employer engaged in discriminatory practices against you (e.g., fired, refused to hire, refused to promote, harassed, etc.) because of your race, skin color, national origin, etc.
- The company continued to look for other applicants to fill the role or the person who received the benefit was not in your protected class.
If we can prove all four of these elements, the court may presume that your race was what caused the negative employment action. The employer must then prove that it had a non-discriminatory reason for that employment action. For example, the employer may argue that the firing was due to the employee’s poor performance and tardiness, rather than race.
But we build your case to prove that the employer’s action was in fact discriminatory and that the reason given for its actions was false or insufficient.
Recovering Damages After Racial Discrimination Case
If the court finds that you are a victim of discrimination, you may recover remedies such as:
- Back pay: Back pay covers lost wages from the date of discrimination to the date of judgment
- Front pay: Victims of discrimination may have to seek new employment after their case settles; it may take some time to find something equivalent to their old position. Front pay covers lost future wages.
- Lost benefits: Bonuses, insurance, etc. lost due to discrimination.
- Compensatory damages – These damages cover out-of-pocket expenses and emotional distress.
- Punitive damages: Courts may award punitive damages if the employer’s actions were egregious or malicious.
- Reinstatement: Terminated employees may be able to return to their position
- Hiring: Courts may force employers to hire the applicant in question
- Attorney’s fees and court costs
Facing racial discrimination at work is an awful experience that no one deserves. Stephan Zouras, LLP has years of experience handling workplace racial discrimination cases. For more information on how we can help you, give us a call: 704-612-0038.