Michelle Cohen Levy

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What to do if you face racism at work

| May 10, 2019 | Firm News |

Racism in the workplace is a serious problem. According to a recent survey, 48% of African Americans and 36% of Hispanics have been victims of racial discrimination at work. If you experience racism at your job, what will you do?

Being the target of racial discrimination and harassment is a confusing and disheartening experience. Here are some ideas for what you should do in this situation. 

Know the laws that protect you

One of the first things you should do is review the relevant state and federal laws that explain your rights and protections. Thankfully, these laws are more accessible than ever. For example, you can read the full text of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. There is also the Florida Civil Rights Act. These statutes outlaw race and color discrimination in the following examples:

  • Work situations: Hiring, termination, job assignment, payment, layoff, promotion, training and benefits
  • Harassment: Racial slurs, derogatory or offensive remarks or the display of offensive images or symbols
  • Policies and practices: Any policy or practice may be unlawful if it negatively impacts people of a specific race or color

As you can see, the laws clearly prohibit the mistreatment of someone because of race or skin color. 

Document everything

Keep a diary, whether physical or electronic, that details the discrimination or harassment you experience. Include the date, time, location, perpetrator, witnesses and an explanation of the misconduct. These notes will be useful if you decide to make a report or file a claim of racial discrimination or harassment. 

Decide how you want to proceed

Once you get legal advice, you can determine the best course of action. Some of your options include:

  • Filing a complaint with the EEOC
  • Filing a report with your employer
  • Taking legal action against your employer

You do not need to stay silent about racism at work. Remember that you deserve to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment.