Racial discrimination in an employment setting can manifest itself in many different ways. It occurs when an employer refuses to hire people because of their race, or will not promote people of a certain race into certain positions, or will only hire or promote people (either at all or for particular jobs) if they are members of a specific race. Unlawful discrimination in can also take place when an employer lays off employees to cut costs but the decisions regarding who gets laid off and who gets to keep their job are influenced by racial considerations. And racial discrimination exists when employees are forced to endure a racist, hostile work environment in which racial insults or comments, or racist “jokes” permeate the workplace.
The law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their race. The law also protects employees from retaliation for complaining about what they reasonably believe to be unlawful racial discrimination or harassment. If you complain to management, or to your employer’s human resources office, or even, in some circumstances, to a colleague at work about real or perceived race discrimination or racial harassment on the job, and you suffer adverse job-related consequences as a result – such as being fired, being stripped of responsibilities, being denied overtime opportunities, or being denied other benefits or opportunities at work – you may very well have a claim against your employer for unlawful retaliation.
These principles and protections also apply to employees who face discrimination for reasons that are not, legally speaking, “racial,” such as discrimination based on nationality, or ethnicity, or “color.” And the law protects employees from racial discrimination by members of their own race, who sometimes demonstrate a perverse preference for people of a different race than theirs and treat members of their own race with hostility.
Employment discrimination issues can be quite complicated. If you believe you are being, or have been, unlawfully discriminated against, it makes sense to speak to a knowledgeable New York employment lawyer to discuss your rights and legal options.