Is It Unlawful to Discriminate Against a Person Because of That Person’s Race?

Oct 04, 2018
By Peter Friedmann

Yes, it is unlawful to discriminate against people of any race. As race discrimination attorneys in Columbus, the employee rights lawyers with The Friedmann Firm welcome opportunities to hold employers accountable for discriminating against workers and job applicants.

Legal Protections Against Racial Discrimination in Employment

The Ohio Civil Rights Act of 1959 and, at the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 include race on list of personal characteristics that employers cannot use when it comes to making employment decisions. National origin, color, sex and religion are also on the list of protected characteristics under Title VII.

For current employers and employees, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission clarifies that race cannot be a consideration when determining pay, promotions, hiring or the benefits associated with any job.  Race also cannot be used as a factor in the following circumstances:

  • When writing job advertisements;
  • During the interviewing and hiring process;
  • When setting the terms of employment such as hours and pay;
  • When setting the conditions of work such as location and equipment;
  • When imposing discipline for poor performance or violations of company policy;
  • When making layoffs and conducting recalls; or
  • When deciding who to promote, demote, or fire.

Racial Discrimination Can Create a Hostile Work Environment

Federal and state laws also protect job applicants and employees from race-based harassment. Racial jokes and insults, if severe and pervasive, can serve as grounds for filing complaints and pursuing lawsuits over discriminatory behavior.  One racially derogatory comment is NOT enough to constitute a hostile work environment in most circumstances.  When comments and overt behaviors cause a racially targeted individual to start doing poor work, skip shifts altogether, fear for his or her safety, or quit, grounds for filing a hostile work environment lawsuit exist.  It is important to consult with a Columbus race discrimination lawyer BEFORE you resign.

Co-workers and managers cannot be allowed to engage in discriminatory behavior. In a legal sense, this means that a company’s senior management and owners can sometimes be held liable for allowing racial discrimination to persist. This is why employment lawsuits over race discrimination often name the company as the principal defendant. The problem could have and should have been resolved as soon as it was noticed or reported.

Taking Legal Action Against Racial Discrimination at Work

It is important to understand that anyone can be the victim of race-based discrimination.  When discriminatory behavior occurs, the targeted individual should report the incident to a manager, supervisor, HR or union representative, or, if just applying for a job, the state employment commission.  Be sure to report the harassment in writing and keep a copy of the correspondence, should you need it later.

Going through an employer or state-administered investigation and resolution process is usually required before a lawsuit can be filed. If the employer or state’s process fails to produce an acceptable solution, the next step is usually to submit an official complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The EEOC will conduct its investigation and may try to work with a company to identify and implement a solution. If that process fails, the EEOC can issue the employee a Right to Sue, which allows the employee to bring his/her federal and state law claims in the same lawsuit.

During a lawsuit over race-based employment discrimination, the plaintiff must prove that the discriminatory behavior was severe or pervasive and, caused a negative employment action, like termination, to occur.  Partnering with an experienced Columbus race discrimination lawyer will help the plaintiff determine whether he or she can fulfill these requirements and successfully file a claim against the former employer.

Do not suffer from any type of discrimination. If your managers or co-workers are harassing you or denying you equal pay and professional opportunities because of your race, contact our employment lawyer The Friedmann Firm to schedule a free and confidential consultation over your legal rights. You can call us at 614.610.9755 or request an appointment online.