I believe my boss discriminated against me based on my race. However, my boss is the same race as me. Could unlawful race discrimination still have taken place?
Yes. What’s important is that discrimination occurred on the basis of your race. Therefore, the race of the individual engaging in racist activity makes no difference.
I work for a small business that has only 13 employees. Can I still sue them for race discrimination under Title VII?
Based on the information given, you probably cannot sue your employer for race discrimination under Title VII. But there that doesn’t mean your employer is in the clear. First, even though your employer has concluded that is only has 13 employees, doesn’t mean the courts interpreting Title VII will see it that way. If your employer has part-time employees or contract workers, it’s possible they could be considered part of the employee count total and meet the 15 employee threshold of Title VII.
Second, even if Title VII doesn’t apply to your case, a state or local law might. For example, Washington, D.C. has its own anti-discrimination law called the DC Human Rights Act. This law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race and applies to employers of any size. And Virginia has a similar law called the Virginia Human Rights Act that applies to employers with as few as six employees.
I haven’t been fired, demoted or transferred to a less desirable position, but I constantly face bullying and harassment based on my race. Can harassment be a form of race discrimination?
Yes, although whether the harassing behavior will be legally recognized as unlawful depends on the severity of the misconduct and how much of it you’re facing. Racial harassment becomes unlawful if it unreasonably interferes with work or otherwise creates an intimidating or hostile work environment. As a general rule, the most severe the harassment, the fewer occurrences are needed to create illegal harassment.
So if you’re African-American and your boss punched you in the face because he was tired of having to work with African-Americans, then that’s probably enough to constitute racial harassment. But if you have a coworker who repeats a joke he heard that makes fun of African-Americans, then that single instance probably won’t be enough to warrant legal action for racial harassment, no matter how politically incorrect or insensitive it was to make the joke.
I just applied for a job and received a callback interview. The interview was going well until I mentioned that my spouse is Asian (and I’m not). I have a suspicion that I was denied the job because my spouse is Asian. Did illegal discrimination just take place?
Yes, assuming your suspicion is correct. Even though you weren’t discriminated against because of your race, your prospective employer still engaged in illegal race discrimination. This is an example of “association discrimination,” where an individual is discriminated against based on his or her association (in your case, marriage) with a protected class.
I’m Hispanic and I applied for a sales job, but was denied the position. When I asked why I wasn’t hired, I was told it was because the majority of the prospective employer’s customers don’t like dealing with people who are Hispanic. Assuming this is true, is the employer still guilty of race discrimination?
Most likely. Even though the employer isn’t racist, they can still be liable for race discrimination if they make employment decisions based on the racist beliefs of certain non-employees, such as customers.