Articles Posted in Race Discrimination

rasha-zeyadehIf the events of the past few months have shown us anything, it’s that Black Lives Matter, words matter, and actions must have consequences. Both spoken and in writing, the language we use has the power to inspire, unite, offend, and divide. Sometimes, the use of seemingly harmless words, or the absence of words altogether, can have an everlasting impact.

This week, I gave an hour-long presentation to HR personnel about the negative impacts of implicit bias in the workplace and how to spot and eliminate such bias. Even so, I’d be remiss to believe that implicit bias will no longer exist simply because I spoke to a group of folks for about an hour.

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deontae-wherryAfter watching the 8 minutes and 46 seconds video that outraged the world, many individuals have joined in the fight for racial justice. These individuals have chosen not to be silent; they have decided to speak up and to speak out against racial inequality. The fight against systematic and institutional racism and discrimination is not solely related to police brutality, but it is embedded in every facet of our society, including in the workplace. Although the Civil Rights Act was passed more than 50 years ago, there is still great progress to be made to end workplace race discrimination.

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As we’ve discussed in previous posts, federal discrimination laws prohibit employers from engaging in discriminatory conduct during employment. This also includes the pre-employment interview process. Employers cannot make a hiring decision based on a person’s age, race, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

Sometimes, employers trying to gather as much information as possible about an applicant will rely on preconceived notions and stereotypes in doing so.

A few of the problematic questions employers routinely ask are:

  • whether an applicant is married, engaged, single, or divorced;
  • whether an applicant has any children and, if so, how old they are;
  • whether an applicant plans on becoming pregnant;
  • what an applicant’s spouse or boyfriend does for a living;
  • whether an applicant attends religious services and, if so, what days; and
  • the origins of an applicant’s last name.

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Employment discrimination is widely recognized as an illegal practice. However, what exactly constitutes discrimination changes over time. Due in part to a long-awaited shift in societal values, as well as empirical data establishing that many immutable characteristics have nothing to do with someone’s ability to perform the functions of a job, the number of protected groups under state and federal employment discrimination statutes continues to grow.As the protected groups have grown over time, so too has the type of conduct that employers are prohibited from engaging in. No longer are Texas employment discrimination lawsuits limited to an employee being fired or demoted for an impermissible reason. Today’s anti-discrimination laws are much more robust, protecting employees from all kinds of workplace discrimination.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are not permitted to discriminate in any of the following areas:

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Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit race discrimination in most Texas workplaces. Race discrimination occurs any time that an employer makes an adverse employment decision based on race, and it is absolutely illegal.

Assuming it has a minimum of 15 employees, your private employer cannot make adverse employment decisions when hiring, firing, promoting, paying, training, or providing other terms and conditions of employment. Employers cannot make these decisions based on their biases about the qualities or performance of people who belong to specific races. They also can’t make those decisions based on a job applicant or employee’s association or marriage to someone of a certain race, membership in ethnic or race-based organizations, or attendance in schools that are identified with certain races.

For example, if your manager decides not to promote you to a supervisory position because she has stereotypes about people of your race not being good leaders, this would be race discrimination. Similarly, if you are not hired for a job because a company’s leadership believes that people of your race aren’t creative enough to do a job, that is race discrimination.

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