Race Discrimination

New York Lawyers Combating Race and Ethnic Discrimination in Employment

Although society at large does not tolerate discrimination on the basis of race and condemns those who engage in it, racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace remain a common problem. Many employers fail to take adequate steps to discourage and address racial harassment that occurs at their work sites. Others implement seemingly neutral policies that nevertheless adversely affect members of racial minorities. Some even continue to engage in overt racial discrimination against employees and applicants. The unbalanced nature of the employee/employer relationship may make victims of this behavior feel as if they have no recourse. However, with the help of the experienced New York employment discrimination lawyers at the law firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP, you can stand up to racial inequality in the workplace—and assert your right to be judged by your talents and abilities and not your racial background.

Types of racial discrimination in the workplace

Direct racial discrimination by employers—such as refusing to hire, discharging or offering inferior terms or conditions of employment based on race—still occurs often. Sometimes we catch them red-handed, such as a case in which the owner of a company threatened an African American employee with a noose and a Good Samaritan made sure the tape was not erased, or when someone hit “reply all” and our African-American client received an email saying “no, I don’t think she is white.” Moreover, there are many cases involving the use of racial slurs. Indirect and even unintentional racial discrimination is also common and can take just as much of an economic and psychological toll on its victims. Examples include discouraging minority applicants from participating in recruitment programs and systemically giving racial minorities lower evaluations than their white counterparts.

Some of these policies are adopted with the deceptive purpose of excluding minorities from the workforce. Others are adopted for racially neutral reasons but still adversely impact minorities in the work force. In either event, the harm caused is real and federal, New York State and New York City laws provide redress.

Employers have a responsibility to prevent racial harassment

While most major companies know better than to engage in overt harassment and discrimination based on race, many individual employees and supervisors do not. Employers have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to discourage and address racial discrimination and harassment that takes place among their employees. In some cases, these employers may be liable for the racially motivated actions of coworkers and even customers or other third parties. Supervisor misconduct that is generally imputed to the company includes:

  • Use of ethnic or racial slurs
  • Spread of ethnic or racial jokes or cartoons
  • Disparaging comments about your race or ethnicity
  • Reliance upon ethnic or racial stereotypes
  • Unwelcome comments about your supposed racial or ethnic characteristics

When this conduct reaches sufficient frequency or severity to create a hostile work environment, employers may become vicariously liable for failing to address it. In New York City, the standard for what causes employer liability is much lower than under federal statutes. So long as you can demonstrate that you were treated by a supervisor less well on account of your race, and the harassment went beyond “petty slights,” your employer is liable.

Consult with an experienced New York racial discrimination lawyer

Racial discrimination in the workplace can take a significant financial and emotional toll on victims and their families. Fortunately, the Civil Rights Act and New York and NYC human rights laws provide the tools you need to get justice and put an end to discriminatory practices in the workplace. Our skilled employment discrimination lawyers at Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP have achieved justice for many clients in New York who suffered racial discrimination. Call our offices today to arrange a complimentary evaluation. We are available by phone at 212-688-5640. We can also be reached online. Se habla espanol.