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The Employee's Voice And Advocate

CENTRAL FLORIDA RACE DISCRIMINATION LAWYERS BASED IN OCALA, FLORIDA

Since 1964, a fundamental purpose of legislative efforts to eradicate workplace discrimination has been to prohibit all employment practices which create inequality in employment because of discrimination on the basis of race. Although employment laws mandate fair and equal treatment for all employees, race discrimination in the workplace persists. Employees are still denied employment, opportunity for advancement, and equal treatment because of their race. Employees continue to endure derogatory racial remarks, slurs, insults, and jokes by co-employees, supervisors, and managers. Employers continue to make employment decisions on the basis of their employees’ race. Employers have not ceased making employment decisions on the basis of the racial preferences of their customers or clients. For more than 15 years, our Ocala based employment discrimination lawyers have been committed to fighting race discrimination in the workplace and vindicating the rights of employees who have been the victims of race discrimination in the workplace.

Laws Prohibiting Race Discrimination

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which is federal law, and the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA), which is Florida law, it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of race. The protection against race discrimination extends to all employees and applicants for employment. Title VII and the FCRA forbid race discrimination with respect to all aspects of employment, including hiring, job training, compensation, job assignments, promotion, discipline, layoff, and termination.

What Is An Individual’s Race

The term “race” is not defined in Title VII or the FCRA. For purposes of collecting federal data on race and ethnicity, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget has set forth the following five racial categories: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African-American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White; and one ethnicity category, Hispanic or Latino.

Scope Of Protection Against Race Discrimination

Protection against race discrimination extends beyond discrimination against individuals because of their race. Prohibited race discrimination also includes discrimination based on:

  • * The employer’s belief or perception that the individual is a member of a particular racial group. For example, an employer refuses to hire an individual because the employer believes or perceives the individual to be Asian. Similarly, an employer terminates an employer because the employer believes or perceives the individual to be African-American.
  • * The individual’s marriage to or association with a particular racial group. For example, an employer discriminates against an employee because she is married to an African-American. Likewise, an employer discriminates against en employee because he or she associates with persons who are Asian.

Workplace & Job Segregation

Title VII and the FCRA prohibit employers from segregating the workplace, segregating employees into certain jobs, or assigning job duties to employees on the basis of race. For example, an employer cannot give Asian employees the least desirable or most demeaning positions or job duties. Likewise, an employer cannot maintain a segregated sales force, with an African-American manager supervising African-American salespersons and a white manager supervising white salespersons. Similarly, an employer cannot prohibit Native Americans from working in certain stores or certain areas of a store because the employer wants the staff to mirror its customers. Nor can employer require African-American salespersons to handle predominately African-American customers or accounts. Moreover, an employer cannot assign employees to specific geographical areas by race. For example, an employer cannot require African-American delivery drivers to make deliveries to neighborhoods or geographical areas with a high percentage of African-Americans.

Discriminatory Customer Preferences

Under Title VII and the FCRA, employers are prohibited from relying on discriminatory racial preferences of customers as a basis for employment decisions. This means that an employer is forbidden from making employment decisions based on the desire to satisfy the perceived racial preferences of its customers. For example, an employer cannot refuse to hire or terminate an African-American employee based on the belief that its customers are uncomfortable with African-Americans or prefer doing business with whites. As explained by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Rucker v. Higher Educ. Aid Bd., 669 F.2d 1179 (7th Cir. 1982), it is forbidden by Title VII to refuse to hire or terminate an individual “because your customers or clientele do not like his race.”

Circumstances Most Reflective Of Race Discrimination

Most employment discrimination cases are proven using the disparate treatment theory. As the U.S. Supreme Court explained in International Bhd. of Teamsters v. United States, 431 U.S. 324 (1977), “disparate treatment is the most easily understood type of discrimination.” In a disparate treatment case, the employer treats an employee differently or less favorably than other employees on the basis race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability. In the race discrimination context, this means that the employer treats the employee claiming discrimination differently or less favorably from other employees who are not members of the protected racial class.

For example, the employer terminates an African-American employee because of misconduct, but the employer does not terminate non-African-American employees who engaged in misconduct equally, if not more, egregious than the misconduct which allegedly motivated it to fire the African-American employee. Similarly, the employer terminates an Asian employee because of a poor performance record, but the employer does not terminate non-Asian employees who have the same or even a worse performance record. Likewise, the employer terminates a Native American employee because of a violation of a company policy, but the employer does not terminate non-Native American employees who violate the same or similar company policy. As these examples are intended to illustrate the disparate treatment theory of discrimination, whether legal grounds exist for filing a race discrimination case would depend on the facts and circumstances in each particular case.

As observed by the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), the “primary purpose of Title VII was to the assure equality of opportunity and to eliminate those discriminatory practices and devices which have fostered racially stratified job environments to the disadvantage of minority citizens.” Showing that the employer’s treatment of an employee of a particular race differs from the treatment of employees who are not members of the protected racial class is a form of circumstantial evidence used to prove race discrimination. The employer’s different treatment of the employee claiming race discrimination supports the conclusion that he or she was singled out for unfavorable treatment because of race.

Evidence Showing You Were Subjected To Race Discrimination

As discussed more fully in our section pertaining to discrimination, because an employer will rarely admit to a discriminatory motive when taking an adverse employment action against an employee, employment discrimination cases almost always must be proven by circumstantial evidence. In our section pertaining to discrimination, we identify some of the types of circumstantial evidence that can be used to prove that an individual’s race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability may have played a role in the challenged employment decision.

The circumstantial evidence identified in our section pertaining to discrimination applies with equal force in the context of race discrimination claims. However, some forms of circumstantial evidence arise more frequently or have heightened importance in the context of race discrimination. In the race discrimination context, the types of circumstantial evidence that also can be used to prove that an individual’s race may have played an impermissible role in the challenged employment decision include:

  • * In a termination case, the employer replaces the employee claiming race discrimination with a person outside of the protected racial class. In a failure to hire or promote case, the employer selects a person outside of the protected racial class.
  • * Comments by supervisors or managers reflecting a desire to cater to the racial preferences of customers.
  • * The employer segregates jobs or job assignments by race.
  • * The employer frequently makes the employee claiming race discrimination to perform undesirable or difficult job duties. Job duties other employees do not want to do and job duties other employees outside of the protected racial class are infrequently required to do.
  • * Derogatory racial remarks, slurs, insults, or jokes by co-employees, supervisors or managers towards the employee claiming race discrimination, other employees in the protected racial class, or customers in the protected racial class.
  • * The employer’s failure to stop derogatory racial remarks, slurs, insults, or jokes by employees even though a supervisor or manager has knowledge of such comments. This shows that the employer tolerated the discriminatory comments
  • * Evidence that the employer has discriminated against other employees who members of the protected racial class. For example, evidence that the employer has discriminated against other African-American employees in hiring, compensation, promotion, discipline, or termination can be used as circumstantial evidence to support an African-American employee’s claim that he or she was fired on the basis of race.
  • * Evidence that the employer has discriminated against customers who members of the protected racial class.

This list is not exclusive and there is no single or mechanical method for showing that an individual was the victim of race discrimination. However, if any of these things have happened to you or occurred in the workplace, you may have suffered race discrimination depending on the facts and circumstances in your particular case.

Discriminatory Remarks Reflecting Race Discrimination

Although not required to prove race discrimination, derogatory racial remarks, slurs, insults, or jokes by supervisors or managers are the most compelling evidence of race discrimination. The derogatory racial remarks, slurs, insults, or jokes can be about the employee claiming race discrimination or any person who is a member of the employee’s protected racial class, including other employees and customers. The types of remarks that can be used in proving that an individual’s race may have played an impermissible role in the challenged employment decision include:

  • * Racial slurs made directly to the employee, about the employee outside of his or her presence, or about any person in the employee’s protected racial class.
  • * Remarks reflecting a bias, hostility, or negative attitude towards the employee because of his or her race.
  • * Remarks reflecting a bias, hostility, or negative attitude towards other employees or individuals who are members of the protected racial class.
  • * Remarks reflecting racial stereotyping, such as referring to employees who are members of the protected race class as “one of them,” “another one,” “all of you,” “you guys,” or “you people.”

Racial Harassment

As discussed more extensively in our section regarding hostile work environment harassment, Title VII and the FCRA also protect employees against harassment on the basis of race. Racial harassment is a form of race discrimination. Prohibited racial harassment includes racial slurs, racial remarks, racial insults, racial drawings, physical threats or violence, and racial jokes. Racial harassment which is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile working environment violates Title VII and the FCRA. In many cases, an employee will endure a racially hostile work environment and suffer an adverse employment action, such as termination, reduction in hours, or demotion, on the basis of race. Under such circumstances, an employee has a claim for racial harassment based on the hostile work environment and a claim for racial discrimination based on the adverse employment action.

Protection Against Retaliation

As discussed more fully in our section pertaining to retaliation, employees are protected against retaliation when they complain about racial discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Under Title VII and the FCRA, employers are forbidden from subjecting an employee to an adverse employment action in retaliation for complaining about racial discrimination or harassment. Prohibited retaliatory adverse employment actions include reduction in pay or hours, demotion, denial of promotion, suspension, and termination.

Employment Law Blog

We offer more information about racial discrimination and harassment in our employment law blog.

Contact Us Today For A Free Initial Consultation

If you are experiencing or have experienced race discrimination in the workplace, please contact us for a free initial consultation with our Central Florida race discrimination attorneys. You will receive personalized and individual attention from our employment law attorneys. We have substantial experience litigating race discrimination cases in state and federal court. Our employee rights law firm takes race discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis and if we fail to recover on your behalf, we do not get paid. Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we are ready to take your race discrimination case and fight for your employee rights.

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