In 2015, it may be hard to imagine that overt signs of race discrimination would still be commonplace, even in Alabama. But, the truth is, they are. On New Year's Eve, Terry Turner was celebrating the new year with her granddaughter, when she became the victim of a hate crime.
The worst way to start a new year
While Terry Turner, an elderly African-American woman, was celebrating the holiday with her family, rocks were thrown through the front windows of her home. As she and her granddaughter slipped out of a bedroom window, she called 911. The police discovered that the words "move n**ger now," was spray painted on her garage door.
Turner had lived in that neighborhood for eight years and was no stranger to the racial slurs being shouted at her. However, she did not expect the racial animus to go that far. Her response to the hateful assault was admirable:
I don't hate whoever did this. I just don't understand it, she said. Racism is something that's taught. When you get two babies in a room, a black baby and a white baby in a room, they don't know nothing about that until they're taught.
Racial animus does not limit itself to personal attacks. Unfortunately, it can be seen and felt in the workplace as well.
What is Race Discrimination?
Race discrimination in the workplace typically takes the form of unfavorable treatment of an employee or applicant, because of his or her race. It can also include mistreatment based on particular characteristics associated with a certain race (e.g., hair texture, skin color, facial features).
Legal protections against race discrimination in the workplace
There are federal laws against discrimination in the employment context, which prohibit different treatment of employees based on race. When an employment action is taken, such as hiring, firing, pay raises, job assignments, promotions, layoffs or reductions in force, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment, because of someone's race, unlawful discrimination may have occurred.
Can company policies discriminate against minorities?
Discrimination does not always take the form of intentional decisions by managers. There can also be a situation where a company's policy excludes or discriminates against minorities, while seeming to be neutral. In these cases, it is said that the policy has a "disparate impact" on a particular race. If the company cannot establish that the policy or its requirements are sufficiently "job related," then this type of discrimination can also violate the federal anti-discrimination laws.
Some common examples of discriminatory practices
Race discrimination is not always readily apparent. Some employers who are looking to discriminate may create and implement pre-employment tests that are known to exclude a particular race at a higher level than others. When that test is not required for job performance, it can be shown that the test is discriminatory. If an employer routinely solicits applicants from sources in which most of the potential employees are of a certain race, that practice can have a discriminatory impact.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination, or if you have any questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Wrady & Michel, LLC, either online or by calling us at (205) 265-1880.