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Can I Win a Claim for Racial Discrimination That Is Unintentional?

 Posted on March 11, 2019 in Workplace Discrimination

Allegheny County work discrimination attorneyRacial discrimination in the workplace does not have to involve open hostility, derogatory remarks, and intentional acts in order to support a claim for damages. In fact, many cases have been won where an employer’s race-based discrimination was subtle and even unintentional. 

When racial discrimination occurs in a more subtle fashion, you may not even be sure whether you have a valid claim. Even after you file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and their investigation reveals some evidence of discriminatory practices, there is no guarantee that the EEOC will decide to prosecute your case. In such cases, you may need to engage a private attorney to help you collect damages.

What Are Some Signs of Subtle Racial Discrimination?

A supervisor or hiring manager may never utter a word against people of another race or intentionally make discriminatory decisions about hiring, promotion, or termination. However, they may still be perpetuating discriminatory practices.

For example, just two years ago, the EEOC won a $10.5 million judgment against a leading sporting goods retailer which was found to be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. In this case, a class of African-American and Hispanic workers claimed discriminatory hiring practices. The retailer had a largely white workforce in part because of the places where they had traditionally advertised and recruited.

The retailer agreed to take specific action to increase diversity in their hiring by:

  • Reaching out to minority colleges.
  • Participating in job fairs in communities with large minority populations.
  • Posting job openings in publications popular among black and Hispanic communities.

In a similar case, a company was charged with engaging in a “pattern or practice” of racial discrimination because they did not publicly advertise open positions but rather relied on word-of-mouth recruiting and employee referrals.

Another pair of recent cases involved the use of criminal background checks that disproportionately screened out black workers. As a result of EEOC enforcement, many companies have altered the way they use criminal background checks, limiting background checks to a shorter, more recent time frame, focusing only on crimes directly related to the job, considering only convictions rather than arrests, and evaluating the nature and the gravity of the offense.

A third example of subtle racism involves the disparate application of workplace policies. Numerous cases have been prosecuted and won where workers of one race were not punished for minor rule infractions yet workers of a minority race were. 

Consult a Pittsburgh Race Discrimination Lawyer

If you have been passed over for a job, and you suspect it is because you are of a different race or ethnic origin than the rest of the employees who work for that employer, you may have experienced subtle or even unintentional racial discrimination. To determine if your claim is worth pursuing, consult an experienced Allegheny County employment discrimination attorney. Call 412-680-7877 to schedule a free consultation. From our Wexford office, we serve clients in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. 


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