Racial Discrimination in the Workplace: How to File a Charge

Any form of discrimination in all aspects of employment, which include hiring and firing, promotion, transfer, recall back to work, wages, fringe benefits, job training, apprenticeship programs, etc., whether such is based on race, color, sex, religion, or national origin, is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Discrimination in the workplace continues to be a major concern for both the federal and local governments, with non-whites being the major victims. This was made a fact after two different studies (on the chances of individuals with black-sounding names on finding employment) ended with the same results – that job applicants with white-sounding names (American names, specifically) had higher chances of getting employed compared to those with African-American-sounding names, often despite the obvious advantages of the latter in areas relating to educational qualification, job specification expertise and experience). The first study was conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while the other, which was made a few years later, was made by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT’s) Sendhil Mullainathan and Economics Professor Marianne Bertrand from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

The studies further revealed that, if ever African-Americans get invited for a job interview, diction, vocabulary and accent, especially, become major barriers to job entry. Obviously, accent creates bias among many employers or managers who suppose that pronunciation is enough to accurately determine an applicant’s educational qualification, level of intelligence, character, social status, etc. An English accent, however, is deemed as exuding intelligence, regardless of the content of what is said, thus, many try to adopt it.

Being a non-white may just be at the periphery of racial discrimination, though, for if the applicant or the employee happens to be such, as well as 40 or above years old, has a disability, a lesbian, homosexual, bisexual or transgender or, in the case of females, pregnant (or expecting to be pregnant soon), despite being definitely qualified for the job, then the chances of ever finding employment or of being treated fairly can be nil. This is why amendments to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act were made and additional laws were passed to recognize the competitive service non-whites are capable of providing. These amendments and laws include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the broadening of the scope of anti-sex discrimination, extending its protection to lesbians, gays and bisexuals (on July 1, 2011) and then to the transgender (on April 20, 2012). These amendments and laws also resulted to strict prohibition of job advertisements, use of company facilities, testing, disability leave and retirement plans which would imply discrimination.

Despite national and state laws, many companies remain guilty of discriminatory practices, probably either due to the subtle means through which they do it or because victims rather choose to remain silent for fear of getting into further trouble. Those who are determined to fight for their rights (or fight for another victim’s rights), though, are highly encouraged by the law; they can file their discrimination charge, personally or by mail, at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office nearest them (complainants are required by the law to file their charges with the EEOC first before filing a private lawsuit in court).

When filing a complaint, it is necessary to mention the specific discriminatory acts, the dates these have been committed, the complaining party’s and the respondent employer’s names, addresses, and contact numbers, and the identities of co-employees who have knowledge of the violations. Complainants are given up to 180 days, from the date of the alleged violation/s, to file their charges. If the violation committed is also covered by a local or state anti-discrimination law, then the statute of limitation (or filing period) is extended up to 300 days.

Filing a discrimination charge can be stressful to the victim, but so is remaining silent while being the target of unjust acts which others may also be suffering from or may also suffer from in the future. Finding the right legal advice and knowing what legal options victims have would be crucial during the period when they will need to evaluate what move to take.

Some information for this article was found on www.carykanelegal.com.

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