Standing up to Racial Discrimination

discriminationWhen a black, female Chipotle employee confronted her manager about being assigned night shifts with fellow black employees, while Latino workers were given more preferable day shifts, her manager had a troubling comeback. “Black girls always have an attitude.” The worker then complained to a district manager, who brushed her aside. According to records, the employee was then fired without being given any explanation. She did not take it sitting down. Instead, she marched into court and filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to prevent harassment, and retaliation. If you are facing racial discrimination in the workplace, you may wish to consult an attorney and take legal action, as well.

Racial Discrimination is Real

Although some may try to deny it, statistics indicate that racial discrimination is alive and well in this country. Wage gaps are one of the clearest markers of this:

  • Median hourly earnings for men of color lag behind those of white men by six to seven dollars;
  • The wage gap separating black and Hispanic men and white men has not narrowed since 1980;
  • Black men earn 73% of what white men earn;
  • Hispanic men earn 71% of what white men earn;
  • Even with a bachelor’s degree, men of color earn 80% of what white men earn.

It is no wonder that just over 20% of black adults and just under 20% of Hispanics report that they have experienced unfair or discriminatory actions in hiring, promotion or pay in the past year.  Meanwhile, while 5% of white adults say their race makes success difficult, that number is 40% for blacks and 20% of Hispanics.

What Does Racial Discrimination Look Like?

Racial discrimination can rear its ugly head in a number of ways. Some examples you may encounter include:

  • You are not hired because a company’s clients would not be working with someone of your race, or you are kept in the background so customers will not be exposed to someone of your race;
  • You are laid off, while white employees with similar skills and less seniority are kept on;
  • White employees with similar positions and experience are paid more than you;
  • Whites are assigned preferential shifts or territories while you are given unfavorable ones;
  • Colleagues tell racially offensive jokes, use racial slurs casually, or in other ways create a hostile work environment and management does not deal with the situation.

Remedies for Racial Discrimination

If you experience race discrimination at work, you should know that Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964 protects people from such workplace violations. At Beck Law P.C., we do not tolerate excuses. We seek justice for those treated unfairly. That may include:

  • Back pay and/or reinstatement following a lay-off or firing;
  • Hiring when you were denied such due to race;
  • Promotions you did not get due to race;
  • Compensatory damages for pain and suffering;
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Court costs

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I’m Being Retaliated Against at Work But How Can I Prove It?

retaliated against at workI’m being retaliated against at work but how can I prove it? As the definition of “protected conduct” in the workplace broadens, the number of employer retaliation lawsuits have increased exponentially. In turn, companies have found clever ways to get rid of employees who have reported them to authorities for protected class violations at work.

If you feel you are being retaliated against at work for protected conduct then you very well may be.

What is protected conduct?

Protected conduct is described by the EEOC under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Basically, there are provisions covered in the EEOC statutes that make it unlawful for an employer/entity to take action against an employee who complains (implicitly or explicitly) about discrimination in the workplace. Areas of protected conduct include employees’ rights to: religious preference, gender identification, race, age, disability, military status, freedom of speech and protest, equal pay, harassment and protection for rape victims.

Here are some examples of complaints/actions that an employer may not retaliate against: 

  1. A threat from a 56 year old employee to file a complaint against alleged age discrimination because of demotion
  2. A female employee who complains that her male co-worker is making more money performing the same job
  3. Employees who picket the workplace
  4. Employees who slow production as a form of protesting unfair labor practices
  5. An employee who suddenly comes to work wearing a hijab
  6. Complaints about graffiti in the workplace that are derogatory to women
  7. A concerned employee who complains that her supervisor is making fun of the receptionist in a wheelchair
  8. An employee who refuses to obey an order that they believe is discriminatory
  9. An employee who requests reasonable religious accommodation to take a half day off for Good Friday

There are various tactics that employers can use that may violate retaliation laws, some subtle and some not, that may be intended to coerce you into quitting your job. Be aware that retaliatory tactics can and often include what psychologists call the “outcast effect” that is best described when co-workers socially align with the “in crowd”. You will know this is happening when your friends at work shun you and label you as socially undesirable. Basically, the entire workforce may turn against you in a big way and it can be cruel.

 This Forbes Magazine article clearly describes just how miserable co-workers and supervisors can make an employee feel who reports protected conduct to authorities.

I’m Being Retaliated Against at Work

Social isolation does not stand on its own as a case for retaliation. It is only one cog in the wheel of a divisive harassment campaign that companies may use against you. A typical retaliation campaign might include, along with social isolation, poor performance reviews, petty reprimands, cuts in duties and pay, unequal treatment between complaining and non-complaining employees, hostility, being moved from a bright office to a dull cubicle, loss of responsibilities and increased work load meant to make you fail.

What must an employee go through to prove a workplace retaliation claim?

Employees must provide evidence:

  • that they engaged in protected conduct;
  • that they suffered a tangible, adverse employment action; and that there is a causal connection between their protected conduct and the adverse action.
  • that there is a causal connection between their protected conduct and the adverse action.

Further, employees must prove causation by providing incidents, documents, witnesses and dates, with tangible evidence of:

  1. unfair treatment between employees;
  2. the timing between the adverse actions and the protected conduct (courts expect employers to retaliate quickly);
  3. lack of a formal investigation into the employee’s complaint;
  4. petty or vague reasons for reprimands, demotions, loss of status or duties;
  5. a documented timeline of systematic company harassment after the time of the protected conduct.

If you feel you are being retaliated against at work and think you need assistance in proving causation please contact us at our Beck Law P.C. Santa Rosa Labor and Employment Law office so that we can discuss the circumstances of your situation.


The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.