One idea that has persisted since the election of Barack Obama in 2008 is the idea that America has somehow turned a corner on racial issues simply because a man of color was elected president. This is sometimes used to argue that racism has disappeared or is somehow not relevant to the real world since then. But in reality, racial discrimination today is still a major issue, especially in the workplace. If you believe it has happened to you, it is worth discussing with an attorney.
Do Not Ignore Poor Treatment
It can be easy to assume that you are overreacting or imagining things. In some situations, this may be the case, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported over 30,000 claims of racial discrimination in FY 2015. By definition, all of these cases cannot be overreactions. One common way that employees tend to talk themselves out of reporting bad treatment is by thinking that racial discrimination in their workplace must necessarily be hostile and overt, when in reality, there are different ways in which racial animus can be shown.
Harassment is perhaps the most common manner in which racial animus in the workplace is alleged. While harassment can sometimes be verbal intimidation, it can also be subtler. Display of racist symbols is a common method of harassment, or sometimes ‘de facto’ discrimination is used in this manner—that is, an ostensibly neutral policy may be put in place which in fact discriminates against people of color. An example of such a policy is requiring men to be clean-shaven, when many African-Americans are predisposed to a skin condition that may leave severe bumps or rashes on their face if they shave too often. The policy might be facially neutral, but it creates negative consequences for African-Americans only.
Bringing A Charge
If you decide to bring a charge against your employer, be advised that you have a certain window to do so depending on which oversight agency you choose to reach. You are able to file either with the EEOC or with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). In theory, even if you file with SCHAC, the EEOC may wind up handling your case, as the two agencies work together on many issues. However, the time frame in which a charge must be filed is different for each agency. With the EEOC, you have 180 days from the date of the incident, while with SCHAC, you have up to 300 days.
Keep in mind that your employer is not, by law, permitted to retaliate against you for filing a charge of discrimination. If you experienced any type of retaliatory action, this may be grounds for a new charge on top of the old. Employees have rights. If an employer was permitted to retaliate with impunity against any of their workers that tried to hold them to account for poor behavior, many of those rights would be immediately abrogated.
Contact An Employment Discrimination Lawyer Today
Most employers have the well-being of their employees at heart. But if you believe you have experienced racial discrimination, it is not in your best interest to stay silent. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has handled many of these cases, and is happy to help advise you on how to handle yours.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.