In this day and age, all forms of racism are becoming more and more frowned upon in the workplace, as they should have been a long time ago. However, while many companies are embracing diversity and equity, others are simply engaging in more subtle forms of race-based discrimination. When racism in the workplace is subtle, establishing discrimination is very important.
Overt vs Covert
Racial discrimination is barred by South Carolina’s Human Affairs Law (HAL) and the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both cover all aspects of the work process, from hiring and day-to-day employment to termination. However, most of the often-given examples of racially insensitive conduct are quite overt, such as using racial slurs, displaying racially insensitive symbols, or engaging in harassment that is so severe it prevents a worker from doing their job. In reality, much of the workplace harassment based on race is much more subtle.
Title VII in particular prohibits discrimination based on “race-based characteristics” and stereotypes, in addition to race itself. This means that if one race is more likely to experience certain negative effects based on an employer’s policy, the policy is discriminatory regardless of whether it was intended to be or not. For example, if a workplace mandates that its insurance policy not cover such conditions as sickle-cell disease or Tay-Sachs disease, this will likely be seen as discriminatory because those conditions are noticeably more prevalent in racial and ethnic minority groups (people of color and Jewish people, respectively).
If You Suspect Discrimination
Whether you have been subjected to overt forms of discrimination like being harassed with racial slurs or more covert forms of discrimination such as inappropriate interview questions or being denied opportunities for advancement, you have the right to file a complaint with the relevant authorities. It is generally recommended to see if the matter can be handled in-house, but if this is not successful, you can file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or with South Carolina’s Human Affairs Commission (HAC).
The general difference between filing with the federal versus the state agency is the length of time you have to file. The EEOC grants 180 days in which to file a charge, while filing with the HAC may yield you more time depending on the specific nature of your case. However, the HAC is a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA), meaning that if you file with the HAC, it will be “dual filed” with the EEOC immediately. Either way, your bases will generally be covered.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
When racism in the workplace is subtle, establishing discrimination is very important. If you believe you have been discriminated against, calling a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney is a crucial next step. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has handled these types of cases for years now and is