One of the fruits of the Civil Rights Movement was federal laws which prohibit employment discrimination based on race, national origin and color.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, is responsible for enforcing these laws. However, victims of discrimination are also allowed to pursue legal action directly through the courts in certain circumstances.
As a reminder, North Carolina state government and even certain local municipalities in central North Carolina have their own anti-discrimination rules.
The federal laws against racial discrimination do, and always have, protected people of all races. The term reverse discrimination is used in common parlance to refer to a situation in which a victim happens to be of the majority race.
Legally, though, racial discrimination is racial discrimination. It is prohibited, and those Greensboro employers who engage it can be held legally accountable for the damages they cause and may have to pay attorney fees and other penalties as well.
Racial discrimination includes harassment, discriminatory workplace policies
Under the federal law, employers may not directly take an adverse action, like refusing to hire, firing or refusing to promote a person, because of his or her race.
Moreover, employers also have to take reasonable steps to prohibit workplace harassment.
For example, in the case of racial discrimination, an employer will need to take appropriate measures to prevent racial slurs, racist jokes and other offensive practices among other employees.
They should also have an established process for investigating and addressing harassment.
Workplace policies must not be backhanded ways of discriminating
Finally, even objectively neutral policies and practices cannot unfairly impact employees of one race over another.
To give a common example, even if based on legitimate economic need, a layoff may be unlawful if it serves to weed out people of one race from a workplace.
While affirmative action and diversity policies are legal, employers should be careful to follow any guidelines pertaining to them.
Victims of employment discrimination may have options to receive compensation for their poor treatment.