Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

What is the Law Regarding Racial Discrimination by Employers?

If you are a target of racial discrimination at your place of work, that discrimination needs to stop now. A San Francisco racial discrimination attorney will help you stop it.

What constitutes illegal workplace racial discrimination under federal and state law? How do you know if you should file a workplace racial discrimination claim? What steps should you take? What will a San Francisco employment rights lawyer do on your behalf?

Keep reading this short discussion of workplace racial discrimination and your rights, and you’ll find the answers to these questions, but if you are personally confronting racial discrimination at work, you should arrange at once to discuss your rights with a California employment lawyer.

Is There Still Workplace Racial Discrimination in California?

As recently as 2022, Anna Park, an attorney for the Los Angeles district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) told the Los Angeles Times: “We are seeing an increase in larger race harassment cases.” She also said, “There’s a more blatant display of hatred . . . manifesting in the employment context.”

Since 2012, the EEOC has won settlements in 171 racial discrimination cases involving black employees, 59 cases involving Latino victims, twelve cases involving Asian employees, and six cases that involved white victims.

How is Workplace Racial Discrimination Expressed?

Racial discrimination at the workplace may take many forms, including but not limited to:

  1.  assigning undesirable tasks on the basis of race
  2.  discrimination in hiring, promotions, terminations, and layoffs
  3.  unequal discipline
  4.  unequally compensating employees on the basis of their race
  5.  verbal racial harassment

What Laws Prohibit Workplace Racial Discrimination?

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for employers with fifteen or more employees to discriminate against an employee on the basis of that employee’s race, religion, gender, or national origin.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of 1959 is the California statute that makes it unlawful for employers in this state to discriminate on the basis of someone’s race.

FEHA also makes unlawful any workplace discrimination based on an employee’s ethnicity, mental or physical condition or disability, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, gender identity or expression, or veteran or military status.

Employers are legally obligated to ensure their employees are not subjected to discrimination, harassment, or a hostile work environment. In some cases, employers who fail to protect employees from discrimination may be held liable and ordered to compensate those employees.

How Can You Stop Workplace Racial Discrimination?

If you’re a target of workplace racial discrimination in this state, a racial discrimination lawyer will help you file a discrimination claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

To stop the workplace racial discrimination you may be facing, that is the first step. Be aware that there are filing deadlines for workplace racial discrimination claims, so if you’re a victim of that discrimination, you will need to act quickly. You must file your claim with either:

  1.  the DFEH within one year of a discrimination incident
  2.  the EEOC within 300 days of a discrimination incident

How Do the DFEH and EEOC Handle Workplace Racial Discrimination Claims?

After an investigation of your workplace racial discrimination claim, the DFEH or EEOC may ask you and your employer to agree to take part in mediation. However, your claim may be rejected if you have missed the filing deadline or if the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction.

If your workplace racial discrimination claim is resolved through mediation and you are pleased with the settlement, you will not need to take further action. Should your claim be rejected or if no settlement can be reached through mediation, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf.

You can’t file a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit without taking these first steps. Both federal and state law require you to “exhaust” the “administrative” remedies before a federal or state court will hear a workplace racial discrimination case.

The best strategy for dealing with racial discrimination at your place of work is to have the advice and guidance of a San Francisco racial discrimination attorney from the very beginning of your efforts to stop the discrimination.

How is a Workplace Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Handled?

If the EEOC dismisses your discrimination claim and sends you a “Notice of Right to Sue,” you have ninety days to file a lawsuit in federal court. If your claim is dismissed by the DFEH, you have one year to bring a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit in the California courts.

California protects employment rights more extensively than most other states, and California law generally protects employment rights more comprehensively than federal law, so it may be better to take your claim to a state court. Your lawyer will discuss all of your options with you.

If you file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer and the lawsuit prevails, you may recover lost wages, damages for emotional pain and suffering, and in the most egregious cases, punitive damages meant to deter the employer from practicing discrimination in the future.

What Will It Cost to Take Legal Action?

If your employer is discriminating against you because of your race, discuss the details with a San Francisco employment rights lawyer. An employment rights lawyer will review your concerns to determine if you have sufficient grounds for taking legal action against the employer.

In California, employment rights lawyers represent clients on a contingent fee basis, so if you and your lawyer file a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit, you will not owe any lawyer’s fee until – and unless – you are compensated with an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict.

Employment rights attorneys also provide a free first case evaluation, without any obligation, so it costs nothing to learn how the law applies in your own case. If you are encountering racial discrimination at work, take advantage of this opportunity to receive personalized legal advice.

What Else Should You Know?

Although it persists, the State of California does not tolerate workplace racial discrimination. If you are a target of that discrimination, stand up for your rights, take the steps necessary to stop the discrimination, and the law will be on your side.

Do not let anyone bully you, intimidate you, or discriminate against you. Instead, schedule a free case evaluation promptly with a California employment rights attorney, and put the law to work for you.

Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.