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Color Discrimination

Founding Member of Moshes Law, P.C.
During his years of practice, Yuriy has concentrated in litigation and real estate transactions as his areas of expertise.

Color Discrimination

Have you or a loved one been discriminated against based on the color of your skin in New York? If so, it is time to speak up and fight for your rights! The days when unfair treatment based on such irrational criteria have to end once and for all.

Our country has laws that protect you from color discrimination as well as institutions that enforce these laws. But before reaching out to them, you should consult a New York color discrimination lawyer to help you determine if your case meets the requirements for a discrimination case and if it qualifies for financial compensation.

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You should know that if your lawyer wins your case, your employer or any other person will be obliged to cease the discriminating acts in the future and pay you a financial award for the same acts from the past. The recovery shall compensate you for the stress and the pain you have suffered as a result of the color discrimination.

Even though the 21st century brought the first artificial heart, the technological revolution, and the discovery of water on Mars, the issue with color discrimination has existed for centuries. In fact, a 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 indicated that there is extensive race color discrimination in the hiring processes in developed European countries and in North America. To give you an idea of how bad it is, here’s the key finding: people of color from minority groups need to send around 50% more job applications to get an interview invitation compared to candidates from majority groups based on skin color.

If you think that you have been refused a job or a promotion, have been demoted in the hierarchy, or have been treated unfairly in any other situation in the workplace, you should know that you are protected by the law. But, you must take a pro-active approach to obtain justice. It doesn’t come to you.

It’s not a straightforward process, though, so it is wise to talk to a New York employment lawyer first. Learn what can be done in your case and then both of you can decide what is your best options are. Lawyers have the knowledge and the experience to determine what your best chances are and you should take advantage of it.

What is Color Discrimination?

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines colorism as treating someone unfavorably because of their skin color complexity. Skin color complexity includes the many shades of skin color.

You should know, however, that the meaning of color discrimination is not the same as race discrimination. There is a difference between the two.

What is the Difference Between Race and Color Discrimination?

The difference between race and color discrimination is in the difference between race and color. A race and a skin color is not the same thing. There are very few races, but many more skin colors.

The skin color can be a characteristic of race, but not necessarily. As we mentioned already, it may include all the shades of certain skin color. So, for example, there is one black race, but there are many different shades of black skin color.

Having said that, discriminating against someone because they are black, is race discrimination. But, treating someone unfavorably because her skin color is a certain shade of black is color discrimination, also known as shadeism. In some cases, a black person with a certain shade of skin color may discriminate against another black person with another shade of skin color – and that’s color discrimination.

What Laws Prevent Discrimination Against Color?

The US and New York legal systems maintain laws that prohibit discrimination based on race and color. Discrimination victims and their lawyers will likely choose to protect themselves by the provisions of the following two laws:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This act is one of the most notable and most important discrimination laws in the US. It protects job applicants from being discriminated on the base of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion. It prohibits discrimination based on color in all the employment decisions existing out there, including the process of recruitment, selection, employment termination, promotions, demotions, and others.

This is a federal law and is applicable in all US states equally, including New York.

The Civil Rights Act of 1991.

This act, in fact, amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with provisions regarding compensation due to discrimination.

To understand better how these laws could protect you against color discrimination, first, you have to understand where can discrimination occur and what you need to do when faced with it.

When Employees Can Face Color Discrimination?

For your case, the most important part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act is unlawful employment practices. It strictly prohibits discriminating any person based on skin color or race in:

  • Recruiting, Hiring, and Advancement. The employer must not decline a job offer, fire an employee, promote or demote an employee because of their skin color.
  • Compensation and Other Employment Terms, Conditions, and Privileges. Some employers are prone to offer worse contract terms to workers who belong to minority groups. That is prohibited.
  • Harassment. There are countless ways to create a hostile work environment
  • Retaliation. Employees have a right to be free from retaliation for their opposition to discrimination or their participation in an EEOC proceeding by filing a charge, testifying, assisting, or otherwise participating in an agency proceeding.
  • Segregation and Classification of Employees. All employees belong to the same workplace. The employer who segregates them or classifies them according to the skin color violates the laws.
  • Pre-Employment Inquiries and Requirements. Some employers attempt to set the employment requirements in a way that puts minority groups in a disadvantaged position.

However, some employers may legitimately ask you for your race or skin color in the recruitment process for race/color affirmative action purposes and/or to track applicant flow. Some will ask you what your color is because they want to include as much diversity in the workplace as possible, while others do it only for statistics purposes.

In the latter case, employers use the so-called tear-off sheets for identification of the applicant’s race. When you fill the application form, including the tear-off portion – the part where you indicate your race/color, the employer separates the tear-off from the rest of the application.

That way, in the selection process they don’t use the part where the color is stated, but they have it aside for statistics purposes.

Aside from clearly asking for your skin color, employers may employ more subtle ways to get such data. Personal background checks, particularly criminal history checks are among the most common. It is widely known that in the US certain minority groups are more often subject to incarceration. Hence, by doing background checks, employers may try to filter out members of these groups.

However, asking for a background check is not necessarily discrimination. They are not always a cause for discrimination in the workplace. You have to be aware that background checks are still a legitimate way for an employer to select the people they are going to work with. It is a lawful and sometimes mandatory way to screen candidates. But, they must do it in a way that does not discriminate. As long as they respect the provisions of Title VII, background checks are not an act of color discrimination.

What Should an Employee Do If He or She
Experiences or Witnesses Color Discrimination in the Workplace?

First and foremost, you have to evaluate whether your case is actually a discrimination case. You may try to learn yourself what color discrimination is and determine it yourself, or you can call a New York employment lawyer, tell them about your situation, and accept their advice. As longtime New York discrimination lawyers, we can put our experience and knowledge at your service. We have represented many people who have been discriminated on the base of color, hence we can estimate if your case qualifies for compensation or not.

If you still hesitate whether to call a lawyer or not, don’t just sit there and do nothing. Start to gather evidence to back up your complaint instead. Again, this is something a lawyer would do best, but if you want to do it yourself, start as soon as possible.

From there, you have two options: make an informal or formal complaint.

Informal Complaint.

Your lawyer will advise you to take this approach if:

  • You need a quick decision from your employer
  • The discrimination is not affecting you badly at the moment or
  • You are worried about how your employer might react to a formal complaint.

You can make an informal complaint by talking to your employer or someone you are supposed to talk to in such a situation. That person is likely to be your manager. If the person you need to talk to is actually the person that discriminates against you, then you’ll want to talk to someone else at work you think may help you. That may be any person in the workplace.

Make sure you schedule a meeting to make your complaint. Get your thoughts straight and know what you want to say. If you fear that you may forget something, make notes and read through them during the meeting.

You can also invite someone else to come to the meeting to support you or to take notes from the meeting. That may be a colleague or a union representative. Remember that your employer doesn’t have to agree with the presence of the other person. If they oppose, that may be a basis for more discrimination.

discrimination based on skin color

You’ll talk first at the meeting, make sure you explain to your employer the following:

  • What happened and why you think it was color discrimination;
  • Any evidence you have, such as intimidation email, harassment jokes on social media, etc.
  • How you want this issue solved.

Take notes of their reactions, particularly if they agree to something. Insist on setting a timeframe for taking anti-discriminatory action, so that you can hold them accountable and chase them if they fail to do what needs to be done.

The employer or manager is also likely to take notes, too. Make sure you ask for a copy of the notes. If they refuse to share it or didn’t take any notes at all, write them an email with your notes and ask them if they agree with them. If they confirm, that may be used in court later on, should there be a need for formal legal action.

And don’t quit if you don’t hear from him – send him a follow-up email and ask if they actually did something. Moreover, the non-responsiveness by the employer proves that the informal grievance gave no fruition and gives you a reason to proceed with a formal complaint.

Formal Complaint.

In some cases, it would be best to file a formal complaint right from the beginning. If the informal complaint got you nowhere, you’ll have no other choice.

The formal procedure goes through the following steps:

  • Request your employer to remove the discrimination in a written form.
  • If the discrimination continues, submit a complaint to the EEOC. remember that it must be submitted in 180 days after the incident. If you win, you’ll get monetary compensation.
  • If you are not happy with the decision by EEOC, you can file a lawsuit. If your lawyer wins it for you, you’ll be compensated as negotiated within the legal proceedings.

Whether you make a formal or informal complaint, your employer may try to settle at any stage of the procedure. They may offer you a certain amount of money as compensation for your pain and suffering due to the discrimination.

If you don’t have a lawyer by your side, this is a critical time to get advice by a professional. Before accepting or refusing an offer, make sure you talk to a lawyer to determine whether such compensation is adequate for your suffering. Employers are likely to offer you some quick money just to get rid of your complaint, but you shouldn’t accept it without knowing what’s the best you can get.

Case of Northwest Cosmetics Labs

There are thousands of color discrimination cases filed in the EEOC and federal courts every year. Only in 2018, the EEOC has resolved around 150,000 cases, bringing tens of millions in monetary compensation to the victims.

One of their most famous cases is the case of Northwest Cosmetics Labs, where the company was found to have discriminated against a woman based on color and national origin.

The young woman was a UK citizen of Zimbabwean heritage who had earned an internship in Northwest Cosmetics Labs along with two other Caucasian colleagues. When she arrived at the post, she had been told that they didn’t expect her to be black since she was a UK citizen. In the next few months, she barely had a task to do. Unlike her, the Caucasian interns got involved very much in the work of the company and got a lot of feedback and learning opportunities.

When a lawsuit was filed against the company, they agreed to pay her $30,000 as settlement and to introduce anti-discrimination policies and training in the workplace.

This is only one of the many thousands of cases that end up at the EEOC. When it comes to race and color discrimination, about one-fifth of the total amount of cases are related to race and color discrimination. In 2018, the color discrimination cases were only 4% of the total number. But, when you see that the actual number is over 3000 people discriminated on the base of skin color and you add up all those who fail to speak up, you’ll realize that this is a big issue and something must be changed.
If you or a loved one face color discrimination, then you have the opportunity to take action against your employer and serve as a good example to the disadvantaged and those who suffer injustice in silence.

The End

We know that it is not easy to gather the courage to make a complaint. You make a living from your job and to put it at stake by speaking up is a reasonable fear. But you also know that this cannot last forever and, sooner or later, you’ll have to tackle it.

You can start with a free and confidential consultation with our New York color discrimination lawyers. No one will know that you have talked to us and you’ll learn whether you have been discriminated against and how to get the financial recovery that you deserve – all that free of cost during our initial consultation.

Law Office of Yuriy Moshes

The Law Office of Yuriy Moshes will help you with your disability discrimination case and make sure that you’ll receive justice and proper compensation. Law Office of Yuriy Moshes helps victims in the greater New York City area including all of its boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island) as well as Northern New Jersey, Long Island, and Upstate New York.
Call us today at 888-445-0234. The initial consultation is free.

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