Discrimination Based On Race And National Origin Is Illegal
It is illegal under U.S. and Pennsylvania law to be fired, demoted, or denied a job because of your race, color, or ethnicity. Sadly, however, racial and ethnic workplace discrimination still occurs regularly in companies across America. That’s not acceptable. No one deserves to be shut out of a job or career because of their skin color or national origin.
Instead, you have a right to equal employment opportunities regardless of your race, color, or ethnicity. If you believe that you were fired or denied a job or promotion because of your race or national origin, CONTACT MY FIRM, Mansour Law, LLC, online or call 610-936-6863 for a FREE CONSULTATION. My team is ready to help!
What Is Workplace Race Or National Origin Discrimination?
Race or ethnic discrimination at work happens when you are treated negatively by your employer because of your race or ethnicity. Examples of negative discriminatory actions include:
- Refusal to hire or promote
- Pay or benefit disparity
- Bullying or harassment
- Unwarranted discipline or job scrutiny
What Laws Prohibit This Type Of Discrimination?
Race and ethnicity discrimination at work is prohibited by several state and federal laws. At the federal law, there are three (3) laws that prohibit race or ethnicity discrimination at work:
- 42 U.S.C. Section 1981, which prohibits race discrimination only and applies to all public and private employers;
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), which prohibits race and national origin discrimination and applies to all public and private employers;
- 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, which prohibits race and national origin discrimination, but only applies to public employers.
At the state level, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”) also prohibits race and national origin discrimination and applies to all public and private employers with at least four employees. Some cities and towns, like Philadelphia and Allentown, have their own laws prohibiting racial and ethnic discrimination at work. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) enforces Title VII. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”) enforces the PHRA.
All of these laws generally apply to the same kind of discriminatory behavior in the workplace. The difference lies in how large your employer is:
- Title VII applies only to employers with at least 15 employees.
- The PHRA applies only to Pennsylvania employers with at least four employees.
- Local laws apply to employers of various sizes depending on where you are located
Who Is Protected From Workplace Race Or National Origin Discrimination?
All employees are protected against workplace discrimination based on their race or ethnic background. Under the PHRA, independent contractors are also protected from such discrimination. Interestingly, the law doesn’t just protect racial or ethnic minorities from discrimination, but all employees, regardless of race, color, or ancestry. Therefore, white or Caucasian employees may also have a claim for race discrimination if they can prove that they were discriminated against because of their color or race.
How Is Workplace Race Or National Origin Discrimination?
To prove workplace race or ethnicity discrimination, you must typically show that:
- You are a member of a certain race or ethnic group
- You were qualified for the position you sought or held
- You suffered a negative employment action (e.g., termination, demotion, pay cut, etc.)
- You were replaced by someone of a different race or ethnicity or treated better than someone of a different race or ethnicity
Once you present evidence of these four facts, your employer must show that its negative decision was based on some legitimate reason other than your race, color, or national origin. If and when your employer presents this evidence, the burden shifts back to you to prove that the reason provided is false.
Determining and finding the evidence you need to prove racial or ethnic discrimination is difficult. An experienced employment discrimination lawyer can help you find the evidence you need to prove your claim.
How Do You File A Race Or National Origin Discrimination Claim?
Title VII and PHRA both require racial and ethnic discrimination victims to file their claims with the EEOC or the PHRC before going to court. This is called “exhausting administrative remedies.”
If you file your race or national origin discrimination claim with the EEOC in Pennsylvania, it will automatically be filed with the PHRC. The same is true if you file first with the PHRC. While you are not required to have an attorney in order to file the complaint, hiring an experienced workplace discrimination lawyer is crucial to your success. Even at this preliminary stage, you must navigate many complex rules and procedures. Therefore, failure to do so can harm your case.
What Is The Deadline To File A Complaint With The EEOC Or PHRC?
To protect your racial or ethnic discrimination claims under Title VII and PHRA, you must file a complaint with the EEOC or the PHRC within 180 days of your employer’s negative action (e.g., termination, demotion, pay cut). If you file your discrimination claim with the EEOC, it will automatically be filed with the PHRC. The same is true if you file first with the PHRC.
If you miss the 180-day deadline, you can still protect your federal race or national origin discrimination claim under Title VII. To do so, you must file your complaint with the EEOC within 300 days of your employer’s negative action. However, you will lose your PHRA claim.
If you do not file your complaints by these deadlines, you may lose your claims forever. That’s why it is important to have an experienced workplace discrimination attorney handle the process for you.
How Long After Filing A Complaint With The EEOC Or PHRC Can You Sue Your Employer?
If you file your complaint with the EEOC, you must give the EEOC at least 180 days to investigate your race or national origin discrimination complaint. If the EEOC has not completed its investigation within that time, you may request a “Notice of Right to Sue.” This letter from the EEOC gives you the right to file a race or ethnicity discrimination lawsuit against your employer in court. Once you receive this letter, you must file your lawsuit within 90 days.
If you file your racial or ethnic discrimination complaint with the PHRC, you must give the PHRC at least one year to investigate your complaint before you can sue your employer in court.
What Kind Of Damages Can Be Recovered For A Racial Or Ethnic Discrimination Claim?
Generally, there are three types of damages you can recover for your race or ethnicity discrimination claim:
- Economic damages (past and future lost wages)
- Compensatory damages (emotional distress and humiliation)
- Punitive damages (to punish the employer for intentional misconduct)
Title VII and the PHRA place limits on the kinds and amounts of damages you can recover if you are illegally discriminated against at work. Under Title VII, for example, there is no cap on economic damages. However, the combined amount of compensatory and punitive damages you can recover is limited based on the size of your employer:
- For employers with 15-100 employees, the combined limit is $50,000.
- For employers with 101-200 employees, the combined limit is $100,000.
- For employers with 201-500 employees, the combined limit is $200,000.
- For employers with more than 500 employees, the combined limit is $300,000.
Like Title VII, the PHRA does not limit economic damages. Unlike Title VII, however, the PHRA does not limit your compensatory damages and does not allow punitive damages.
Under 42 U.S.C. Sections 1981 and 1983, however, there are no limits on any of these damages.
The different types of damages available to you under Title VII and the PHRA can be confusing. That is why you should retain an experienced Pennsylvania employment discrimination lawyer to help you recover the full extent of your damages.
How Long Will It Take To Resolve A Discrimination Case?
Generally, discrimination cases resolve within two years. Some cases may resolve in as little as six months while others may take several years. Your specific case, however, may take more or less time. This will depend on several factors, including:
- The nature and complexity of your case
- The number of people you sue
- The number of witnesses
- Whether your employer has insurance to cover the claim
- The kinds and amounts of damages you are claiming
- The court where you file your lawsuit
- The willingness of your employer to settle your case
If you handle your race or ethnicity discrimination case on your own, it can take a lot longer to resolve. This can cause a lot of uncertainty, stress, and wasted time. In order to make sure that your case is moving toward resolution, it is necessary to have an experienced workplace discrimination lawyer by your side.