If you feel you have been discriminated against in the workplace because of your race, color or nationality, it’s important to understand that federal law is on your side even if state law may not be.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against any employee because of his or her race, whether that individual is a job applicant or current employee. That means your race should never come in to play in regards to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other condition of employment. Title VII also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions about the abilities, traits or performance of certain racial groups.
Under Title VII, the law applies to all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions that employ 15 or more individuals. It also affects private and public employment agencies, labor organizations and joint labor management committees.
In addition, racial harassment falls under race discrimination law. If a supervisor or colleague degrades you because of your race, repeatedly makes racist jokes or comments, threatens your physical well-being or career, or performs any other racially-motivated behavior that creates a hostile work environment, Title VII protects your right to file suit against your harasser.
State Racial Discrimination Laws
In addition, the majority of states prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace. However, Georgia falls in the minority – the state has only a few discrimination statutes and most have limited damages and cannot be filed on behalf of an individual. In addition, Georgia does not have a state anti-discrimination statute covering private employees, although it does for state employees, and it does not have a state administrative agency to oversee discrimination claims.
If you are an employee in Georgia and the victim of racial discrimination, you are still protected under Title VII. While in most cases you won’t be able to file a claim under Georgia law, you can file a charge with the local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office in Atlanta or Savannah. Last year, 42.5 percent of all EEOC claims filed from Georgia were race discrimination cases.
By consulting an experienced employment lawyer, you’ll have a dedicated partner who can help you understand federal racial discrimination law and guide you through the steps needed to take your employer to court for basing your employment conditions on the color of your skin instead of your accomplishments and skills.