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Defining Race Discrimination

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Going to work is meant to be a fulfilling experience. The idea of completing a task and being financially compensated for it is something millions of people take part in — whether that be individuals working in the service, financial, aviation, or countless other industries.

While jobs vary by industry and position, one thing should be the same for all employees — the avoidance of discrimination.

Even though discrimination is illegal, many employees report this action happening. In fact, in 2021, a survey by Ten Spot, an employee engagement platform, found that 70% of workers reported experiencing at least one form of discrimination. Some of the most common forms of discrimination included age, religion, and race.

What is Race Discrimination?

Race discrimination is defined as the unfair or unequal treatment of an individual or group of individuals based on their ethnic, racial, or national origin. This includes discrimination in hiring, promotion, job assignment, wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. It can also include harassment that is directed at an individual or group because of their race or ethnicity.

There are many forms that race discrimination can take.

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination is a policy or practice that appears to be neutral and negatively impacts people of a particular race or ethnicity. For example, suppose an employer requires all employees to have a college degree. In that case, this may indirectly discriminate against black and Latino applicants who are less likely to have completed college than white applicants.

Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is when an employer has a policy or practice that is not intended to discriminate but has a negative impact on people of a particular race or ethnicity.


Harassment can include offensive comments or conduct that is directed at an individual because of their race or ethnicity. This can include things like racial slurs, jokes, or graffiti. It can also include physical conduct, like pushing or hitting someone.


Victimization is when someone suffers from worse treatment because they have made a complaint about race discrimination or have given evidence supporting someone else's discrimination claim.


Retaliation is when an employer takes action against an employee because they have complained about race discrimination or participated in an investigation of discrimination.

Federal and State Legislation

There are many federal and state laws that make race discrimination illegal. The most well-known law is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing Title VII. If you believe you have been the victim of race discrimination, you can file a complaint with the EEOC.

Most states also have laws that make race discrimination illegal, including Georgia and the District of Columbia. Many of the state laws apply to smaller employers than Title VII. Because every state handles claims differently, employees who have questions about their state’s fair employment practice agency should research their state’s equal employment enforcement laws.

Were You Discriminated Against Because of Your Race?

As shared, not only is race discrimination illegal, but it is also unethical. Those factors alone motivate countless employees to take action against their employers every year.

If you were discriminated against because of your race, there are many courses of action you can take. As stated above, filing a formal complaint is an essential step. Another avenue should also be consulting with an experienced race discrimination lawyer.

The employment attorneys at HDR Law are ready to help you during this trying time. Our team will discuss your legal options and help you understand your rights under the law. We will also walk you through the formal complaint process so you don’t have to do anything on your own. Reach out to our knowledgeable attorneys to get started on your case — (404) 341-4434