Racial Harassment in the Workplace

It is unlawful for an employer to harass another employee based on that employee’s race. An employee can show that he or she is being harassed for race if the employee is a member of a protected class (in this case the protected class is race), employee experienced unwelcome harassment due to his or her race, and the harassment severely interfered with his or her employment as it created a hostile and offensive work environment. Racial harassment is very similar to sexual harassment, except the protected category is race rather than sex.

What is Racial Harassment?

Racial harassment occurs when there is racial or ethnic slurs, the distribution of racially offensive writings, and even treating a person differently and poorly because of that person’s race, and the harassment must be routine and repeated. But each case is different. Racial comments may be harassment in one case, but not in another case. You need to speak with an employment lawyer to find out if what you went through constitutes legal harassment.

The below video is all about hostile work environments (which includes race harassment). It provides a fantastic overview of CA’s law.

What Is the Employer’s Responsibility?

If the employee complains to the employer about racial discrimination or harassment, the employer has a duty to prevent further occurrences and remedy the harassment. If the employer fails to prevent it from happening again, then the employer may become legally liable for any damages that result. An employer is usually automatically liable if a supervisor is the one doing the harassing.

Race Harassment Example Case: Duffy v. City of Los Angeles

Here is an interesting case to come out the state court docket this year. Plaintiff was a Caucasian/white male who worked as a gardener for the City, the defendant. He was employed with the defendant for nineteen years. For the last several years of his employment, Plaintiff was experiencing racial harassment in the workplace for being white by his co-workers. On one occasion, one of his Hispanic co-workers told him that he hates white people and would never offer Plaintiff assistance in the workplace.

The harassment increased after Plaintiff was injured on the job. The defendant denied all of this and basically argued that it never happened. The jury unanimously found in favor of the Plaintiff for disability and racial harassment among other things and awarded the Plaintiff a gross verdict of over $3,000,000.

Duffy v. City of LA just goes to show that the laws protect everyone regardless of their race. At the end of the day, if you are being discriminated and harassed in the workplace, and you think it is because of your race or national origin, contact an employee rights attorney for a free consultation.

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