There is no hiding it: racism and discrimination continue to pollute the world we live in, from city streets to office suites. Every day, our law firm receives calls from California employees who have been treated differently because if skin color. When it comes to dealing with discrimination against black workers, a good attorney can help someone who has been wronged recover financial damages, and in the process, demand justice.
This article was written to discuss workplace discrimination as it specifically relates to black workers. If you are an African American who feels he or she has been treated unlawfully by an employer, call our office so that Mr. Robertson can take a look at the facts of your case.
Discrimination Against Black Workers – What the Law Says
While the Federal Civil Rights Act provides strong protections against workplace discrimination, California attorneys usually rely on the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This law mirrors federal law, but provides stronger protection and better financial compensation.
Section 12940 of FEHA states that it is unlawful employment practice for a company to deny employment, based on a person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, or other characteristics. More specifically, FEHA states it is illegal to “refuse to hire or employ the person or to refuse to select the person for a training program leading to employment…or to discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.”
Examples of Discrimination
There are countless ways for workplace discrimination against black employees to occur. To be considered discrimination, the offending behavior must target an employee (or employees) based on protected characteristics (skin color, nationality, race, etc.). Examples can include:
- Preferred assignments given to non-black employees
- Racist or inappropriate jokes
- Wrongful termination due to race
- Generalizing language (“You people…”)
- Comments about natural hair (Why do you wear dreadlocks?)
- Policies prohibiting natural hair styles
- Denial of promotional opportunities
- MicromanagementExcessive writeups targeting black employees
Fighting Against Black Workplace Discrimination
There are times when workers call our office to share their stories, and despite having experienced clear discrimination, these employees are still hesitant to tell us everything. Oftentimes, they will say they don’t want to “play the race card.”
Sometimes, we need to assure potential clients that California’s anti-discrimination laws were designed for a reason. There is nothing wrong with a black employee standing up for his or her rights. A company that is hit with financial consequences for engaging in (or ignoring) discrimination will think twice before allowing that behavior to happen again.
Financial Compensation for Victims
No attorney can predict the amount of money an employee will win in a discrimination lawsuit. There are just too many variables to consider when dealing with something as complicated as the legal system. However, it is possible to discuss the different types of compensation available. These include:
Lost Wages – This type of compensation is granted to black employees who experience wrongful termination as the result of discrimination. The award is figured by determining the employee’s wages at the time of termination multiplied by the amount of time he or she was unable to find work. For example, an employee making $75,000 at the time of termination who is unable to find work for three years could be entitled to $225,000 in lost wages.
Pain and Suffering – This is compensation awarded for the suffering a black employee experiences due to discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination. Pain and suffering can include: depression, anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, physical injuries, PTSD, migraines, and other physical or mental ailments. The amount an employee is awarded will often be determined after testimony from medical and mental health experts.
Punitive Damages – These are the high dollar amounts that make headlines. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in the tens of millions of dollars. They are also exceedingly rare. A company hit with punitive damages must be shown to have acted with malice, fraud or oppression—the burden of proof for this legal standard is very high.
Free Consultation & Contingency Fees
While our office gets a high volume of daily calls and is unable to provide free advice, our office does offer free consultations. This means there is no charge to speak with an intake specialist, and have attorney Branigan Robertson review the facts of your case.
If Mr. Robertson believes you have a case worth pursuing, he might be able to represent you on a contingency basis. This means you do not pay out-of-pocket fees.
If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment in the workplace because you are black, give Branigan Robertson a call, and find out how he can help.