Discrimination on the Basis of Race and/or Color...
Our firm is often called upon to represent employees who have been discriminated against due to race or color. These cases frequently involve termination from employment, but often involve other actions such as failure to promote, or unequal application of policies such as discipline or compensation. Race discrimination cases are somewhat unique because there are several laws that may be utilized to pursue claims of discrimination against an employer. The oldest of these laws is the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The other most commonly used statutes in Florida are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. It is important to understand the interplay among these laws and to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of each when pursuing a claim. For example, each of these laws has different limitations periods within which legal action must be taken. At the Law Offices of Archibald J. Thomas, III, P.A. we have been handling cases of discrimination based on race or color against employers for over 25 years. Our lawyers can fully explain the various laws that protect employees and answer any questions or concerns regarding the applicability of these laws to any given set of circumstances. Since these laws can be very complex, it is important to have a clear understanding of your rights and legal options when considering the possibility of pursuing legal action. Call us today if you would like to discuss any of these issues with one of our lawyers.
Overview of Title VII
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of race and color as well as national origin, sex, or religion. It is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race or color in regard to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training, or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment. Title VII also prohibits employment decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions about abilities, traits, or the performance of individuals of certain racial groups.
Title VII prohibits both intentional discrimination and neutral job policies that disproportionately exclude minorities and that are not job related.
Equal employment opportunity cannot be denied because of marriage to or association with an individual of a different race; membership in or association with ethnic based organizations or groups; attendance or participation in schools or places of worship generally associated with certain minority groups; or other cultural practices or characteristics often linked to race or ethnicity, such as cultural dress or manner of speech, as long as the cultural practice or characteristic does not materially interfere with the ability to perform job duties.
Generally speaking, these same principles also apply to claims brought under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 found at 42 U.S.C. §1981.
Race Related Characteristics and Conditions
Discrimination on the basis of an immutable characteristic associated with race, such as skin color, hair texture, or certain facial features violates Title VII, even though not all members of the race share the same characteristic. Title VII also prohibits discrimination on the basis of a condition which predominantly affects one race unless the practice is job related and consistent with business necessity. For example, since sickle cell anemia predominantly occurs in African Americans, a policy which excludes individuals with sickle cell anemia is discriminatory unless the policy is job related and consistent with business necessity. Similarly, a “no beard” employment policy may discriminate against African American men who have a predisposition to pseudofolliculitis barbae (severe shaving bumps) unless the policy is job related and consistent with business necessity.
Even though race and color clearly overlap, they are not synonymous. Thus, color discrimination can occur between persons of different races or ethnicities, or between persons of the same race or ethnicity. Although Title VII does not define “color,” the courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission read “color” to have its commonly understood meaning – pigmentation, complexion, or skin shade or tone. Thus, color discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against based on the lightness, darkness, or other color characteristic of the person. Title VII prohibits race/color discrimination against all persons, including Caucasians.
Title VIIʹs protections include: Recruiting, Hiring, and Advancement. Job requirements must be uniformly and consistently applied to persons of all races and colors. Even if a job requirement is applied consistently, if it is not important for job performance or business needs, the requirement may be found unlawful if it excludes persons of a certain racial group or color significantly more than others. Examples of potentially unlawful practices include: (1) soliciting applications only from sources in which all or most potential workers are of the same race or color; (2) requiring applicants to have a certain educational background that is not important for job performance or business needs; (3) testing applicants for knowledge, skills or abilities that are not important for job performance or business needs.
Since a claim of discrimination must first be filed with either the EEOC or the Florida Commission on Human Relations before the claim may be pursued in court, it is important to know the time limits involved and to be aware of the various procedures followed by the EEOC and the Florida Commission. You can go to our links page and click on the link to the EEOC or FCHR websites for more information regarding these issues. You are also welcome to schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers to discuss this and any other issues relating to your claim in more detail.