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Race, Color, National Origin Discrimination

Race discrimination in the workplace is illegal. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 declared that it is illegal for an employer to treat employees differently because they are of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, certain facial features, certain physical attributes). Color discrimination happens when someone is treated unfavorably because of their skin color or complexion. Race or color discrimination can also happen when someone is closely associated with a person of another race, such as a spouse or child, or with an organization or group.

Race discrimination can take many forms. The following are most common:

  • Non-selection for a position
  • Non-promotion for a position
  • Unequal training
  • Job assignments
  • Pay
  • Firing
  • Different performance standards
  • Layoff
  • Fringe Benefits
  • Harassment
  • Any other term or condition of employment.


If you think you have been discriminated against because of your race, you have deadlines by which you must file a charge of discrimination. These deadlines depend on where you worked (or where you applied for a job, if you were an applicant). If you are a employee or applicant with the federal government or D.C. government, special rules apply.

To prove a race discrimination claim, you have to show that you were subjected to a personnel action and that the employer treated you differently because of your race. Because employers rarely admit that they discriminate, these cases can be difficult to prove. One of the most common methods of proving a discrimination claim involves disproving the employer’s alleged reasons for the action. For example, an employer might claim that it did not select a minority candidate for a vacant job posting because the candidate was not as qualified as the non-minority candidate. However, if we can prove that the minority candidate had equally good or better qualifications than the individual who was selected, we have presented evidence suggesting that the employer’s stated reasons are not the real reasons. This would be evidence of discrimination.

You can also prove race discrimination with evidence that the employer treated all racial minorities poorly. For example, if the employer has used racially derogatory terms to refer to a certain group of employees, and never promotes those employees, this would be evidence of discrimination.

If you work in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia, we can represent you. You must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with your local human rights office. The rules and procedures of each office are very different, so it is important that you talk with a lawyer to understand your rights and obligations.

If you think you have been the victim of racial or color discrimination and want to know your rights and options, contact us. During an initial consultation, we can evaluate whether you may have an employment discrimination claim, how to pursue and protect your rights, and identify what remedies may be available for you.


For internal use only