Steps Workers Can Take if they are Experiencing Racial Discrimination in the workplace
Native American workers who are being discriminated against or experiencing harassment at work may feel like they don’t have any options to make the discrimination stop. But you don’t have to change jobs or make any drastic moves just to feel safe at work. You are legally protected from discrimination and harassment at work. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act specifies that employers cannot discriminate against workers because of their race, sex, religion, or place of birth. That means it’s a Federal crime for an employer to discriminate against you.
To protect the rights of workers the government created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC’s only job is to investigate cases of workplace discrimination and abuse. The EEOC has jurisdiction in all 50 states because it’s a Federal agency. In 44 states the EEOC has an agreement wo share information with the state labor authorities. That means if you file a complaint against your employer in one of those states the EEOC will send copies of all your documents to the state so they can investigate that employer also to see if any state laws have been broken.
What Are Examples of Racial Discrimination?
Racial discrimination can take many forms, but some of the common ones are:
Being Passed Over For Raises Or Promotions
Employees are supposed to be getting raises on a regular basis and have the opportunity to promote as well. If you are denied advancement opportunities and you’re not getting regularly scheduled raises that other people are getting that’s discrimination.
If you are an hourly worker and your hours have been steadily reduced and those hours are being given to other employees that could be discrimination, especially if you are available for those hours but are not given the hours.
Racial slurs, offensive imagery, or racially charged language
Racism against Native Americans is ingrained in the culture and unfortunately that sometimes results in workplace harassment and bullying. If you are being targeted for bullying or if your coworkers and bosses make “jokes” about Native Americans, promote unfair and offensive stereotypes of Native people, or in any way bully or harass you because you are Native American that’s discrimination.
Paying some employees less than others
If you are being paid less than your coworkers who do the same job that you do and have similar qualifications that’s discrimination.
Next Steps to Take
Any time that you are the victim of discrimination or bullying at work it’s important to document it. It may be more comfortable sometimes to ignore it but you need proof of what is happening to you. Take photos, screen shots, or videos of any evidence that can support your claim of discrimination. Keep copies of your schedule, your paystubs, performance reviews, or any other documentation that could prove what you’re experiencing. Take copies of everything that you have to the HR department and to your boss. Show them what you have and demand they do something about the harassment and discrimination. If they say that you are overreacting or misunderstood what happened or in any dismiss your legitimate concerns go directly to the EEOC’s website to file a complaint or call and file a complaint on the phone.
You can also file a complaint on the state level too. In Montana, you can file a discrimination complaint with the Human Rights Bureau (HRB). When you file a discrimination complaint on the state level in Montana, It will be dual filed with the EEOC, that way you don’t have to file two complaints.
Remedies for Racial Discrimination
Employers can face big consequences for violating the Civil Rights Act. In addition to hefty fines they may need to pay employees back wages or give them a raise or a promotion. If workers have been bullied or harassed, they also could be given monetary damages for pain and suffering.