Race Discrimination

Race discrimination happens when an employer makes employment decisions based on your race instead of your skills or how well you do your job. Race discrimination also happens when your employer has everyday policies that are not related to job qualifications or performance but end up impacting or leaving out members of a particular race. 

Federal law against race discrimination does not allow employers with more than 15 employees to use race as a basis for hiring, firing, promotion, pay, job training, or for any other term or condition of employment or job benefit. The law does not allow employers to make decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about abilities, traits, or work performance of any particular racial group. New York State and New York City laws do not allow race discrimination at even smaller places of business and covers workplaces where there are more than 4 employees. 

Here are just a few examples of race discrimination: 

  • You fill out a job application that asks about your race, you indicate you are of a particular race, and you don’t get the job for that reason; 
  • You are scheduled for a promotion and your boss decides to hire or promote a less-qualified person of another race; 
  • You work for a company that has clients in parts of the world that are known to hate members of a particular race, and your boss decides that members of that race should not hold positions where they have to deal with these clients; 
  • A company posts their job listings in places that will only reach applicants of a particular race; 
  • You are getting great performance reviews, but you are being paid less than other similarly qualified employees of another race who have been there just as long; 
  • Your employer downsizes, but most of the employees laid off are of a particular race; 
  • Big accounts or clients are being steered to workers of a particular race; 
  • You are left out of strategy meetings in favor of workers of a particular race. 

Legal Editor: Steven T. Sledzik, January 2015 (updated December 2018)

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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