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Systemic Racial Hostility or Discrimination in the Workplace


It is difficult to work in an environment where you may be treated unfairly because of your race. Racism in the workplace is not always overt – it will be unlikely that there is a policy in place that favors one race over another. But deliberate actions by management or staff motivated by malice, favoritism, or preference, may be creating a racially hostile or discriminatory workplace.

This can unfortunately occur even in a heavily unionized industry with a very large employer, to a federal employee, or with a large employer that is a national leader in its industry, as illustrated by some of the cases below handled by Litigation, P.C.

Black employee in a Caucasian dominated role was disparately treated by management despite being heavily unionized

An African American employee with senior status in a union-strong industry was being denied the opportunity to work particular assignments that allowed for bonuses. He was one of the few African American employees in his position. Management could not provide a legitimate reason for assigning this employee to the spots that did not have any bonuses.

He would also be taken off the schedule and replaced by Caucasian employees who wanted more hours. The employer’s records showed that this Black employee was regularly being provided less work and overtime than all his Caucasian counterparts.

Although the employer’s work performance records showed that this employee was one of the fastest, safest, and efficient employees in that role, the Caucasian management staff would regularly reassign this Black employee to partner with various coworkers, when Caucasian counterparts were given steady partner assignments. The performance metrics of both the partners affected the employees’ future assignments and bonuses. Caucasian management knew that the partners relied on each other and regularly denied the Black employee with his choice of partner in favor of the Caucasian employees.

When the employee sought reasonable accommodations for physical pain he was suffering, the Caucasian management made him jump through hoops by requiring additional medical documentation, when Caucasian employees were immediately granted the same accommodations without any formal medical documentation or request. The management then went on to just ignore the recommendations of the employee’s African American physician – despite the doctor being well renowned and respected in the medical field.  The employee’s request was denied without invoking the interactive process to determine whether the employer could accommodate his disabilities.

As soon as the employee complained about his unfair treatment based on his race, the Caucasian management made sure the employee’s partner selection was changed, denied him his time off that he was entitled under the union agreement, and denied him his pay that he was also entitled to under the union agreement.

Once the employee made a formal complaint for racism, the Caucasian management marked the complaint as “received”, and filed it away without conducting any formal investigation or taking any other affirmative action in response to the complaint.

Federal Black employee constantly singled out, ridiculed, and harassed by the racial majority, putting his life in danger in the workplace

An African American employee was regularly harassed and treated unfairly by the predominantly Caucasian and Hispanic staff and management. This got worse after he complained about the racially hostile events.

The Black employees would be taunted by the other staff chanting “Black lives matter”, or “Black lives don’t matter”. Images of Trayvon Martin were displayed in breakrooms, along with confederate memorabilia. Nooses were drawn on photographs of Black employees. Racial notes would be left on Black employees’ desks or nooses left on vehicles.

The employee was only given a promotion after he made a formal complaint about racism in the workplace, but after he was given the promotion, he was asked to withdraw his complaint.

That promotion was the only one he was given out of the 70+ applications he made, despite the employer acknowledging that he was the “best qualified” in over a third of them. In the employee’s performance reviews, Caucasian and Hispanic management intentionally refused to completely fill out the information that was readily available to them. The reviews were used by the employer for promotions.

The Black employee was denied his assigned safety equipment by a Caucasian employee who was upset that the Black employee made complaints about the racial misconduct of other Caucasian employees. The Black employee was denied his equipment for over two years, when it was necessary to prevent injury and death, and the ability to perform his duties.

When the employee was involved in an incident outside of the workplace, the employer failed to follow the guidelines of the union agreement in its response. Dozens of other Caucasian and Hispanic employees who were involved in substantially worse off- and on-duty events were provided preferential treatment – they were never reassigned to other duties or otherwise demoted or denied any pay. In fact, many subsequently received multiple promotions. On the other hand, management handled the Black employee’s event in a humiliating way so that the other staff members could see that something had occurred, and he was denied overtime for several years.

The employee was reassigned and effectively demoted to another position because of this event, but he was not provided any training or the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to be able to perform his new duties, which further placed his life and safety in jeopardy.

In another incident during the COVID pandemic, the Black employee was denied his booster shot by the Caucasian/Hispanic management even though the employer was considered an “essential employer”.  The employee was only given the booster shot after he reached out to his Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor to file an EEO complaint.

At one point, the management told the Black employee to spend the day at work in an isolated empty room, where he was forced to stare at the wall for his entire 8 hour shift.

The employee was transferred multiple times, and the last time, he was transferred to a position that did not require his originally missing safety equipment by the “head boss”, for the employee’s “safety”, rather than the “head boss” investigating why the employee had never received his equipment for years.

The stress, anxiety, and emotional distress at work was so great that the employee was ultimately hospitalized. Afterwards, when the employee was on medically approved leaves of absences related to his medical reasons, the management or HR would fail to mark him on approved leave, causing him to just be absent from work.

The Black employee was otherwise ridiculed, threatened with disciplinary action, or the victim of similar misconduct and disparate treatment by his Hispanic and Caucasian superiors in many other instances.

Black employee of a national leader in its industry constantly assigned to manual labor tasks while the Hispanic employees got preferential treatment from their Hispanic supervisor, and retaliated against for complaining to HR

A Black employee worked in a department that was predominantly Hispanic.

As a new employee, she performed her job duties with the utmost professionalism and diligence. Her former supervisor said she was a hard worker, and that she never complained about any duties or assignments. She was in fact nominated for a higher position with higher pay. Even though this employee was promoted, she was not given the increased pay.

The employee left work one day due to pain. She also informed her supervisor that she was having a problem being the subject of gossip and discrimination by her Hispanic coworkers. The supervisor mentioned this to HR.

The Black employee and other African American employees in the same role were not given access to all the equipment necessary to perform their duties. Hispanic management selectively enforced the dress code only against Black employees. The Black employees were unfairly always assigned to do the manual labor tasks.

A day or two later, the employee sent an extensive email to HR outlining the discriminatory treatment she was experiencing. The Hispanic supervisor was assigning all the “easier” or less physically demanding tasks (such as computer work) to the Hispanic employees, who would be allowed to take the entire shift to complete a 2 hour task. The Black employee, on the other hand, would be constantly reassigned for taking too long, and she would always be the first to be assigned to the physically demanding tasks. The Hispanic employees would bring in treats as “bribes” for the Hispanic supervisor in the morning, and would refuse to help the Black employee because they knew the supervisor would be on their side.

HR did nothing in response to the employee’s complaint.  They did not speak with the employee. Instead, the Hispanic supervisor gathered everyone in a “meeting” and told everyone to “stop the gossip” and “get along”.

The Black employee’s complaint that she was unfairly always being assigned the physical work was not addressed. At some point, the Hispanic supervisor and HR agreed to rotate duties so the manual labor was equally distributed to all the employees, but the new process was never implemented. The Black employee continued to be assigned to manual labor, while the Hispanic employees who brought “treats” for their Hispanic supervisor always got assigned to the computer.

The employee was also retaliated against after making her formal complaint to HR.  She was regularly assigned to the manual labor task without the ability to use any machinery, such as the forklifts that were readily available. She was written up for attendance and more “points” were taken away than what was outlined in the employer’s attendance policy, in order to escalate the disciplinary action against her. Worse, she was written up for taking leave for being ill, weeks before she had complained to HR.

The reprisal caused the employee to file another complaint with HR, stating that the environment has gotten worse since she made her initial complaint. Two days later, her Hispanic coworkers wrote “BLACK” and “NEGRO” (Spanish for “black”) in huge letters on boxes in the employee’s workspace – the writing of colors on boxes was not part of any legitimate business process. Her Hispanic supervisor wrote her up again for unexcused absences without any justification. And even though HR knew the supervisor incorrectly wrote her up, they did nothing.

The employee was ultimately forced to quit due to the emotional distress she was suffering from, after HR and the employer refused to address her concerns.

A Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer can help you if your employer discriminated against you over a period of many years.  Contact Litigation, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call 424-284-2401.

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