Race/National Origin Discrimination

What constitutes race discrimination?

Race discrimination involves treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because he or she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features.

What constitutes national origin discrimination?

National origin discrimination involves treating applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not).

What are some examples of race and national origin discrimination?

Race and national origin discrimination can occur at any point in the employment relationship from the job interview process to separation from employment. Below are some common examples from prior cases:



  Janitorial services provider recruited solely through media directed at Eastern European immigrants and hired people from those groups over Hispanics.   Investment management firm failed to hire an African American female applicant who exceeded all requirements for the job,  received highly favorable comments during third party assessment of her personality and aptitude and where company manager said she was "obviously qualified for the position."  

Customer Preference:

  Company which provided in-home nursing assistants to senior citizens coded the preferences of clients who requested white caregivers, and made assignments based on the preferences. For example, "circle dots" referred to the clients that preferred Caucasian caregivers.   Retail clothing store refused to let an Asian-American employee work in the front of the store because it believed the store's image with customers would be enhanced by having a white employee at the front of the store.   


  Motor carrier awarded Latino employees less favorable assignments, more difficult and demanding work, enforced break times more stringently, subjected their work to heightened scrutiny, and disciplined them for minor misconduct. Company also segregated employees into work groups based on race.   Packing company subjected Black employees to intimidation, ridicule, racially offensive comments and jokes, and cartoons and images that denigrated African-Americans. White employees and managers regularly emailed racially derogatory materials to coworkers, and posted racially offensive photographs on the bulletin board outside the human resources office.  

Job Segregation:

  Nightclub harassed, segregated and provided different terms and conditions of employment to two African-American door men because of their race. The managers of the club used racial slurs when speaking to the doormen, forced them to work in the back of the club instead of at the entrance, and complained that "black music makes the club look bad."   Delivery service company assigned Latino drivers to predominately Latino neighborhoods and white drivers to white neighborhoods.  Latino employees were assigned to more difficult and dangerous work than white employees.  

Terms and Conditions:

  White manager at automotive company used the "N-word" to refer to two Black employees and made racially derogatory comments and jokes on a near daily basis at the dealership. The same manager referred to one Black employee as a "gorilla" while the employee was holding a banana.  Manager also imposed stricter work-related rules upon the dealership's Black employees by disciplining them for conduct that non-Black employees were not disciplined for.   Asian Indian employee was subjected to ethnic taunts, such as being called "dot-head" and "Osama Bin Laden," and was physically attacked by a coworker who believed he was Bin Laden's brother. Employee was also denied training and promotional opportunities afforded to his white coworkers.  

Pay Disparity:

  Air Conditioner Manufacturer discriminated against its Hispanic employees where it paid them less than their Caucasian colleagues even when employees were in similarly situated positions.   Office products supplier failed to promote Asian-American account manager after promising to do so or increase his base salary despite good performance. Employee resigned and was replaced by two white account managers who were given higher base salaries.  

Same Race:

  Transportation shuttle service discriminated against Asian American drivers by hiring Asian immigrants from China and denying them more profitable routes while sending them to destinations where no passengers awaited pickup.   Black hospital director told Black subordinate that he only hired her because she is a Black woman and referred to her by race and gender slurs such as telling her to "get your Black ass out of here" and telling her that she better not file an EEOC complaint.  

National Origin:

  Technology company suspended and then fired an employee from Peru after she complained that a manager said that he "hated Hispanics" and that "people from South America are drug dealers."   Arab waiter suffered harassment from customers including from a customer who told him, "If you don't like it, why don't you go back to your country?" and "I fought two wars to get rid of people like you!"  

Should I file my complaint under state or federal law?

Employment discrimination is outlawed under both California law and federal law. However, state law is more pro-employee in many ways including the following

  Employers are strictly liable for discrimination by a supervisor whereas under federal law employers have a possible defense.
  Proving that the perpetrator of the discriminatory conduct falls within the definition of a supervisor is easier under state law.
  There is no cap on punitive or compensatory damages whereas under federal law there is a $300,000 limit for large employers.

These types of differences can make a major difference in the value of your case and so it is usually advantageous for an employee to file their discrimination claim under state law.

How long do I have to file my race or national origin discrimination claim?

Two time limits apply for filing race and national origin discrimination claims under California law. First, you must request a right to sue notice from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within one year of an adverse employment action. Secondly, you must file your lawsuit in state court within one year of obtaining the right to sue notice.

For instance, if you are terminated from employment on June 1, 2013 and obtain a right to sue letter on September 15, 2013 you would then have one year (until September 15, 2014) to file your discrimination lawsuit in state court.

How can an attorney help you?

An attorney can help navigate the complex process required to file and litigate a discrimination complaint. Our firm is well-versed in gathering initial facts, advising clients on their alternatives, preparing a complaint, and litigating a discrimination case until resolution. Remember: no recovery, no fees. We only get paid if we obtain a positive recovery in your case.
Socal Employment Counsel - Representing Employees in Workplace Disputes Throughout Southern California
We can review the facts of your case and give you an honest evaluation of any race discrimination issue you are facing. 

Phone: 213.275.2018

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