Curt Masker is a Nashville discrimination lawyer who fights for workers who have been discriminated against based on their race. If you have been called highly offensive racial slurs such as the “n-word,” “monkey,” or “boy” at work, you are likely the victim of unlawful race discrimination.
Race discrimination is prohibited by both Tennessee and federal law. Claims may include discrimination, retaliation, and racially hostile work environment. Workers who suffer race discrimination can seek monetary and equitable relief, including back pay, front pay, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and reinstatement.
Common examples of race discrimination include:
- Harassment: You are frequently called racial slurs such as the n-word in conversations as a “joke” by your boss and coworkers. You report the misconduct but nothing is done.
- Hiring: Not being hired for a job because the manger is not comfortable working with African Americans.
- Firing: Being laid off due to a “reorganization” but white employees with the same job and less seniority are retained by the company.
- Pay: You are paid less than white employees in the same position (with similar training and experience).
The examples above are not exhaustive, numerous other examples of race discrimination exist. Race discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA), and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Section 1981).
Which laws apply to your particular race discrimination case may depend on the size of your employer. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees while the THRA applies to employers with at least eight (8) employees. Section 1981 applies to all employers regardless of the number of employees.
In general, there are two types of race discrimination:
- Disparate treatment: you are treated differently as an individual based on your race.
- Disparate impact: you and other protected class members are treated differently as a class due to a facially neutral workplace policy or practice that has an unnecessary and negative effect on members of your race.
Importantly, associational race discrimination is also prohibited. So, for example, a white employee who is terminated because she is married to an African American man is protected by Title VII and the THRA. Also, the harasser and victim do not need to be of different races; race discrimination by an individual of the same race is still unlawful.
Unless the plaintiff has direct evidence of discrimination (rare), she must prove four elements: (1) she was a member of a protected class; (2) she suffered an adverse employment action; (3) she was qualified for her position; and (4) she was replaced by someone outside the protected class or was treated differently than similarly-situated, non-protected employees. DiCarlo v. Potter, 358 F.3d 408, 415 (6th Cir. 2004).
If these elements are established, then the burden shifts to the employer “to articulate some legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason” for the employment decision. O’Donnell v. City of Cleveland, 838 F.3d 718, 726 (6th Cir. 2016). If the employer does so, then the plaintiff must demonstrate the reason given was pretextual. Id. at 727.
The fourth element is often the most contested. A person is “similarly situated” when the individual outside of the protected class is similar to the plaintiff in “all of the relevant aspects.” Pierce v. Commonwealth Life Ins. Co., 40 F.3d 796, 802 (6th Cir. 1994). Generally, this means you and the other individual(s) have “dealt with the same supervisor, have been subject to the same standards and have engaged in the same conduct ….” Mitchell v. Toledo Hosp., 964 F.2d 577, 583 (6th Cir. 1992). However, these factors are not exhaustive and the relevancy of a particular factor can vary depending on the specific facts of your case.
Do you have a claim for race discrimination? Nashville employment attorney Curt Masker can help you fight back against racism in the workplace. Curt has significant experience handling race discrimination cases. Call Curt today for a free and confidential consultation.