Have you been the victim of racial discrimination or racial harassment at work? You deserve to be treated equally regardless of your race, skin color, or national origin. And if you were not, you might be entitled to pursue a claim for financial compensation and other legal relief from a prospective, current, or former employer.
But proving racial discrimination is not easy. So turn to a Tallahassee racial discrimination lawyer from Cruz Law Firm, P.A., for help pursuing your rights.
Over many years of legal service, our attorneys have represented clients with some of the most challenging employment law needs. We have taken over 100 cases to trial and have developed a familiarity with Tallahassee’s state and federal courts. You can rest assured that we have the knowledge and skill to fight for the best possible outcome in your case, just as we have for our many satisfied former clients.
Don’t wait another moment to demand the accountability you deserve for the discrimination you have suffered. Contact Cruz Law for an initial claim evaluation with a Tallahassee racial discrimination attorney from our firm about your legal options. We are eager to meet you, learn more about your situation, and help you stand up for what’s right.
What Is Racial Discrimination?
Racial discrimination involves treating a job candidate or a current employee unfairly due to their race or because they possess physical characteristics associated with a certain race, such as skin color, hair texture, or facial features. Racial discrimination in employment also includes treating a current or prospective employee unfairly because of marriage to or association with someone of a certain race. Racial discrimination can occur even if the perpetrator and victim are of the same race, such as both parties being black.
Racial discrimination can also involve harassing an employee because of their race or the race of their spouse or other associates. Harassment includes demeaning, derogatory, or offensive statements or actions, excluding a worker from meetings or company functions, or threatening a worker with employment retaliation or violence.
Examples of Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
Behavior that can constitute workplace racial discrimination includes:
- Making employment decisions — including hiring, firing, promotion, pay, training, or work assignments — based on candidates’ or employees’ race or color, or the race or color of someone the current or prospective employee is associated with
- Taking adverse employment actions in retaliation against a worker who asserts their legal rights against race discrimination, such as by filing an administrative complaint or a lawsuit
- Excluding workers from meetings or events due to their race
- Using racial slurs and insults
- Posting or circulating racially insensitive images or videos
- Making racially insensitive jokes or pranks
- Threats of physical violence against a specific worker due to their race or generally against persons of a certain race
Harassing conduct, such as racially insensitive comments or actions, does not need to be directed at a worker of the targeted race to count as discrimination. Such conduct may constitute harassment if the worker becomes aware of it and the conduct is severe or frequent enough to create a hostile work environment.
What Florida Law Protects Employees from Racial Discrimination?
In Florida, the state’s Civil Rights Act of 1992 (FCRA) prohibits employers from discriminating against prospective and current employees due to various personal characteristics of a candidate or worker, including race, color, and national origin.
What Federal Laws Protect Workers from Race Discrimination?
Several federal laws protect workers from racial discrimination. Most race discrimination claims are brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employers from discriminating against prospective or current workers based on race, color, or national origin. However, it applies only to employers with at least 15 employees.
You can also bring racial discrimination claims under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, found in the U.S. Code at 42 U.S.C. §1981. Adopted after the Civil War, Section 1981 states that all persons in the U.S. “shall have the same right […] to make and enforce contracts,” with the term “contracts” defined as including employment contracts and at-will employment relationships.
Workers who experience race discrimination may choose to file claims under Section 1981 because the statute allows for individual liability against supervisors, managers, or co-workers who engage in discrimination. It has other advantages over similar laws, such as not capping damages, having a longer statute of limitations, and applying to all employers regardless of size. However, a successful claim under Section 1981 requires a worker to prove that the adverse employment action they experience would not have occurred but for racial discrimination.
How to Prove You Were Subject to Racial Discrimination
Evidence that can help prove that you were subject to racial discrimination or harassment at work includes:
- Your employment agreements
- Your performance review records
- Employee handbooks or company policy documents
- Your pay records and pay records of co-workers who do the same type of work as you
- Eyewitness testimony
- Emails, text messages, social media posts, or internal messaging system posts
- Recordings or notes of in-person conversations/meetings or phone calls
- Photographs or surveillance footage
- Data regarding your employer’s hiring, firing, promotion, and work assignment decisions
Because employers rarely admit to engaging in racial discrimination against workers, you likely will need to rely on circumstantial evidence that proves discrimination by your employer through inference. This evidence might include your employer’s pattern or practice of hiring, promoting, or firing employees of certain races or colors. It might also include records of employees of certain races being paid more than other workers with equivalent duties, skills, education, and experience.
Your employer might offer a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action you experienced. However, with the right evidence, you could prove that this reason was merely a pretext for discrimination. Useful evidence might include:
- Racially tinged comments by decision-makers
- Suspicious timing for the decision
- A shifting rationale for the decision
Types of Damages in a Racial Discrimination Lawsuit
A racial discrimination lawsuit can provide you with financial recovery and legal relief from racial discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Damages you could be awarded include:
- Lost pay, including wages/salary, overtime, bonuses, tips, commissions, and fringe benefits
- Loss of future income caused by wrongful termination or denied work opportunities
- Compensation for emotional trauma or distress caused by discrimination or harassment
- Injunctive relief against your employer, such as reinstatement to a position you were wrongfully transferred or terminated from
- Punitive damages to hold your employer accountable for intentionally discriminating against you or permitting a work environment made hostile by harassment
The law imposes a cap on the compensatory and punitive damages you can recover in a Title VII claim based on the number of employees your employer has. These caps range from $50,000 for an employer with 15 to 100 employees, to $300,000 for employers with more than 500 employees.
How Long Do I Have to File a Racial Discrimination Claim?
A racial discrimination claim under Title VII must be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory act or 300 days if a state or local law prohibits the alleged discrimination. After investigating your claim, the EEOC may issue you a right-to-sue notice, which authorizes you to file a lawsuit in federal court within 90 days of receiving the notice.
You can also file a racial discrimination claim under Title VII or the FCRA with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). You must do so within 365 days of the alleged discriminatory act.
A racial discrimination lawsuit claiming a violation of Section 1981 must be filed within four years of the alleged discrimination.
How a Tallahassee Employment Lawyer Can Help in a Racial Discrimination Case
After you have suffered from race discrimination or harassment at work, let a Tallahassee employment lawyer from Cruz Law fight to obtain justice and legal relief for you by:
- Investigating your case to obtain evidence proving that you suffered from severe or pervasive harassment at work or were discriminated against in an employment decision.
- Documenting the losses that you have suffered due to racial discrimination or harassment, including lost income and future earning potential or emotional pain and distress.
- Discussing your legal option and potential claims you may have against your employer or other individuals responsible for the discrimination or harassment.
- Filing your discrimination claims with state and federal agencies and handling communications with agency staff or your employer’s representatives for you.
- Pursuing maximum compensation for you by taking your case to court and obtaining a fair and full settlement or fighting for your rights at trial.
Contact Our Tallahassee Racial Discrimination Law Firm Today
We strongly believe that no one should be subjected to racial discrimination in the workplace. That’s why we’re committed to fighting back against it on behalf of workers like you.
Our lawyers represent workers in employment discrimination matters in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and throughout the Florida Panhandle. Contact Cruz Law today for a confidential consultation with a race discrimination attorney in Tallahassee.