Very few employers openly maintain racially discriminatory policies on the books. Most have adapted to the demands of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 and strive towards a workplace free from racism. Unfortunately, however, this law did not singlehandedly solve racism on the job. Discrimination simply takes on more insidious forms and hides behind pretenses of professionalism.
According to the New York Daily News, one employee of Banana Republic recently encountered such casual racism at work when she was told that she could not wear her hair in braids. There are a few things you should do if you encounter this or any other type of racial discrimination in the workplace.
Assess the situation
If you begin to suspect that your employer is acting against you in a way that is racist, you should first step back and assess the situation. Consider whether this is treatment that colleagues of other races receive–or if it is exclusive to you and other minority co-workers. Determine, too, whether the discrimination is perpetrated by a single offender or if it is part of a more significant problem.
Document the violations
Documentation is key to building your case and protecting your rights. Nobody should face racial discrimination in the workplace, and if you have been a victim, your fight for justice will start with documented details. Make a note of the times and dates of racist interactions. If you have offensive emails or memos, be sure to retain copies of these materials for your records, too.
Consider the legality
Racism in the workplace is not only a matter of immorality and injustice–it is often a matter of illegality, too. The EEO mentioned above Act legally protects all workers from racial discrimination.
Employers who violate these standards could be in a legal quagmire for doing so. An employment attorney may be able to help you better understand the legal implications of your case.