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10 types of statements that signify racial discrimination at work


Actions always speak louder than words, but sometimes words can be extremely damaging. This is especially true at work, when employers and bosses are managing a large group of workers. If an employer singles certain people out through racially discriminating statements or insults, it can damage the workers' sense of well-being, cause emotional harm and lead to other negative employment consequences.

Racially discriminatory statements at work against certain employees also classifies as workplace discrimination and harassment under the law, and employees who have been victimized by such statements may have the right to pursue financial compensation in court.

Examples of racial discrimination

Here are 10 examples of racially discriminating statements. If you've been subjected to statements like the following, you might be the victim of discrimination:

  • Any kind of racial jokes.
  • Directing obscene gestures or words against specific racial minorities.
  • Telling minorities that they only have a job because the law protects them from being fired.
  • The use of ethnic and racial slurs.
  • The use of antiquated terms to denote race.
  • Terms that point to assumptions regarding someone's ethnic background.
  • Phrases like "your people" or "you people" that clearly references someone's racial category.
  • Making statements like "the wrong side of the tracks."
  • Asking questions like "Would you rather be called African-American or black?"; or, "Would you rather be called Latino, Hispanic or brown?"
  • Asking questions like "Are you Latino, black, white or what?"

If you've endured a constant stream of racial comments

No one should have to endure a constant stream of racial comments at work. These kinds of comments are a form of workplace harassment because they highlight an individual's difference from others in a manner that is unprofessional and discriminatory. When employers seek to categorize employees by race by constantly pointing out racial and ethnic differences, it can be a sign of pervasive workplace discrimination.

Employees harmed by racial harassment and discrimination at work may want to investigate whether they can pursue an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint pertaining to the abuse. In some cases, employees may be able to receive financial compensation for the harm that was done to them in terms of their careers, their incomes and their emotional and psychological well-being.

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