Racial Harassment

San Diego Racial Harassment Lawyers

Have you been a victim of racial harassment in the workplace? If so you may have a claim for racial harassment under the law and be entitled to monetary damages.

Picture of Boys and GirlsThe California Fair Employment and Housing Act specifically prohibits harassment based on “race, religious creed, color, and national origin.”  Hostile work environment claims based on racial harassment are reviewed under the same standard as those based on sexual harassment. Thus, allegations of a racially hostile workplace must be assessed from the perspective of a reasonable person belonging to the same racial or ethnic group as the victim.

To constitute racial harassment, the offensive conduct must be sufficiently “severe” or “pervasive” so as to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment. The victim of the racial harassment must show a concerted pattern of harassment of a repeated, routine or generalized nature. One must establish that the conduct constituted an unreasonably abusive or offensive work-related environment or adversely affected the reasonable employee’s ability to do his or her job.

Although occasional, isolated incidents are usually not enough to create a hostile work environment, even a single act by a supervisor may be severe enough to alter the conditions of one’s employment. This is due to the authority that the supervisor has over a victim and the increased distress resulting from the harassment by the person in a position of authority.

To prevail in a workplace racial harassment claim, the victim must show the following:

  • He or she was a member of a protected class (race and ethnicity are protected classes).
  • He or she was subjected to unwelcome racial harassment.
  • The harassment was based on race.
  • The harassment unreasonably interfered with the victim’s work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Employer’s Duty to Prevent Harassment:

As with sexual harassment claims, an employer has a duty to prevent and remedy instances of racial harassment. When an employer fails to remedy problems of which it has actual or constructive knowledge, it may be held liable for harassment even if there is a company policy against harassment. In addition, employers are required to take immediate action to prevent such harassment from occurring.

There is no excuse for racism in the workplace!  California employers are “strictly liable” for any racial harassment committed by a supervisor. Once the harassment is proven, the employer is automatically liable. Additionally, under California law, a supervisor or coworker who harasses another employee may in certain cases be held personally liable for the harassment regardless of the employer’s liability.

Harassment by a Member of the Same Race or Aimed at Others:

At least one federal court held that racial slurs may constitute harassment even if made by one member to another member of the same race. Because the injury from harassment focuses on the workplace environment as a whole, a hostile environment may exist even if some of the hostility is directed at other workers. Thus, where racial slurs have been directed at a minority race of which plaintiff is a member, similar slurs directed at other minorities may contribute to the overall hostility of the working environment.

Some Examples of Racial Harassment in the Work Environment Include:

  • Name-calling or racist jokes in the workplace.
  • The presence of actual, illustrative or other depicted nooses, swastikas or other similarly hateful symbols in the workplace.
  • Racially offensive or insensitive comments, including jokes, cartoons, pictures or emails.

If you have been a victim of racial harassment you should contact the experienced employment attorneys at The Gould Firm today. We are here to answer any questions. We are here to help.