HR can help to curb same-minority racial discrimination at work

by on January 2, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

EEOC sees a dramatic rise in intra-race bias complaints

Day in and day out, an African American Applebee’s restaurant employee got called every racial epithet in the book by his managers and some of his fellow workers.

Top management ignored his complaints. And after enduring daily taunts for months, he quit his job and filed a racial discrimination lawsuit.

He won.

That may not seem unusual, but in this case, there’s a twist: All the managers and employees involved were African Americans.

Intra-racial lawsuits – for example, complaints that pit African Americans against African Americans – once nearly unheard of, are on the rise, according to EEOC statistics. In fact, in 1987 there were only about 300 such lawsuits filed. A few years later, that number was 1,200 – a 200% increase!

Usually, these racial discrimination at work complaints involve lighter-skinned African Americans harassing darker-skinned ones.

Harassment is harassment

Make no mistake, racial harassment is racial harassment – regardless of the harasser’s race. Although it may be a touchy subject, the rise in intra racial discrimination at work complaints suggests that HR should let all employees know that harassment by anyone is unacceptable. Other recent cases have involved Mexican Americans and other ethnic minorities.

In the Applebee’s case, the defendant was awarded $40,000 in a settlement, and the employer promised to educate all employees about all aspects of racial discrimination at work including intra-racial.

Cite: EEOC v. Applebee’s.

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