Race Discrimination

What laws apply in employment race discrimination cases?

A number of different laws prohibit race discrimination in employment but two of the key statutes are Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. 1981. Talk with an experienced race discrimination employment lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act

The U.S. Department of Justice provides the following helpful summary of Title VII:

Title VII makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity) or religion. The Act also makes it unlawful to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Title VII prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also practices that have the effect of discriminating against individuals because of their race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.

42 U.S.C. 1981 (Section 1981)

Originally included as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Section 1981(a) states in relevant part:

All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other

On a broader level, both statutes outlaw employment discrimination based on race. But key differences exist between these two related laws that can make or break your case.  These differences played a vital role in a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit employment discrimination and retaliation case that Eric Bachman previously argued and won.

How do I prove race discrimination at work?

To establish a prima facie case of race discrimination based on intentional discrimination an employee must show that they:

  1. are a member of a protected class,
  2. suffered an adverse employment action,
  3. met their employer’s legitimate expectations at the time of the adverse employment action, and
  4. were treated differently from similarly situated employees outside their protected class. 

If these elements are met then the employer must articulate a non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If an employer does so, then the employee has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer’s articulated reason is a mere pretext/ excuse for discrimination.

It is important to consult with an experienced race discrimination employment lawyer to understand your legal options.

What remedies are available for race discrimination?

  • Back pay damages for wages lost due to the harassment
  • Emotional distress damages (also referred to as compensatory damages)
  • Punitive damages designed to punish the employer for especially reckless or malicious harassment
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees

Related articles and interviews by Bachman Law

Bachman Law routinely represents executives and senior managers in race discrimination cases. Likewise, Bachman law frequently writes, and is quoted about, race discrimination by various media outlets, including:

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page that answers many common questions in plain English.

If you have experienced workplace discrimination or whistleblower retaliation, call us at (202) 769-1681, or start your preliminary consultation online.

race discrimination lawyer; top race discrimination attorney; top Title VII lawyer


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