Is there a difference between Race & Color Discrimination?
Discrimination based on one’s skin color or race is a very common form of workplace discrimination. Both types of discrimination are illegal and employees that are subjected to such unlawful comments or conduct are protected by various federal, state, and city laws. Under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), as well as New York state, Pennsylvania state, New York City, and Philadelphia laws, covered employers are not allowed to discriminate, harass, or retaliate against any employee or applicant on the basis of race or skin color.
Race and color are not necessarily synonymous for one another; however, race and color frequently overlap and are usually regarded as the same thing.
Generally, employment laws –like those cited above—distinguish the terms as different. For instance, Title VII explicitly states that discrimination on the basis of a person’s race also includes skin color. In addition, this includes a person’s texture of hair or any other physical characteristic linked to their race.
Generally, color discrimination in the workplace refers to situations when an employee or applicant is discriminated, harassed, or retaliated against based on the lightness, darkness, or another color characteristic of his or her skin. Moreover, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), which enforces Title VII, lists the term “color” as pigmentation, complexion, or skin shade or tone. This form of discrimination can happen to anyone, even if the harasser or discriminator is of the same race or ethnicity as the one being discriminated, harassed, or retaliated against in any aspect of employment.
Imagine the following two examples, “A” and “B,” highlighting the difference.
A manager decides not to promote an extremely qualified employee with seniority and instead promotes an inexperienced employee that recently started. In situation “A,” if the qualified employee is a Latino, and the inexperienced employee is Chinese-American, then it is considered discrimination on the basis of race because the employees are of different races. However, in situation “B,” if the qualified employee is a darker-skinned Latino and the inexperienced one is a lighter-skinned Latino, then this is an example is considered discrimination on the basis of is deemed as color discrimination because the employer favors the former over the latter, despite both being of the same race.
If you feel like you have been a victim of discrimination because of your race, color, gender, or another basis, call the experienced attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC. Our attorneys work diligently to protect the civil rights of our clients in both the workplace and in the classroom. Whether you are in New York City, Miami, or Philadelphia, our sexual harassment attorneys have settled cases with large corporations and major universities. Please give us a call at (800) 807-2209 for a free consultation.


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About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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