5 Common Signs of Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

5 Common Signs of Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

Racial discrimination in the workplace directly violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and is unquestionably illegal. While it is completely within your rights to file a claim with the EEOC and take legal action, this doesn't stop aggressors from discriminating against people of color.

However, racial discrimination in the workplace isn't as apparent as slinging racial epithets anymore. While that still happens, most racial discrimination has become subtle and can leave one questioning what they've just experienced. To help you identify it, here are five common signs of racial discrimination in the Workplace.

Stereotypical Jokes or Comments

Two of the most common signs of racial discrimination in the workplace are stereotypical jokes and comments. Unfortunately, these often go unnoticed or unreported because aggressors will often pass them off as just jokes or misunderstandings. However, make no mistake—if a comment or action makes you uncomfortable, you need to speak out against it and tell them how it made you feel. Occasionally, it could just be ignorance on their part, but if it doesn't stop, then you can file a complaint with HR and move on to legal action, if necessary.


Favoritism can be difficult to spot, as it can often make one question whether they're being sensitive or seeing something that isn't there. The best way to go about making sure this isn't a racial discrimination issue is to ask your supervisor what you can do to receive the same rewards and privileges as your peers. If you continually don't receive the same treatment, then racial favoritism may be at play.

Little Workforce Diversity

While companies are not required to hire a certain amount of protected classes, it is near impossible to find a place that doesn't have at least one person of color in their workforce, as many POC exist in America. If you come across a corporation or business that isn't relatively small or family-owned, and they don't have at least one person of color, that is a red flag and may indicate racial discrimination in the hiring process.

Hostile Behavior

While hostile behavior may seem overt, it can be hard to tell if it is racially motivated if the aggressor isn't specifically making inappropriate racial comments. The best way to tell if this is a racial issue is to observe the aggressor's behavior around white and other POC employees. If you feel safe doing so, schedule a sit-down with you, the alleged aggressor, and HR to see if the hostility may be due to a previous disagreement or personality issue. If the perceived issue is addressed and resolved, but the behavior does not dissipate, this is indicative of a larger issue.

Lack of Employee Movement

Lack of employee movement is one of the easier signs to pinpoint as it can quickly become apparent whether or not it is a racial issue. If you notice others doing the same or equal work as you, moving to higher positions while you stay in the same place, this can signify racial discrimination. Read your employee handbook and contract carefully for stipulations and qualifications for promotion before you take up the issue with HR.

Hopefully, knowing these five common signs of racial discrimination in the Workplace helps you become better at identifying illegal and discriminatory behavior. If you believe that you've been a victim of racial discrimination, contact race discrimination attorney, Tamara N. Holder, to get the legal representation you deserve.

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