Racial discrimination in the workplace is any unfavorable treatment of an employee or applicant based on their race, ethnic origin, or skin color. If you believe you've been a victim of racial discrimination or have witnessed racial discrimination occur, it is in your and everyone else's best interest to report it. But that in itself is a scary prospect, especially if a supervisor or someone in a higher position in the company than you committed the discriminatory act. To help take some of the fear out of filing a complaint, here are a few effective ways to report racial discrimination at work.
First and foremost, if you are currently in a discriminatory situation, make sure you are in a safe place where you can sit down and record the events in as much detail as possible. Remember to record the who, what, when, where, and why of what happened if you can.
Often, the most effective way to report racial discrimination is to speak directly to management. You can talk to your supervisor or speak with Human Resources. A supervisor can take the appropriate steps and speak to HR for you, but you'll want to go directly to Human Resources if the aggressor is a supervisor. Ideally, you'll do this as soon as possible so the right people can take quick and accurate action. The details you recorded will also aid the subsequent investigation process.
If, for some reason, you are too afraid or are uncomfortable speaking with management directly, you can write a letter using the details you recorded. You can write this letter yourself, and many online templates can assist you in putting together this letter. You can send this letter to your supervisor or human resources, but there are likely mechanisms in place for you to file a complaint anonymously. There's also no shame in placing the letter directly on the director's desk, but that does run the risk of unwanted eyes seeing you or the letter.
If management does nothing after you’ve followed these reporting methods, or you are uncomfortable working with anyone in a management position, a race discrimination lawyer can help. Speaking with a lawyer doesn't necessarily mean you have to take legal action. A lawyer can help you decide the next best steps if no other methods are working or can even help file a complaint for you. However, if management takes no action to investigate and remedy the situation, this is a systemic issue, and your lawyer may advise you to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Fortunately, they can help guide you through this complaint process, represent you, and give tips on how to best protect yourself.