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Seven Potential Signs of Racial Discrimination in Your Workplace

Racial discrimination is a pernicious and surprisingly common problem in workplaces throughout the United States. Even in companies that pride themselves on inclusivity and diversity, it is possible that you might become the victim of discriminatory action. That is why you should stay on the lookout for these seven potential signs of racial discrimination in your workplace:


  • People of color are absent among higher levels of the company

    • One potential sign of racial discrimination at a company is that people of color are present at its lowest levels, but not among its managers, executives or directors. That may indicate the company is not comfortable putting people of color in positions of authority, and may be interfering with efforts to promote non-white people to higher levels.

  • Your employer discourages discussing pay

    • Another potential sign of racial discrimination (or any type of discrimination) is that your employer does not want its employees to discuss their pay or other compensation. That can be a sign the company is aware of pay disparities among its employees and does not want them to become aware of it.

  • Other employees make inappropriate jokes without consequence

    • Racial discrimination can also manifest as inappropriate jokes or statements that rely on racist stereotypes or other forms of bigotry. If this sort of behavior is tolerated by the company, it can be a sign of a bigger problem with the company’s culture.

  • Different employees suffer different punishments for the same offense

    • Racial discrimination can be more subtle as well, manifesting as unequal punishment for the same offense. For example, if a white employee and a black employee both fail to adhere to the dress code, but only the black employee is formally disciplined while the white employee gets a warning, that may indicate discrimination.

  • Some employees do not get invited to meetings, seminars, or training sessions

    • Another more subtle sign of racial discrimination is when certain employees do not get invited to special events, such as meetings, seminars, or training sessions. By missing out on these events, people of color may miss out on networking or promotion opportunities, hindering their career prospects.

  • Some employees have more trouble scheduling days off

    • Employers may also choose to make things harder for certain employees by refusing to grant them time off, even when requested far in advance. As a result, employees may miss out on the ability to take vacations or call out sick, denying them the benefits they are otherwise entitled to.

  • Your employer retaliates when someone reports discrimination

    • Finally, be on the lookout for when an employer reacts poorly to a report of racial discrimination and attempts to retaliate against the reporter. If this happens to you or another employee, you should contact a lawyer with experience handling discrimination cases.

Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or

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