California prides itself as being a “melting pot” – a state that welcomes people of different races, ethnic origins and nationalities.  The state’s population over the last half-century has increased in large part to the influx of immigrants from across the Pacific Ocean and just south of the border. 

Nevertheless, racial discrimination still abounds. Employers and employees alike should know that racial discrimination is prohibited both under state law and federal law.  Hence, if an employee feels that if he is being treated unfairly because of his race, then he should talk to an employment attorney.

Not all acts of racial discrimination are committed equally.  Some are more blatant than others. The more blatant ones, of course, are easier to identify and prove. This type of discrimination is known as “disparate treatment.”   “Disparate treatment”  occurs when certain groups of people are treated differently because of certain parameters such as their race, gender, religion or age.  For example, if a company pays some employees with a lower rate of compensation than others simply because they are of Asian origin, then that is “disparate treatment.”

The second form of discrimination is called “disparate impact.”  This type of discrimination favors some ethnic groups over others.  The employer may, for instance, require height and weight requirements in its hiring process which may favor taller applicants of certain ethnic groups.  Or it may require English proficiency in hiring unskilled laborers.  In this case, Caucasian Americans may have an edge over Asians and Hispanics.  The examples cited  above are somewhat obvious in the sense that anyone can see the employer’s intent to favor one group over the others.  Nevertheless,  “disparate impact” is supposed to be more subtle and less obvious.  That is why an individual or groups of employees  affected by racial discrimination should be on the lookout for this subtle kind of discrimination

A third form of discrimination may be termed as “discrimination by association.”   A person, who does not belong to an ethnic group discriminated upon, may still be a discrimination victim simply because of his or her association with people belonging to a discriminated group.  For example, Jim, a Caucasian, works in a predominantly Caucasian company with a sprinkling of other groups.   He is the rising star in the fast-growing Silicon Valley company.  Then, he started dating Maria, a Filipino-American.  Suddenly, Jim finds his career in limbo.  The promotion which his boss promised to him has been withheld. Jim may be a victim of discrimination by association.

Racial discrimination, just like the ethnic composition of California, comes in different shades of subtleties. The employee should watch out for these subtle acts of discrimination.  If he feels he is a victim, them he should not hesitate to talk to an experienced employment attorney.  After all, the subtle acts of discrimination may have an impact on his job and career.

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