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Employment Law Question: Is Same Race Discrimination Illegal?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2013 | Race Discrimination |

Race Discmination Lawyer in Cleveland, Ohio

The employment discrimination lawyers at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm were recently asked about the viability of race discrimination claims when the employee and the employer harasser are the same race.  Can black managers racially discriminate against black subordinates?  Can white managers discriminate against white employees?  The answer is no, absolutely no.

Both Ohio and federal law prohibit employment discrimination based on race or color. Ohio R.C. § 4112.02 makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice: “For any employer, because of the race [or] color … of any person, to discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment.” Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 similarly prohibits employment discrimination based on race or color.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission‘s (EEOC) website, race discrimination “involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features).” Color discrimination, while often related to race discrimination, “involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion.”

Lawyer for Discrimination against African Americans in Cleveland, Ohio

But what happens when a person of one race or color discriminates against another person of the same race or color? Noticeably absent from the Ohio and Title VII provisions is any reference to the race, skin color or characteristics of the person doing the harassing or the discriminating. As such, Ohio and federal law make clear that same race discrimination is also illegal. According to the EEOC’s website on race discrimination: “Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same race or color.”

For instance, in November of 2007, a district court in Texas found race discrimination occurred in a Title VII law suit alleging that a transportation shuttle service discriminated against African American drivers in favor of native African drivers. The evidence in that case revealed that the transportation shuttle service denied the African American drivers the more profitable routes, sent them to destinations where no passengers awaited pickup, and misappropriated their tips by giving them to the native African drivers. The court awarded approximately $37,000.00 in monetary damages against the transportation shuttle service and prohibited the service from engaging in any discriminatory practices in the future.

In another example, in July of 2006, a HIV service agency settled a Title VII case it agency arising out of the agency’s founder and former executive director’s (who is African American) racial harassment of four African American employees. The lawsuit alleged that the racial harassment included graphic language and racial slurs. According to the complaint, the racial harassment and slurs were used in conjunction with references to slavery and violence committed against black people in the 19th Century. The harassment was reported to management and the board of directors. Under the settlement, the employer agreed to pay approximately $200,000.00 to the victims of the racial harassment.

Likewise, in September 1998, an EEOC Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decided that an African American male hospital director who verbally abused all of his subordinate employees was not insulated from liability for racially harassing a female African American employee. The evidence in that case showed that the black hospital director’s harassment of the black employee was particularly severe. According to the evidence, the hospital director told the employee that he only hired her because she is black, regularly used profanity towards her, routinely referred to her by racial and gender slurs, and even singled her out for verbal abuse in front of her co-workers. On one occasion, the hospital director told the employee to “get your black ass out of here.” Finally, when the employee complained, the hospital director told her and other African American managers that they better not file EEOC complaints.

If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your race, whatever race that may be, then call the right attorney. Race discrimination includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, and denied wages. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims.


The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to race discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm or any individual attorney.

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