Over the past decade here at Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm, our attorneys have been dedicated in assisting current and former employees of all races who have been victims of racial discrimination in the workplace. That is because laws prohibiting race discrimination in the workplace themselves do not discriminate—they apply to employees of any race. (Best Law Read: Top Race Discrimination Lawyer Response: What Is Reverse Discrimination?; Is It Race Discrimination If My Job Promotes Someone Because He’s Black? Best Lawyer Reply!; Top Wrongful Termination Lawyer Reply: Can White People Sue For Race Discrimination in Ohio?).
Indeed, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits an employer “to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Title VII itself does not list specific races it aims to protect, rather, the operative words triggering the protection of the statute are contained in that “because of” clause, meaning that if any employee’s race was a factor in the employer’s adverse employment action (for example, wrongful termination), then that employee may state a claim for race discrimination.
Can I bring a race discrimination claim as a White employee even though I am not a racial minority?
Best Employment Law Answer: Yes, Title VII’s protections apply to White employees who are traditionally “outside” the protected class under Title VII. Let’s look at a very recent example:
In Florence, et al. v. Seggos, et al., the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit examined whether a two-plaintiff lawsuit filed by two White employees for so-called “reverse” race discrimination should be allowed to continue in spite of a motion to dismiss by the defendants. Here’s some background: in December 2017, the two plaintiffs, Dennis Florence and Michael St. Jeanos, both White, were applying for an open Director of Law Enforcement position with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“Department”). This was the result of the current Director being set to retire from that position in March 2018. Now, because this position was classified under the New Your State Civil Service Law, it was required that all applicants for the position first pass a civil service test. In this case, there were a total of eight applicants who passed the required test, and out of those eight, all of whom were White, St. Jeanos earned the highest score on the test, while Florence had tied with a few other applicants for the second highest score. Despite these facts, when the current Director retired, the Department named Bernard Rivers as the “acting” Director in his place. Rivers, who is African-American, had failed the same civil service test. Thereafter, the Department successfully petitioned the Civil Service Commission to remove this test as a requirement for the Director position, thereby allowing the Department to hire Rivers to the permanent Director position. Florence and St. Jeanos then sued, claiming the Department’s individual officials engaged in racially discriminatory hiring practices.
After plaintiffs’ lawsuit was initially thrown out by the district court, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that they successfully stated a claim under Title VII for race discrimination. The Court repeated that Title VII protects any employee from discrimination “because of” that individual’s “race” and that the plaintiffs only needed to allege, at this stage, that “race was a ‘motivating factor’ with respect to the adverse employment decision.” Moreover, the Court rejected various arguments put forth by the defendants, including their position that the Civil Service’s subsequent decision to remove the test as a requirement for the Director position undercut the plaintiffs’ claims. The Court held that a factual question remained whether Rivers’ failing of the test was relevant to the ultimate question of whether he was less qualified for the position and/or whether his race was then a factor in his hiring over the plaintiffs or another White applicant.
Notably, the Court did, however, affirm the district court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiffs’ remaining claims under Section 1981 and Section 1983 because those claims were not plead with enough specificity against each of the named defendants in order to survive the motion to dismiss. Still, at least for now, Florence’s and St. Jeanos’ race discrimination claims are alive and will advance to the next stage of litigation once the case goes back to the district court.
Is the test to prove race discrimination the same for White employees?
Best Employment Law Answer: Pretty much, with one caveat. For a White employee, the initial, what we attorneys call “prima facie test” for race discrimination is modified somewhat, just as to the first element. (Best Law Read: What does prima facie mean?). The test includes four elements: (1) Background circumstances supporting the inference that the employer was the unusual employer who discriminated against non-minority employees; (2) The employee was discharged or otherwise suffered an adverse employment action; (3) The employee was qualified for the position; and (4) The employee was treated differently than similarly situated non-Caucasian employees or was replaced by someone of a different race. The latter three elements are virtually the same for any race discrimination case, however, the first element is modified because since a White employee is not considered a member of the traditional protected class, he/she must show instead of some evidence that the employer would or did discriminate against White employees.
How do I sue my employer for discrimination in the workplace?
Best Employment Lawyer Answer: Because there is no way to effectively fight all discrimination at one time, Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm has gathered a team of experienced lawyers that fight the war on discrimination one case at a time. If you have been wrongfully fired or terminated or are in a hostile work environment based on your race, national origin, gender, age, or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?) Call our lawyers in Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Toledo, Cincinnati and Raleigh to get help now. Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm and its experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.