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Can I Sue Because My Job Treats Me Worse Because Of My Race?

by | Dec 5, 2022 | Employment Discrimination, Employment Law, Federal Law Update, Race Discrimination, Wrongful Termination |

What is disparate racial discrimination under Title VII?

Treating employees differently because of the employees’ race/color is a form of unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is legally referred to as disparate treatment discrimination. To properly state a disparate treatment claim, an employee must present evidence that the employer acted in a more favorable fashion towards other employees, who are similarly situated in all relevant respects but of a different race. Examples to show disparate treatment need not be perfectly identical situations or treatment but must closely resemble one another in respect to relevant facts and circumstances. To prevail on a case of disparate treatment, the employee must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the employer, through its manager or supervisor, held a discriminatory intent or motive. (Best Law Read: What Is Disparate Treatment?; Racial Discrimination: Any Disparate Treatment May Give Rise To A Very Good Claim; Can Unequal Progressive Discipline Prove Discrimination?).

What employees are similarly situated for the sake of proving disparate race discrimination under Title VII?

The determining who is a similarly situated employee for purpose of proving a case of race discrimination under Title VII is evaluated on a case-by-case basis within the context of individual circumstances. Normally, to be a “similarly situated comparator in all material respects” will require the comparator to (1) have engaged in the same basic conduct as the employee; (2) be subjected to the same employment policy, guideline, or rule as the employee; (3) be supervised by the same boss, manager, supervisor, or other decision maker as the employee; (4) and have a like employment history as the employee. See Civil Rights Act of 1964 § 703, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2(a)(1). (Best Law Read: Who Is A Similarly Situated Employee For Disparate Treatment Discrimination Claims?).

Can white employees sue for disparate race discrimination?

Although commonly called reverse discrimination, it is important to understand that Title VII does not mention any particular race. To state a viable claim for disparate race discrimination, the employee needs to show that workers of a different race were treated more favorably. Thus, when a Black employee is asserting a claim of disparate racial discrimination, he can point to more favorable treatment given to white or Latino workers. Likewise, a Hispanic or Latino worker can use the more favorable treatment given to Asian and African American employees. In this same fashion, white employees can base disparate race discrimination claims on more favorable treatment given the African American coworkers. (Best Law Read: Top Race Discrimination Lawyer Response: What Is Reverse Discrimination?; National Origin Discrimination Claims Can Be Based On Reverse Discrimination; Reverse Age or Disability Employment Discrimination? No Such Thing).

Do you have any examples of cases that address similarly situated employees for disparate racial discrimination claims?

Of course, we do. In Morozin v. Philadelphia Housing Authority, No. 21-2960, 2022 WL 17261783 (3d Cir. Nov. 29, 2022), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently addressed the race discrimination and wrongful termination claim brought by John Morozin, a white patrol officer who was fired. The stated reason for his termination by his employer was that Morozin openly challenged the Chief of Police’s order about Philadelphia Housing Authority’s jurisdiction; received many citizen complaints; failed to discipline and/or correct his poorly performing subordinates; organized a sick-out; and failed to carry out a lawful order. In part because both the Chief of Police and Executive Vice President of Human Resources were African American, Morozin asserted a claim of disparate race discrimination.

To support his claim of disparate racial discrimination, Morozin pointed to three Black PHA employees as being similarly situated to him but were not fired. First, he asserted that Lieutenant Geraldine Coleman was similarly situated. Based on poor performance, PHA demoted Coleman, who had been primarily accountable for administrative tasks and infrequently led patrols during staffing shortages. The second proposed similarly situated worker was Lieutenant Shawn Artis, whom PHA transferred to a different position in the radio room because he was ineffective in the field. Lastly, Morozin identified Sergeant Abdul Evans, whose insubordination and poor performance lead PHA to discipline and then demoted him.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the district court properly dismissed the case because none of the three proposed comparators – Coleman, Artis, and Evans – were similarly situated, which resulted in Morozin not being able to prove that he was treated differently than any similarly situated employees. Stated more simply, in order to show differential treatment, the first step was to identify similarly situated employees. Without being able to do that, the claim failed as a matter of law. The Third Circuit held:

We agree with the District Court’s thorough explanation for why each of Morozin’s proposed comparators was not similarly situated. Morozin was a lieutenant who led patrol officers. He was terminated in part because of his insubordination and refusal to correct the behavior of his subordinates, which Bard worried was “poisoning young, impressionable officers.” App. 367. In contrast, Coleman’s role was mainly administrative and involved less supervision and leadership of inferior officers, and her misconduct amounted to poor performance, not insubordination. Artis, like Coleman, was disciplined only for being ineffective in his role as lieutenant, not for insubordination that risked disorder among lower-ranked officers. And Evans was only a sergeant, so he held less of a leadership role. Because Morozin failed to identify similarly situated employees outside his protected class who were treated more favorably, he failed to make a prima facie case for discrimination.

Id. at *2.

The takeaway from Morozin is that if you intend to pursue a disparate treatment claim, it is critical to be able to identify similarly situated employees. However, your attorney should be able to help you identify such employees during discovery. (Best Law Read: You Don’t Need All Evidence To Start A Discrimination Case).

How do I sue the company where I work for racially discriminating against me?

Best Race Discrimination Attorney Answer: Suing for disparate treatment is only one of many ways to assert a claim of race discrimination against your employer. (Best Law Read: Employer Liable For Boss’s 6-Year-Old Kid Calling Worker N-Word; Can I Be Fired For Reporting Racist Customers?; What Evidence Do I Need To Prove Hostile Work Environment And Constructive Discharge?). To determine what your best path is for pursuing race discrimination claims against your employer, it is critical that you consult a knowledgeable law firm that focuses on employment law, and particularly employees’ rights. So, if you think that your boss or managers is discriminating against you or harassing you because you are Black or any other race, you should pick up the phone and call the right attorney. Race discrimination includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, and denied wages. When you call to schedule a free and confidential consultation, you will meet with a race discrimination lawyer from Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?; Why Having Skilled Employment Attorneys Is Critical). Our Ohio, Michigan, and North Carolina race discrimination attorneys are here to fight for your rights.

Disclaimer:

The race discrimination and wrongful termination information on this racial discrimination blogpost and on this employees’ rights website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to provide legal advice. If you are still searching Google by typing in: “I was fired today by my racist boss”, “White employees are treated better by the company that I work for than Black employees”, “my supervisor uses racial epitaphs to harass African American workers” or “How do I sue for wrongful termination based on race”, your best option is to contact a knowledge employment law 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 The Spitz Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.