Racial Discrimination Is Real, Even When It Is Subtle

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While our society continues to make positive strides in recent years, racism and racial discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace. While it may be less obvious and less overt, it still occurs. We understand this is a continuing concern and see it in the cases we help our clients face.


The key is that racial discrimination is real in the workplace, even when it is subtle.


Subtle racism is most commonly displayed when the perpetrator’s actions are indirect. They can be expressed through innuendos and derived from underlying subconscious prejudices. Sometimes, perpetrators may not even realize they are being racially discriminatory, although this is no excuse for the behavior. Both obvious and subtle behaviors deserve rigorous scrutiny.


Racial discrimination does not have to be obvious to be offensive.


Subtle behavior can be as offensive as blatant. Examples in the workplace can include Ignoring input in meetings, derogatory remarks and believing preconceived stereotypes. Each is a form of subtle and potentially unintentional racism.


Let us share a real-world example. An African-American employee sits in on a company-wide brainstorming meeting. Each employee is expected to provide input to the conversation in order for creative ideas to flow. When this employee speaks, he is greeted with a few eye-rolls. The employee’s boss ignores his input. While no one made obviously racist remarks or made it was clear they were ignoring him and annoyed because he is black, racism may still have occurred.


While you may hear of blatant forms of racism in the news, people are much more likely to encounter subtle forms of racism. While a hiring manager legally cannot post “non-whites need not apply” on a job application, he or she may look down upon an applicant based on his or her name or skin color. Or the applicant may receive the job but feel separated from the rest of the employees based on non-verbal communication, including staring, silence or lack of idea recognition.


These subtle displays of racial discrimination reiterate the fact that racial discrimination is still extremely prevalent in our society. If you feel you are being racially discriminated against in the workplace, even if the actions are subtle, please do not hesitate to talk to our experienced team of attorneys. Simply because the instances of racial discrimination are subtle does not mean they are not real. No matter what shape or form, racism is still racism. Do not wait to take action.