How California employees can respond to racial discrimination

Learning how to respond to workplace racial discrimination is key to diffusing the situation in a healthy and effective way.

While there are various types of discrimination that can occur in the workplace, racial discrimination is certainly one of the more prevalent. California employees who are members of racial minority groups might experience discrimination first hand and be unsure of how to respond in a way that is healthy and rational. A few tips and the right information can go a long way in diffusing a situation rather than triggering an unintentional escalation.

Gather evidence before going to HR or management

Because workplace discrimination is such a hot-button legal issue, managers and human resources professionals often prefer to have proof of allegations before taking serious action. Victims of racial discrimination in the workplace should be sure they provide evidence or at least write down what happened. Specifically, they should be sure to make note of the time, date and name of everyone involved in the incident. It is also a good idea to hang on to any physical evidence.

Demonstrate support

Employees do not have to be minorities to respond to workplace discrimination or create a more comfortable work environment. Showing support for those who report racial discrimination can give harassed employees the encouragement they need to speak out. Should an employee feel her or his experiences are not taken seriously or are not believed, discrimination may continue, and the employee can suffer emotionally as a result.

File a formal complaint

Sometimes employees have no choice but to file a formal complaint to ensure instances of racial discrimination are formally addressed rather than swept under the rug or ignored. Employers should always provide official channels for workers to report discrimination or harassment of any kind. For work environments that do not give employees the option of filing a complaint, turning to a legal professional is often their next best option.

Try to remain as calm as possible

While racial discrimination can be quite triggering, victims should try their best to remain calm both while discrimination is taking place and while they report on instances of discrimination. By keeping a level head, the person is able to communicate clearly and rationally about what happened, which is better than being ruled by emotions, which can make a person appear hysterical and potentially lead to poor decisions.

Let coworkers know

Some people are genuinely not aware that their actions might be considered racist. Employees should make such offenses clear and let the other person or people know their actions or words are not to be condoned.

While the above tips can help address racial discrimination in California, further action might be required. Speaking with a lawyer could help employees understand the full scope of their legal options.