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Signs of racism in the workplace

Racial discrimination can happen in any workplace. It can surface in blatant ways such as being terminated for no apparent reason other than the color of your skin, or in subtle ways such as not being invited to a gathering with work colleagues. Although such cruel and illegal behavior continues to occur, it must not be tolerated.

Workplace discrimination takes a big mental toll on victims. This occurred in a recent high-profile case of alleged racial discrimination within the San Francisco Police Department. A Muslim police officer went public about his experiences and filed a complaint in January relating “blatant racism and bigotry” at the police station.

The police officer, who is of Afghan descent, reported that he was intimidated with racial slurs, had the ISIS flag drawn on his locker, and was told to “leave your … grenades at home.” After complaining to the internal affairs department, the officer experienced more difficulty. He said that internal affairs investigators shared confidential information he told them with the accused harassers.

When racism exists at work

Here are some signs that racism exists in your workplace:

  • Stereotyping. In the Midwest, a job candidate with a master’s degree in Business Administration and several years of experience as an accountant sought work with a medical device company. The human resources representative steered him toward positions in the assembly division. The candidate was black.
  • Open hostility: An astute work manager will be able to recognize signs such as unfair criticism or being mocked for an accent and immediately intervene. At least, that’s what a good manager would do.
  • Overcritical managers: Many minorities feel pressure from managers that their work never is good enough.
  • Being consistently overlooked for a promotion: This happens with people of color in the workplace. Their qualifications may exceed those of their colleagues, but they continue to wait to climb the corporate ladder. In many cases, minorities may not be getting opportunities to be mentored.

The human resources (HR) department may not be the best place to report racial discrimination in the workplace. After all, HR’s main job is to represent the company. This is why you need to contact an experienced attorney who can help you.