How and when to report racism at work

Racism can impact person’s performance, promotions, and paycheck

Many companies are committed to confronting racism in the workplace, however, racial discrimination still happens.

25 percent of all complaints filed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the past 10 years have come from Black American employees alleging racial discrimination. Racism at work can impact a person’s performance, promotions, and paycheck.

Specialist in Employment Law, Bertha Burruezo, said when experiencing racism at work, gathering evidence is key.

First, identify a co-worker who does work similar to you, is racially different, and compare how they are treated at work. And remember, each state has their own protections against discrimination, Burrezo said.

Next keep a record of face-to-face conversations, detailing what was said, if anyone else heard, and if you told anyone about it. Take photos of anything physically posted, print out copies of written letters or emails, and if it’s a text message, take a screen shot. Burruezo said “If it’s not documented, then it didn’t happen.”

Burrezo said not to record conversations since it could be illegal, and don’t use company computers or phones to document it on. There is no expectation of privacy when using your employer’s software or hardware.

You can also report it to human services, however, beware there could be a risk, like getting your hours cut.

It is important to ask yourself, “What is it that you want to accomplish? Do you want to quietly move on with your life and just move on to another job?” If so, then perhaps going to HR isn’t the right decision, Burrezo said.

If you want to pursue the case further, contact a lawyer in your state versed in employee rights. One thing to keep in mind, these cases can take two to three years to resolve.