Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin Discrimination

Our Boston race discrimination lawyers represent employees facing race, ethnicity, and national origin discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination generally occurs when an employee (or job applicant) faces an adverse action in the terms and conditions of employment because of his or her membership in a protected class, including race, ethnicity, or national origin. Adverse employment actions can take many forms, including failure to hire or promote, termination or layoff, demotion, decreased salary or other benefits, and unfair discipline.

A person who is harassed at work because of his or her membership in a protected class may also suffer discrimination. Harassment is unlawful when it becomes a central part of a person’s experience at work, or, in other words, when the harassing conduct is so severe or pervasive that any reasonable person would feel offended by it. Harassing conduct can include jokes, racial slurs, or name calling. Harassment is not always verbal. Harassers may physically assault someone or physically threaten that person. Any of this conduct constitutes discrimination when it is motivated by a person’s membership in a protected class, including race, ethnicity, or nation origin.

An employer can still be held responsible for harassment even if the harasser is not in charge of a company or does not hold a position with particularly high authority. An employer is liable for harassment perpetrated by any supervisor, and an employer can only avoid fault by proving that the employer promptly tried to prevent or correct harassing behavior, and that the employee unreasonably failed to use resources available to prevent discrimination at the company. An employer can be held responsible for a co-worker’s harassment of an employee if an employer knew or should have known that a co-worker was harassing an employee and the employer failed to take action.

Although race discrimination cases sometimes include direct evidence of discrimination, such as an email in which an employer uses racial stereotypes to describe an employee, many cases rest on circumstantial evidence. An employee, for example, might notice that employees of a different race are more easily promoted, even with equal or worse performance records. Or an employee might have evidence that all employees of a certain ethnicity received similar pay cuts. Any evidence that might suggest racial, ethnic, or national origin discrimination is at work can help support a case even if an employee does not have direct evidence of discrimination.

Our Boston race discrimination lawyers have extensive experience in evaluating cases and advocating on behalf of clients who have suffered from wrongful discrimination. We can help you evaluate whether to negotiate with your employer, file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and ultimately file a lawsuit in state or federal court. Where a lawsuit is appropriate, we have fought for our clients and reached favorable settlements and, when necessary, successfully taken cases to trial. For example, in 2015, we won a $10.9 million jury verdict on behalf of a longtime public servant against the City of Boston after proving that the City had engaged in systemic discrimination against its black employees in the department at issue.

If you feel that you have suffered from unlawful discrimination because of your race, ethnicity, or national origin, please call one of our race discrimination lawyers at 617-742-6020 or complete the online contact form.

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