Racial harassment remains persistent in various settings — including at work, in the landlord and tenant relationship, in public establishments, and by police who engage in racial profiling, police misconduct, and racial harassment.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits harassment based on “race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or veteran or military status.” [Gov.C. § 12940(j)(1); see Aguilar v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. (1999) 21 C4th 121, 130, 87 CR2d 132, 138-139—verbal harassment in the workplace (epithets, derogatory comments or slurs) violates both FEHA and Title VII]
To establish a racial harassment case at work, the individual being harassed needs to show that they were a member of a protected class, that they were subject to unwelcome racial harassment, the harassment was based on race, and the harassment unreasonably interfered with their work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
Similar to sexual harassment, the conduct must be severe or pervasive. So, one extreme instance of racial harassment can be enough to maintain a case. Less severe racial harassment can be enough to support a claim if the racial harassment occurs several times.
Racial slurs, innuendo, intolerably abusive words, or offensive conduct may constitute the premise for a racial harassment case. For example, an African American plaintiff had a case for racial harassment where he was subject to racial slurs, found banana peels in his trucks on several occasions, and was threatened by white co-workers after he complained about them wearing Confederate-themed clothing Jones v. UPS Ground Freight (11th Cir. 2012) 683 F3d 1283, 1299-1304.
In both instances, the employee will most likely have a case. Under California law, the employer is strictly liable for workplace harassment by a supervisor. Also, because of the supervisor’s position of authority, even single incidents of using racial epithets may qualify as a winning racial harassment case.
If you have experienced racial harassment, Coyle Browne Law is available for free consultations to investigate and determine whether we can offer to represent you. To begin this process, please contact us by calling or texting 800-421-2594 or emailing email@example.com.
While not required for an initial consultation, it is helpful to prepare in advance:
The specific facts and any records about the incident(s), including the name and contact information of the person or entity you believe harmed you (if known);
The names and contact information of any witnesses (if known); and
Copies of any documents or other evidence related to your situation.