Study: Discrimination to Blame for Higher Work Injury Rates of Minorities

Minority workers face the highest rates of on-the-job injury, and researchers with the University of Southern California opine that’s in large part due to workplace discrimination. constructionworker

The study looked at injury rates among workers of different races. What they discovered was that Latino immigrant and African American men had far and away the greatest risk of injury. The risk was even higher when researchers accounted for education and other demographic characteristics. 

Although the study authors didn’t delve too deeply into the reasons why, the lead researcher opined it had largely to do with “disparities in economic opportunities for minorities.” In other words: Racial discrimination. Workers who are black or Latino immigrant are often turned down or not considered for higher-paying roles, and therefore are pigeon-holed into jobs that are more dangerous, substantially increasing their risk of workplace injury and disability. 

The study, published in the February edition of the journal Health Affairs, indicated that Latino immigrant males who are between 18- to 64-years-old are at the highest risk of workplace injury, with a risk of about 13.7 per 1,000 full-time workers. African American men had a risk of about 12 per 1,000 workers. For Latino workers born in the U.S., the risk was almost 12 in 1,000. For white men, the risk was 11.8. Asian American men had the lowest risk at about 10.

This data was derived from two sets of demographic information from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What’s more, higher risks of workplace injury were linked to increased odds of disability, but this was especially true for workers who were older, in the 50-to-64-years-old cohort. African American men in this age range had a 4.4 percent rate of suffering a disabling work injury, compared to 4.2 percent of immigrant Latinos, 4 percent of older Asian Americans and 3.5 percent U.S.-born Latinos. Older white men had the lowest rates of disabilities among these groups – about 2.5 percent.

Researchers postulated that older white men are far more likely than those in these other groups to be working in supervisory positions. They said discrimination in promotion and hiring, as well as workplace bias in assigning minority workers the most dangerous tasks, likely plays a role. Of course, this is blatantly illegal.

Both California and federal law prohibits discrimination at work on the basis of one’s race, color, ethnicity and/ or national origin. This law extends to all employment practices, which includes advertisements for work programs, applications and interviews, hiring, transfers, promotions and work conditions. It’s also illegal when it plays out with respect to the terms or conditions of employment. So for example, disparate rates of pay, titles, positions, roles, hours, vacations and workplace safety.

Courts have held there are two types of racial discrimination at work. The first is disparate treatment, which is when someone is treated differently due to their race or ethnicity. The other is disparate impact. This is sometimes less obvious, and involves an employment policy that leads to one class of workers benefiting over another or one being unfairly excluded on the basis of race.

Our workplace racial discrimination lawyers are committed to obtaining justice for our clients.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Minorities face greatest risk of injury, disability on the job, Feb. 9, 2017, Press Release, University of Southern California

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