The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month sparked a global outcry over policing practices and a notable shift in the conversation over the Black Lives Matter movement. It also set off an avalanche of response from corporate America, which rushed to express solidarity with the black community, some promising billions of dollars collectively to advance the causes of racial equality and justice. Public reaction to this has been mixed, in part because it’s unprecedented; companies have been largely silent on this issue before now, despite the fact that it’s not a new one (as those of us in Los Angeles well know). But the other skepticism stems from the fact that many firms don’t appear to be as vigilant on equity and diversity within their own ranks.
Social justice advocates point out that racial disparities go far beyond policing and are calling on these companies to closely examine their hiring and promotion practices for possible racial bias.
As our Los Angeles racial discrimination lawyers can explain, lots of companies have committed to diversity in years past, some on their own and some because a court ordered them to do so. But in many corporations, there remains significant unchecked structural bias for people of color and also women.
Public Opinion on Racial Inequality Shifts
One study released earlier this month found that while about 50 percent of Americans considered racial discrimination a problem five years ago, that figure has climbed to 75 percent today. Given that the demonstrations in response to Floyd’s death have been larger and more divorce, some firms are facing mounting pressure from consumers, workers and investors to take a lead on this issue, do more than pay lip service to those issues and enact meaningful reform.
Some want public disclosure of data that might reveal median pay gaps according to gender and race. We already know that many large tech companies in California have a small percentage of African Americans in their workforce and an even smaller percentage represented in senior leadership, particularly compared to their population.
In a workplace diversity review by Reuters of 27 big companies that released statements disavowing racial discrimination after Floyd’s death, more than half revealed their percentage of black employees in senior management was less than half their percentage in the population (13 percent). That was only among companies that agreed to release this data. They aren’t required to do so, and the many did not.
While it’s noteworthy that several large corporations have made donations to organizations like the NAACP and the ACLU, the racial makeup of their top ranks don’t lack diversity because these organizations lacked funding. It’s likely going to take a more significant effort for real change to occur.
Filing a Los Angeles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit
It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against a person on the basis of race. Employees and prospective employees who are discriminated against or harassed on the basis of their race can file a lawsuit to hold their employer accountable.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make it illegal for employers in California to refuse to hire someone because of someone’s race. FEHA also outlaws racial harassment against employees, contractors and unpaid volunteers. These laws also extend to labor organizations and unions, apprenticeship programs and employment agencies.
Racial discrimination can also take the form of refusing to select a person for a training program, terminating an employee or treating one differently in terms of compensation, conditions and privileges of employment.
Typically employees seeking to file a California racial discrimination lawsuit need to exhaust all other administrative remedies first. You will also need to file a complaint first with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but your employment attorney can do that for you as well. He or she might advise you to ask for an immediate right to sue notice prior to the completion of the administrative process, but it will depend on the facts of your case.
If you have been harassed or discriminated against at work on the basis of your race, our Los Angeles racial discrimination lawyers can help answer your questions and help you navigate the process of seeking just compensation.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
U.S. companies vow to fight racism but face critics on diversity, June 10, 2020, By Ross Kerber, Reuters