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Racial discrimination when you’re not part of that race

When you think about racial discrimination in the workplace, it’s natural to assume that people of a certain race are being discriminated against based on that race. For instance, a white employer refuses to hire any African American employees. This is a clear violation of those workers’ rights. 

What you may not have realized, though, is that you can be discriminated against even when you’re not part of the specific race that the discrimination is aimed at. One example is when an employer assumes you’re part of that race, even though you are not. It’s still illegal to discriminate against you based on that assumption. 

Other examples include legal prohibitions against discriminating based on the following factors: 

  • Your spouse is part of another ethnic group, even though you are not. 
  • You frequently associate with individuals of that ethnic group. 
  • You go to a place of worship that this minority group typically visits. 
  • You go to school with many people of this ethnic group. 
  • You engage in “practices or characteristics” that are often linked to this ethnic group or race.
  • You dress, speak or act like those who are within this ethnic group, despite your own ethnicity. 

For instance, maybe you are a white employee, but your spouse is African American and you go to a well-known African American church in the area. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you based on your marriage or your membership in the church, even if both you and the employer are white. 

If you have been discriminated against in any way, you have to know your legal options. It may be time to think about speaking to an experienced attorney so that you can fully understand your rights and decide what steps to take next.



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