Discrimination Based on Race in California

One of the most common forms of workplace discrimination in the United States is racial discrimination. Race discrimination is a major problem across the U.S., not just in workplaces. 

We’ve dedicated a sizeable portion of our careers to fighting inequality and discrimination in a court of law to help victims of harassment. Our experienced legal team stands ready to give you a helping hand in case you’ve experienced race discrimination in California. 

However, it’s useful to know exactly what race discrimination is and which types exist so you know what to look out for in the workplace, to confirm your suspicions, or find out which form of race discrimination you’ve experienced at your job. 

What is Race Discrimination and What Categories of Discrimination Fall Under ‘Race Discrimination’?

According to the EEOC (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), race discrimination is when employers treat applicants or employees differently (less favorably) than others because of their race, color, national origin, and ancestry. This also applies to situations where the victim experiences discrimination or harassment if they are married to a person of a certain race or skin color. 

The law sees no difference if the perpetrator is the same race or skin color as the victim because this also counts as race discrimination. 

Employers are prohibited from applying certain employment actions or changing the employment terms/contract due to race discrimination (also prohibited). These actions include docking pay, giving more/harder assignments to the victim, hiring, firing, refusing to promote, refusing to train (or providing worse training), refusing benefits, and other employment conditions. 

Racial harassment is also forbidden; simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated (but non-severe) incidents are not considered harassment, but derogatory remarks, racial slurs, and displaying racially-offensive symbols are illegal. 

In essence, if the harassment causes the work environment to become hostile or offensive to the victim, it is considered illegal and the perpetrators can be liable for damages. 

Lastly, employees who report race discrimination to HR, the CEO, or other employees may not be punished by the employer because this constitutes retaliation which is forbidden by law. 


Discriminating employees based on their race or personal characteristics related to race (skin color, hair texture, hairstyle, etc.) is considered race discrimination. This is the most common form of racial discrimination in the workplace, alongside skin color discrimination which is often associated with race discrimination. 


Skin color discrimination involves discriminating against employees or applicants due to the color of their skin. All employees must enjoy the same treatment from everyone, including employers, colleagues, and customers. 

National Origin

Another category of racial discrimination is discrimination based on someone’s national origin. Since people do not have a say in choosing where they’ll be born, how they’ll look like, or what the color of their skin will be, national origin discrimination is also prohibited. 

Employers cannot act in a discriminatory fashion towards people of a different nationality than themselves, but they also cannot do this even if they’re the same nationality as the victim. 


Finally, the fourth category of racial discrimination is ancestry. No matter who or what your ancestors were (including your closest family, cousins, brothers, sisters, etc.), the law forbids employers from discriminating or harassing you in the workplace. 


We can fight inequality and injustice together thanks to the extensive federal, state, and local laws that prohibit race discrimination in California. We are hopeful that the future will treat racial discrimination even harsher than today but until then, we will give it our all to help the victims of harassment and discrimination the best way we can - in the courts. 

Schedule a free consultation with the Freeburg & Granieri law firm and let’s talk about your case. Our extensive expertise in the field allows us to provide insights into what can or cannot be done, so it’s important to provide as much information as possible to achieve this. 


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