If you receive unfavorable treatment from an employer that is different from what your co-workers receive, you may be a victim of discrimination or harassment on the basis of your race or ethnicity. At Hennig, Ruiz & Singh, we know that these two terms can be confusing because people often use them interchangeably.

Primarily, ethnicity has to do with your ancestry. The traditions you observe, the religion you practice and the linguistic group you belong to are all factors that go to determine your ethnicity. Your ancestry also relates to your race, along with your physical characteristics and skin color. In either case, you have little or no ability to change these characteristics even if you wished to do so.

Race or ethnicity may be the basis for discriminatory actions by your employer that can include the following:

  • Denial of promotions or raises
  • Disciplinary action
  • Negative performance reviews
  • Termination

When your employer creates a work environment of abuse, hostility or intimidation, or knowingly allows such an environment to exist, it is a form of harassment. Such an environment can make it more difficult for you to perform your work.

You do not have to actually belong to a particular race or ethnic group in order to experience racial or ethnic harassment or discrimination. You may endure harassment or discrimination on the basis of other people’s perceptions of your race or ethnicity.

Your employer should have policies in place for filing a formal complaint reporting discrimination or harassment. Following these procedures should be your first step. You should also document the adverse treatment you have received. More information about ethnic and race discrimination is available on our website.