Race/Color Discrimination In Employment

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab


What is race/color employment discrimination?

The right of employees to be free from race or color discrimination is protected under the law, including the following enforced by the EEOC:

The law against religious discrimination includes all aspects of employment. This includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

  • It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on race or color or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII, ADEA, ADA, or the Equal Pay Act.

Title VII- Race/Color

What is race or color discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)?

  • Race discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Color discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion.
  • Race/color discrimination also can involve treating someone unfavorably because the person is married to (or associated with) a person of a certain race or color.
  • Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same race or color.
  • An employment policy or practice that applies to everyone, regardless of race or color, can be illegal if it has a negative impact on the employment of people of a particular race or color and is not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business.

    • For example, a "no-beard" employment policy that applies to all workers without regard to race may still be unlawful if it is not job-related and has a negative impact on the employment of African-American men (who have a predisposition to a skin condition that causes severe shaving bumps).

State Law

Louisiana State Law and Race/Color Employment Discrimination

Under Louisiana Law, LA Rev Stat 23:332 prohibits intentional employment discrimination. 

Retaliation claims for other types of discrimination complaints are not covered under the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law. Under La. Rev. Stat. § 23:967 General Whistleblower Protection Law an employee may not be discharged (or discriminated against) in retaliation for performing, in good faith, the following activities:

  • Disclosing (or threatening to disclose) a workplace act or practice that violates state law;
  • Providing information or testimony in a public investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any violation of the law;
  • Refusing to participate in (or objecting to) an illegal employment act;
  • To be protected under this statute, the employee must first inform the employer of the violation. An employee is not protected if he goes directly to a governmental agency without first advising the employer. Also, an employee must be certain that the illegal conduct actually happened; a reasonable, good faith belief will not protect an employee if no violation actually occurred. 

The general rule is that most employees may be fired at any time-for any reason or for no reason at all-under what is known as the at-will employment doctrine. However, there are exceptions to the general rule; the Louisiana whistleblower protection statute. Employees who engage in protected activities (usually filing a complaint or testifying) under laws in the following subject areas are protected from retaliation: health care employees, insurer employees, labor investigations & proceedings, and workers' compensation.

In addition to the above state protections, federal law provides workers with additional protections. Furthermore, a private contract or collective bargaining agreement may also protect employees from certain forms of retaliation.

How to File a Charge

To File a Charge

Laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), require you to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) before you can file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer. An individual alleging a violation of Title VII, ADEA, and ADA must file a charge with the EEOC before you can file a discrimination claim in federal court. 

  1. To file an EEOC Charge:
    • Within 180 days of the alleged unlawful compensation practice
  2. To file with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights (LCHR)
    • Within 180 days of the alleged unlawful compensation practice
  3. To file in a state court under Louisiana state law:
    • In Louisiana, you may file a claim under state law without having first gone to either the LCHR or the EEOC.
    • Generally, to preserve your claim under state law based on your state discrimination claims, you must file within 1-year or 360 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. 
    • If you file your discrimination claim with the EEOC or LCHR within 300 days of the discriminatory treatment, then you have an additional 6-month extension from the 1-year period to file your claim in Louisiana state court (meaning you have 18 total months).
    • A case filed in state court using federal law may be “removed” to federal court by the employer because it involves a federal statute such as Title VII or the ADEA, or because the employer is based in another state.
  4. To file a discrimination in federal court
    • To preserve your claim under federal law, you must cross-file with the EEOC or LCHR within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against.
    • A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court without first going to the EEOC or LCHR, as discussed above, and having the EEOC or LCHR dismiss your claim.
    • This process is called “exhaustion” of your administrative remedy. The EEOC or LCHR must first issue the document known as “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” or “Notice of Right to Sue” (Form 161) before you can file a case based upon your federal claim.
    • A lawsuit based on your federal discrimination claim must be filed in federal or state court within 90 days of the date you receive the notice. (Be sure to mark down that date when you receive the notice.)

Persons who file a charge, oppose unlawful employment discrimination, participate in employment discrimination proceedings, or otherwise assert their rights under the laws enforced by the Commission are protected against retaliation.

Last Review and Update: Sep 20, 2022
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