RACE DISCRIMINATION & HARASSMENT
The racial wage gap in the United States is staggering due to race discrimination and harassment. The Economic Policy Institute (“EPI”) reported that the hourly pay gap between Black and white workers is the worst it’s been in forty years. Four decades ago, Black workers earned 22.2% less than their white counterparts (adjusting for education); today, that gap has widened to 30.1%.
This is especially troubling given that this wage gap was shrinking in the late 1990’s yet, since the Great Recession, has increased and become ever more prevalent – especially amongst Black women, who had nearly gained wage parity with their white counterparts just a decade before.
This troubling disparity is not attributable to differences in education; rather, the difference is most pronounced for Black college-educated men. “Black male college graduates (both those with just a college degree and those who have gone beyond college) newly entering the workforce started the 1980s with less than a 10 percent disadvantage relative to white college graduates but by 2014 similarly educated new entrants were at a roughly 18 percent deficit.”
Though the African American experience is not monolithic . . . the primary driver of the expansion and narrowing of these gaps has been changes in discrimination, unobservable skills, or some combination of the two. This term is likely capturing the ebb and flow of government enforcement in anti-discrimination and civil rights laws, or the growing importance of other unmeasured factors.
Wage gaps are growing primarily because of discrimination (or racial differences in skills or worker characteristics that are unobserved or unmeasured in the data) and growing earnings inequality in general.
In the post-2000 period, these forces have been even greater than the effects of the Great Recession, as the political and financial support necessary to fight labor market discrimination has continued to wane.
DIRECT ACTION IS REQUIRED TO END THE RACIAL WAGE GAP
One of the most important ways to end the racial wage gap is consistent, vigorous, and unwavering enforcement of the antidiscrimination laws. Lack of enforcement of the antidiscrimination laws has directly caused a rise in the racial wage gap. Familiarize yourself with the antidiscrimination laws and demand compliance with them:
The 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title VII is the federal prohibition against race discrimination. Title VII applies to employers with 15 of more employees and prohibits the following unlawful conduct:
(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or
(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (“FEHA”) provides increased protections and applies to companies with 5 or more employees (1 or more in the case of harassment) whether public, private, labor organization or employment agency. It is unlawful:
- to discriminate against job applicants and employees . . . or retaliate against them because they have asserted their rights under the law
- The FEHA prohibits harassment . . . against an employee, an applicant, an unpaid intern or volunteer, or a contractor.
Unlike federal law, coworkers who are not supervisors can be sued and held personally liable for unlawful workplace harassment in California.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against by an employer because of your race – whether in hiring, interviewing or career advancement opportunities being provided to you, or if you are suffering from racial harassment at work – do not remain silently!
Discrimination is on the rise because antidiscrimination laws are being underenforced. Gather your facts and speak with a lawyer at Vision Legal, Inc., who knows the law on race discrimination, racial harassment, and retaliation. You are protected against all forms of retaliation for exercising your legal rights.
You are not alone – Vision Legal, Inc., is here to look out for you!
Economic Policy Institute, Black-White Wage Gap, Sept. 2016