How to Handle Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

Written by ben wakeling
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How to Handle Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
Racial discrimination in the workplace can hurt people and the work environment. (crying image by Serg Golubev from

Unfortunately, racism has not yet been completely abolished, and the workplace is one area where it can rear its ugly head. Knowing how to deal professionally with racism and racial discrimination in the workplace is important in managing the situation quickly, effectively and with the least upset possible. Racial discrimination in the workplace is illegal under U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines and rulings, and any cases should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Consider carefully whether what you are perceiving as racial discrimination is actually the case. Sometimes people say things that can be misinterpreted as an act of racism, when actually the real meaning is something completely innocent. If you are unsure, ask the person who made the remark what they meant.

  2. 2

    Report the discrimination to your manager in cases where there is no ambiguity. Some companies have a process whereby this can be done anonymously; if this is not the case, your manager should treat your complaint with utmost confidence.

  3. 3

    Keep a record of instances where you have been the subject of racial discrimination, as this may become useful if your complaint escalates to the point where you are required to give evidence, such as in a legal case.

  4. 4

    Ask those who may have seen or heard the racism taking place to support you and endorse your claim of racial discrimination.

  5. 5

    If your employers are unwilling to resolve your complaint, taking too long to find a resolution or you are unhappy with their actions, contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and inform representatives of your case. They will investigate your situation, as well as provide advice.

Tips and warnings

  • You must not be wary or afraid to report instances of racial discrimination. This is a legal and moral offence and must be resolved.
  • Avoid assuming that anything negative that happens to you in the workplace is because of racism. For example, someone who was promoted above you may simply be better at his job and more qualified for the elevated role.

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