I am African American and was not intivited to a company event where the most of the attendees are white. What do I do?

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Question:

I am employed full time as a sales representative for a large company that sells computers and related equipment.  Each year, the top performers are invited to attend a special convention as a reward for their efforts.  I was in the top twenty of the entire sales organization and the only African American to make it to that level.  When the company scheduled the sales conference, I was not invited, even though my white counterparts were.  Is this discrimination?/p>

Answer:

Racial discrimination often affects minority individuals who feel they have been unfairly discriminated against in favor of a Caucasian individual.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and various other federal and state laws prohibit intentional discrimination based on ancestry or ethnicity.  Some employers practice obvious forms of discrimination by paying lower salaries, denying promotions or special employee perk or rewards to blacks and Hispanics.  Federal and state laws forbid private employers, labor unions, and state and local government agencies from:

  • Denying an applicant a job on the basis of race or color
  • Penalizing workers with reduced privileges, reduced employment opportunities and reduced compensation on the basis of race or color
  • Denying promotions, transfers, or assignments on the basis of race or color
  • Firing a worker on the basis of race or color

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or related state agency will investigate charges of race discrimination.  They have the power to obtain information and company records via subpoena, field investigations, audit and interviewing witnesses with employees and outsiders.  They have been effective in fighting African American discrimination and collected over $100 million in 1997 in judgments for victims of racial discrimination.

As an employee, you should follow the company policy in reporting the complaint to your supervisor, or the human resources department.  There are potential legal consequences for an employee who decides not to report a complaint to the company and then tries later to bring an action against the company.  First, attempt to resolve the complaint within the company.  If that doesn’t get you the desired result, you can file a complaint with the EEOC.  Following that, it is always smart to seek advice from a trained attorney who practices civil rights law.

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