What is ‘Racial Profiling’ in the Workplace? | Bantle & Levy LLP



What is ‘Racial Profiling’ in the Workplace?

America is a melting pot of different cultures. While we do our best to embrace this diversity, many do not, creating the undercurrent of racial tension that plagues the country. Global protests, the removal of monuments, and much-needed policy changes may be making waves. But it’s crucial to focus on everyday experiences – including racial profiling in the workplace – to effect real change. That said, what is racial profiling?

By definition, racial profiling occurs when an individual is subjected to differential treatment or greater scrutiny because of their ethnic or racial background. In the workplace, it’s the act of a supervisor suspecting or targeting an employee due to their race, nationality, or color.

Racial profiling in the workplace continues to be a problem. According to a recent Gallup survey, one in four Black and Hispanic employees report having been discriminated against at work over a year.

Unfair discrimination makes for an unhappy, unproductive workplace. Fortunately, you have ways to stand up for yourself and bring the perpetrators to justice. But first, you must be able to recognize racial profiling in all its forms.

What is Racial Profiling: A Quick Guide to Racial Profiling in the Workplace

Racism in the workplace can be hard to detect. That’s why we have compiled a quick guide on workplace racial profiling, its types, and the laws that prohibit it.

Types of Racial Profiling in the Workplace

Generally speaking, there are two types of workplace racial profiling, disparate treatment and disparate impact. They can involve both intentional and unintentional racism.

1. Disparate Treatment

When an employer intentionally treats one employee less favorably than another employee for race-related reasons, you have a case of disparate treatment. For instance, a qualified candidate of one race is passed over for a promotion, and a less-qualified employee of a different race gets the job.

Employers may also be racist in terms of who they reprimand. Firing an Asian employee for being late once when their white co-worker is always running behind is a classic example of racial profiling in the workplace.

Racial harassment is an offshoot of racial profiling, with acts like using slurs, telling offensive jokes, or making off-hand comments based on stereotypes being commonplace. While simple teasing or isolated jokes may not be seen as a cause for legal action, any type of harassment that creates a hostile work environment is unlawful.

2. Disparate Impact

Not all racial profiling in the workplace is intentional. However, these acts can still hurt a community of people. This is disparate impact, also known as indirect racial profiling – a situation when a rule or policy set by an employer works against people from certain racial, ethnic, or national groups.

For example, a job advert states ‘native English speaker’ as a requirement, putting all multilingual candidates from different ethnic backgrounds at a disadvantage.

Signs of Racial Profiling in the Workplace

Employees subjected to racial discrimination will not always step forward, especially if the problem is subtle and they feel it cannot be proven. Hence, it helps to learn the signs of racial profiling in the workplace.

  • Your employer insists that you always speak English, even during breaks.
  • Your employer refuses to trust you with money because they think people from your racial group are ‘not reliable’.
  • Your employer does not promote you, assuming you wouldn’t ‘fit in’ with other colleagues.
  • Your employer subjects you to unfair/negative comments about your race.
  • Your employer rarely acknowledges your accomplishments but rebukes you for trivial mistakes.

Again, not all signs of workplace racial profiling are overt or readily apparent. It’s best to consult an employment discrimination attorney to know if you have a case in the first place. A lawyer can analyze your situation and recommend the best action for you.

Laws Protecting Against Racial Profiling in the Workplace

Several federal and state laws prohibit racial profiling in the workplace, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As per Title VII, employers with 15+ employees cannot discriminate against individuals because of their race, religion, sex, color, national origin, age, or genetic information. Moreover, employers are prohibited from:

  • Refusing to hire an employee due to their race
  • Firing/discriminating against an employee because of their race
  • Paying an employee less or offering them fewer benefits due to their race
  • Failing to provide promotions or opportunities to an employee due to their race
  • Segregating applicants/employees by race

New York state laws also protect workers against racial discrimination in the workplace. As you can see, the law is on your side. Don’t hesitate to consult a New York employee discrimination attorney at the first sign of trouble, so you can recover damages and come to a satisfactory resolution.

How to Deal with a Discrimination Claim?

There are several ways to deal with a discrimination claim in the workplace. The first line of defense would be to sort the matter internally by reporting the offending party to their superiors. The authorities will then take the necessary steps to remedy the problem and confirm it doesn’t happen again.

If this fails, you can consider legal action against your employer with an employment discrimination attorney. Your lawyer will collect direct/indirect evidence supporting your claims of racial profiling in the workplace and present them in a court of law.

How an Employee Discrimination Attorney Can Help?

An employee discrimination attorney can be your best defense against racial profiling at work. A competent and seasoned lawyer will go the distance for their clients and defend their rights every step of the way. They’ll also use their experience and expertise to:

  • Help you understand your legal options
  • Research instances of racial discrimination
  • Gather and present evidence supporting your case
  • Enable you to financially move on from an ugly experience with your employer

Employment law can be complex and difficult to navigate, especially for the uninitiated. Therefore, it pays to have a reputable lawyer in your corner who understands the legal structure and can use it to your benefit.

Contact Bantle & Levy’s Employment Discrimination Lawyers

Workplace racial profiling is not just unfortunate, it’s illegal. As a victim, you have every right to chase justice and seek compensation for any mental, emotional, and financial damages suffered at the hands of your employer.

Remember, you don’t need to be from a minority group to be racially discriminated against. If an employer treats you differently because you associate with people of another race, that’s still direct discrimination.

Don’t let racial profiling in the workplace stand in the way of your career. The employment discrimination attorneys at Bantle & Levy LLP will gladly represent you and analyze your case. We are diligent, attentive, and experienced in a wide range of discrimination cases. For more information, give us a call.

Bantle & Levy
Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.


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