Muslim workers are often the target of racial discrimination in the workplace. They experience discrimination in the hiring process as well. According to one study, only 13% of applicants with names that sounded Arab or Muslim received a call back about the job. And many workers who are of Arab descent or who are Muslim report that they have been bullied and harassed at their jobs.
If you’ve been a victim of discrimination at work because you’re Muslim or because you are Arab you should know that you have legal protections against discrimination by employers. Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act says that employers can’t discriminate against employees because of their race, where they were born, their religion, or their sex. Your immigration status also doesn’t matter, you are still protected as a worker in the United States.
Any victims of workplace discrimination can file a complaint against their employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC has jurisdiction in every state so the state you live in doesn’t matter. And the EEOC has an agreement to share information with the state authorities in 44 states. The states can decide if it wants to investigate your employer for violating state discrimination laws based on the EEOC’s shared findings.
What Are Examples of Workplace Discrimination?
Common types of discrimination used against Arab or Muslim workers by employers or coworkers include:
Not Getting Raises or Promotions
If you are qualified for a promotion, you must be considered for that promotion. Your employer can’t refuse to promote you to a job that you’re qualified for. And if your employer gives out raises that apply to everyone like cost of living raises you must also be given those raises. You must legally be allowed the same opportunity to work overtime at overtime rates as other employers. Your employer can’y pay you less then other workers doing the same job.
Dress Code Restrictions
Employers may weaponize dress codes so that they discriminate against some types of workers. But you cannot be required to dress in a way that violates the dictates of your religion. For example, your employer can’t forbid wearing hijab or a beard if the beard is required in your faith.
Racial Slurs or Bullying
Sadly, racial slurs and derogatory language about Muslim people can be common in the workplace. But any type of bullying harassment is considered discrimination no matter who it comes from. If you are experiencing bullying from a coworker, try to get evidence of the language used against you when you can. Take photos or videos, screenshot messages or chats, and keep logs of who is involved in using offensive language or promoting unfair stereotypes.
Using Schedules As A Punishment or Weapon
If you’re an hourly worker your employer can’t retaliate against you for filing a complaint by changing your work days or cutting your hours. Keep copies of your schedule and make sure that you keep copies of any communication with your employer about your schedule.
How To Prove Racial Discrimination At Work
When you file a complaint with the EEOC it will help your case if you have as much evidence as possible showing the discrimination you’ve experienced. Quietly gather up as much evidence as you can including written communications like emails or videos, photos, copies of documents, and anything else you can find. You can even include statements from witnesses to the discrimination with your claim.
But before filing a claim give your employer a chance to fix the situation. They may not be aware of what is going on. Talk to your employer. Show them the evidence. If they apologize and take immediate action to stop the discrimination a complaint with the EEOC may not be necessary.
However, if your employer blows you off, or tried to gaslight you into thinking you have’t been discriminated against, or dismissed your concern then you should go to the EEOC’s website and start a complaint. You can also call the EEOC and start a complaint over the phone.
Remedies for Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination is a federal offense. If you win, you could be eligible for damages for your racial discrimination case. You could be eligible for lump sums of money for pain and suffering as a result of bullying and harassment.
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