When you think of racial discrimination, you might think about someone being mocked or harassed because of the color of their skin. There is much more to it than that, though. Even with everyone being treated equally in the workplace, if there is a rule or procedure that negatively affects an employee of a different race, then that is discrimination.
A good example of this is if a work environment has a dress code with specific hairstyles that it allows. It’s clear that certain races, such as African Americans, may not be able to wear the same styles as Caucasian or Asian individuals in the workplace. Hair texture varies, which means that individuals have to work with what they have. Unfortunately, this kind of policy has negatively impacted African Americans and others in the past by requiring them to wear hairstyles that are difficult or impossible for them. Additionally, this shamed their own hairstyles, as if they were not as good as others.
There are times when things like a person’s hairstyle could pose a threat to their safety, and that’s a time when everyone should do their best to adapt and follow safety guidelines. However, rules like requiring straight hair or claiming that natural hairstyles aren’t professional are absolutely unprofessional and often illegal.
When you see racist situations on the job, it’s your responsibility to speak up. You may not feel confident about doing so, but changes can be made if people draw attention to those issues. If your human resources department, supervisor or others in the workplace don’t correct what’s wrong, then you may want to discuss your claim with your attorney.