What are Race Discrimination Lawsuits?

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  • Written By: Christopher John
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 09 February 2020
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Race discrimination lawsuits are cases that people file in court against businesses or government agencies that treat them unfairly because of their race, skin color, or national origin. Laws prohibit racial discrimination in employment, applying for loans, housing, and in matters. Lawyers base race discrimination lawsuits on intentional discrimination and on hidden forms of discrimination such as policies that have an unfair affect on racial minorities. These lawsuits are sometimes difficult to prove because discrimination is not always intentional or obvious. Nevertheless, laws allow courts to award money damages to victims that prove their case.

Race and national origin have special meanings in race discrimination lawsuits. Race refers to a person’s ancestry or ethnic characteristics such as language, clothing, skin color, accent, or appearance. National origin refers to a person’s birthplace or his ancestor’s birthplace. 

Sometimes victims of racial discrimination cannot get jobs, loans, housing, medical treatment, or other types of services. Even when people have jobs, they may still suffer discrimination through denial of pay raises, training opportunities, or promotions. Race discrimination lawsuits enable people to protect themselves by enforcing their rights through the laws that prohibit unfair practices. These lawsuits may also prevent future occurrence of such behavior. 


Instances of racial discrimination may be intentional such as a company refusing to hire a person because of his race or skin color. Other times, discrimination may occur unintentionally through policies that seem neutral such as a requirement that applicants or employees pass a test to get a job, a pay raise, or a promotion. These policies, however, may have an unfair affect on racial minorities in greater proportion to other groups. In other words, under the law policies may not exclude a racial group in a substantial number compared with non-minorities. Although a policy may seem neutral, an individual could file race discrimination lawsuit if the policy has adverse affects on a racial group. 

Race discrimination lawsuits are complex and can be difficult to prove because most employers or other defendants are not going to admit that they are racist or that they refuse to hire a person because of race. In fact, it is often easy for an employer to give a reasonable explanation for choosing another person for a job or a promotion. Even so, it is possible to win race discrimination lawsuits by showing a pattern of discriminatory affects on a racial group. Lawyers may also prove discrimination through a history of offensive comments, jokes, or other types of unfair treatment. 

U.S. law prohibit racial discrimination and allow courts to award money damages to victims that prevail in race discrimination lawsuits. Damages include money for lost pay and emotional pain and suffering among other things. As part of the remedy, a court may order the victim to be hired or rehired or receive a promotion. A court may also award punitive damages if the discrimination is intentional. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant for committing racial discrimination. 


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Post 1

There is no question race discrimination occurs, is real and can sometimes only be eliminated by filing a lawsuit. What bothers me is when people play the lawsuit card for their own gain, and not to end discrimination.

A former co-worker was a minority and she was always hinting at filing a lawsuit based on race or sex discrimination to manipulate the bosses into doing what she wanted. She had a great position and her salary was based on her experience and expertise. She made a good living, fully equal with the white males in the office (she was probably the highest paid, non-management employee in the office, in fact), but if things weren't going like she wanted

them to, she would scream discrimination and threaten to file a suit. This didn't work quite as well when the top boss retired and a person of color filled the position. He had no time for her foolishness and saw it for the manipulation it was. Not surprisingly, it didn't take her long to find another job at another company. We all breathed a sigh of relief.

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