In theory, no one should face racial discrimination on the job. It has been prohibited for decades. Companies are supposed to give individuals of all ethnic backgrounds a fair chance to land jobs, get promotions and much more. Workers should all be treated the same, regardless of their ethnic background.
And yet, it’s clear that racial discrimination does still take place. There are thousands of lawsuits centered around it each year, and there are many more instances that never even spark a lawsuit, but that could cause someone to feel discriminated against, lose their job or see other detrimental impacts on their career. So why does it happen?
The law doesn’t change how people feel
The problem is that all the law can do is outlaw discrimination against employees. It can’t actually change how people feel about those employees. Many people have entrenched views that are hard to shake. Even if they technically know what the law says, that doesn’t change how they feel about the law or these individuals – and so that can lead to instances of racial discrimination.
In a report from Stanford University, one psychologist put it like this: “Racism is a system of advantage based on race. It is a hierarchy. It is a pandemic. Racism is so deeply embedded within U.S. minds and U.S. society that it is virtually impossible to escape.”
This certainly doesn’t mean that it’s hopeless or that discrimination will always exist. Society continues to work toward that ideal where all workers would have the same experience. But it does show why simply changing the laws to prohibit discrimination hasn’t put an end to it. That is going to be a long process. Those who are discriminated against while at work need to make sure they know about all of their legal options.