Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating
against their employees “because of” their race or color.
This means that an employer may not take your race or color into consideration
when making employment decisions, and taking an “adverse action”
because of your race may be a violation of federal
employment discrimination laws.
An “adverse action” includes negative employment actions such
as firing, not promoting and not hiring based on an individual’s
race (or other prohibited consideration.) A recent case evaluated whether
a demotion could be considered a constructive discharge entitling the
employee to a jury award.
Sanders v. Lee Cnty. Sch. Dist., a white woman, Sharon Sanders, who worked as a finance coordinator was
demoted after black members became a school board majority. Evidence showed
that after working for several years as a finance coordinator, and within
2 months after a new school board was appointed made up of a black majority,
Sanders was demoted to “food services assistant.” Although
Sanders never performed the job, a jury determined that sufficient evidence
existed that defendants created “such an intolerable working environment
that a reasonable person would have felt compelled to resign.”
Upholding the award, the appellate court noted, “We have previously
recognized a plaintiff may support a constructive discharge claim with
evidence that she was reassigned to a new position which ‘a reasonable
person in [her] position would find demeaning and intolerable,’
“Here, a reasonable jury could conclude the change in position from
finance coordinator to food services assistant was a demotion with a diminution
in title and significantly decreased responsibilities, and that a reasonable
person in Sanders’ position would find the assignment demeaning.”
Adverse actions generally include those actions that negatively impact
an employee – such as firing, failing to hire and actions that make
a work intolerable. The bottom line – your race should not be a
factor in any employment decision. If you believe your employer has improperly
made decisions about your employment based on used your race or color,
it is important to consult with an experienced employment discrimination
attorney at once to determine your next steps.
For more information and to answer your employment discrimination questions,
please contact the dedicatedGeorgia race discrimination lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for a confidential consultation.