Can White employees be at risk of discrimination?

Often, when you hear about discrimination, it’s with the understanding that it involves people of color. There is also the idea that White people may not face discrimination in the workplace, but that’s not true by the letter of the law.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, all employees are protected against racial discrimination in the workplace, even if they don’t belong to a minority group. You could experience discrimination regardless of your race, whether you’re Asian, Black, White or another race.

The interesting thing that some people forget is that you can be discriminated against not only personally but also because of who you are related to or who you know. For example, if a White person is in a mixed family and someone at work discriminates against them as a result, then they could have a discrimination claim.

Watch out of subtle racial discrimination at work

Remember that you cannot be harassed because you:

  • Associate with people of another race
  • Belong to a race-based organization
  • Attend a school associated with a particular race
  • Go to church or a place of worship associated with a particular race

At the core, it doesn’t matter what you look like or what your racial background is. No one is legally allowed to discriminate against you on the job.

If I only work with customers who are of my race, is that discriminatory?

It could be. An employer isn’t allowed to ask you to only work with those of your own race, even if you’re White. For example, if you have customers of various races and you’re never assigned to a person of color, then that could be discriminatory.

Discrimination can be subtle, but it needs to stop in your workplace

If you believe that you’re being discriminated against, you may want to bring your concerns to the attention of your employer or the human resources department. If neither wants to address those concerns, then you should keep as much information about the problem as you can on hand and look into your legal options. You may have a case against your employer.

super lawyers
New York County Lawyers Association
New York City Bar
NELA Advocates for Employee Rights National Employment Lawyers Association
lead counsel lc verified