Reverse Discrimination Lawyers
All employees, regardless of race or gender, are entitled to a work environment in which they feel safe and are treated fairly. In addition to economic losses, workplace discrimination can be a significant detriment to an employee’s overall health and wellbeing. If you have been a victim of reverse discrimination at your place of work, call Kraemer, Manes & Associates. Our experienced employment discrimination attorneys will fight tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected.
Employment discrimination generally
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The terms and protections of Title VII are not limited to any particular race or sex, and as such, it protects both minority and majority classes.
Similarly, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act protects Pennsylvania workers from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age or national origin.
These laws protect against discrimination in all areas of employment, including hiring decisions, promotions, demotions, wages and benefits, and termination.
What is “reverse discrimination”?
The term “reverse discrimination,” sometimes called “white discrimination,” “male discrimination,” or “majority discrimination,” is used to refer to discrimination against members of a group that have not historically been subjected to such treatment on a persistent basis, such as men or Caucasians.
The number of reverse discrimination cases that have arisen over the past decade have increased exponentially, and plaintiffs that have been subjected to such unlawful treatment have received substantial monetary awards. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently concluded that to prohibit racial discrimination claims solely to minority classes would “constitute a derogation of the Commission’s Congressional mandate to eliminate all practices which operate to disadvantage the employment opportunities of any group protected by Title VII, including Caucasians.”
Examples of discrimination
Much like examples of more traditional discrimination, reverse discrimination can include unfair treatment in the workplace involving:
- Unfair hiring processes that rely on racial or gender stereotypes.
- Unfair selection of employees when downsizing.
- Precluding employees from promotion on the basis of race or gender.
- Requiring or only allowing employees of certain races or genders to work overtime.
- Differential pay on the basis of race or gender.
- Wrongful discharge in retaliation for reporting racial or gender discrimination.
- Racial harassment, such as racial slurs, racial jokes or other prejudicial conduct that creates a hostile work environment.
- Sexual harassment, such as sexual jokes, unwanted contact or commentary or other prejudicial conduct that creates a hostile work environment.
Likewise, employers may not retaliate against individuals who complained about race or gender discrimination or who refuse to participate in discriminatory employer practices.
Proving discrimination – the McDonnell Douglas framework
Since employers rarely state their discriminatory intent outright, the courts allow plaintiffs in discrimination cases to provide circumstantial evidence to prove that common sense and social context indicate that illegal discrimination has occurred. The test for proving such discrimination comes from the Supreme Court case of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, which states that under typical discrimination cases, the plaintiff first bears the burden of proving:
- He or she belongs to a minority class;
- He or she applied for, and was qualified for, a job for which the employer was seeking applicants;
- Despite his or her qualifications, he or she was rejected; and
- After this rejection, the position remained open and the employer continued to seek applicants from persons with the plaintiff’s qualifications.
Once the plaintiff has proven these four factors, the employer, in order to avoid liability, must be able to show some legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for rejecting the plaintiff. If the employer can point to such a reason, the burden then shifts back to the plaintiff, who must prove that the employer’s proffered reasoning is merely pretext for illegal discrimination. Although the race and/or gender of the individuals responsible for hiring and other employment decisions is relevant, it is insufficient to establish a prima facie case of discrimination without more.
Application of McDonnell Douglas to reverse discrimination cases
While the law differs by state, in Pennsylvania, the McDonnell Douglas framework mentioned above is equally applicable to Caucasian and male applicants as it is to minority and female applicants. Caucasian and male plaintiffs need not prove any additional factors that would not be necessary under the traditional framework. As the court held in the case of Iadimarco v. Runyon, “all that should be required to establish a prima facie case in the context of “reverse discrimination” is for the plaintiff to present sufficient evidence to allow a fact finder to conclude that the employer is treating some people less favorably than others based upon a trait that is protected under Title VII.”
Determining a discrimination case’s monetary value is a complex process. The value of any one discrimination claim will depend on the particular facts of each individual case. Generally speaking, however, a successful reverse discrimination plaintiff may be entitled to:
- Economic damages, such as lost wages;
- Compensatory damages, such as compensation for a particular loss or injury;
- Punitive damages, which are meant to act as a punishment on the employer for the illegal discrimination;
- Liquidated damages; and
- Attorney’s fees
Reverse discrimination and affirmative action
Various courts around the country have struggled with the distinction between unlawful reverse discrimination and lawful affirmative action programs in public entities. While there is no hard-and-fast rule governing these situations, it has generally been held that for an affirmative action plan to be lawful, it must meet the following criteria:
- The plan must not unnecessarily hinder the rights of Caucasian employees;
- The plan must be necessary and of limited duration;
- The plan must not constitute a complete bar to Caucasian applicants and employees;
- The plan must not create marked imbalances between races;
- The plan must be the least invasive means of correcting race discrimination and must be narrowly drawn to meet specific objectives; and
- Race cannot be the sole consideration for hiring or employment decisions
What to do if you have been the victim of reverse discrimination
If talking to your employer has not resolved the situation, the next step is to file a complaint with either the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If the problem persists even after you have filed a complaint, it may be time to seek out an experienced workplace discrimination attorney to guide you in negotiating with your employer.
Why hire an attorney?
There is a limited time in which you can bring a claim for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. You must file your claim with the EEOC within 180 days of the last act of discrimination However, if you file a claim with the PHRC within 180 days of the last act of discrimination, your deadline to file a claim with the EEOC is extended to 300 days of the last act of discrimination. KM&A can help you to successfully navigate this process.
If filing your claim with the EEOC and/or the PHRC does not provide satisfactory results, it may be in your best interest to consider starting the litigation process. This process requires a detailed analysis of the facts of your situation and a solid understanding of the law of reverse discrimination. The experienced attorneys at KM&A will guide you on the path that is right for you.
Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at 610-616-5686. KM&A can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.