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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Racial Discrimination and Lack of Advancement in Managerial and Professional Jobs

Racial Discrimination is a continuing problem in high income earning managerial and professional positions as well as in blue-collar occupations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released a report in November of 2015 which found that there is an earning disparity across the board in management groups, professional and related employment groups (which are the highest major income earning occupations)  as to the major race and ethnicity of the employees whereby Black and Hispanic men earned considerably less than White men and Asian men in the same managerial and professional job categories. The usual median weekly earnings for men working full time in management, professional and related occupational groups were reported as follows: Asian men ( at $1,516) and White men (at $1,356) were well above the earnings of Black men (at $1,012) and Hispanic men ( at $1,012).  This racial income disparity by race and ethnicity holds for other types of jobs, non-professional and blue collar jobs for male employees as well. 

As to disparities for women however, females in the service industry and other lower paying positions had median earnings by race and ethnicity that were fairly close to one another regardless of race. 

This was not true for females in management and professional and other comparable higher income earning positions. In the latter group of managerial and professional female employees, there was a disparity among the racial and ethnic groups, similar to that disparity of male employees in management and professional and comparable jobs, whereby Black and Hispanic females earned less than White females in comparable positions. 

This study found that Blacks and Hispanics continue to have considerably lower earnings overall taking into account all job classifications,  than do Whites and Asians. For full-time and salary workers, the median weekly earnings were $594 for Hispanics, $639 for Blacks, $816 for whites, and $953 for Asians.

Other studies corroborate that racial segregation occurs resulting in a disparity of income which is based along racial categories and that it is not limited to high income earning professions but is evident in “living wage” jobs  as well. For example, in the restaurant industry  there are approximately two million “living wage” jobs. An investigation of discriminatory workplace environments in the service industry was undertaken by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United which released a study that showed that there is a divide in the service industry based on race. 

This study found that:

• Workers of color are largely under represented in the highest paid and coveted front-of-the-house positions in fine dining restaurants, although workers of color
  account for almost 45% of the restaurant industry's workforce nationwide as compared to 33% of the rest of the economy.

• Blacks and Hispanics are largely placed in lower paying positions.

• White workers in general, and a disproportionate amount of white males as compared to females in particular, hold the majority of both managerial positions and non-management living wage jobs, such as servers and bartenders in fine dining restaurants.

• What is tantamount to racial segregation itself occurs by the employment positions themselves (i.e., busboys, cleaners and dishwashers as compared to food servers and bartender jobs) whereby people of color have less access to the higher paid server and bartender jobs.

• Racial segregation occurs also according to the sector of the restaurant industry (i.e., people of color are concentrated in fast-food chain and other casual restaurants, as opposed to more expensive fine dining establishments. 

This study also found that, in comparison to African-American or ethnic candidates:

• White applicants were given longer job interviews.

• White applicants were treated in a friendlier manner.

• White applicants were twice as likely to be offered employment.

What the study did not address however, is that these higher paid employee positions, such as food servers and bartenders,  are the same ones where the employees have the most contact with the public, and that there is an inherent racism in any business preferring to present a "White" face to the public. 

The study corroborated discrimination in hiring practices, such as that resumes submitted by candidates with "black sounding" names, such as Trevon or Shanice, are less likely to get responses than those with "white sounding" names like Amy or Dustin. Service jobs frequently have little room for advancement once the person starts working and the racism may occur in the initial hiring process, or the refusal to hire,  and the job placement itself.

In white-collar managerial and professional jobs, the racism may be two-fold: first,  in the hiring process and initial placement itself, and subsequently for the employee who is a person of color, by the employer’s denial of opportunities for the employee’s advancement.

The racial discrimination subsequent to the initial hiring may by way of denying the employee once entrenched in his/her position, the opportunity to succeed and advance to a higher paying and status position. This can occur through the use of  “negatives”, i.e., by shutting the employee out of meetings; not copying the employee on business memos regarding changes in plans, directives, or business models; the withholding of  information; not offering training; the refusal to reimburse the person of color for employment-related travel expenses. It could also be for something as innocuous as not inviting the person of color to golf outings and luncheons where professional contacts with higher-ups in the company may be enhanced and new business contacts established.

If you feel that you have been denied opportunities for advancement, harassed, or terminated from your job and that your race may have been a factor, it is essential for you to contact an experienced, competent and compassionate employment discrimination attorney who will be aggressive about enforcing your rights.

Every situation is fact specific, and if you are a person who believes you may be the target of the employer’s illegal racial discrimination, or if you were terminated and believe race may have been a factor, or that you were retaliated against for complaining about racial discrimination, please contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law, today for a free consultation.

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