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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Customers’ Racial Preferences Cannot Be a Basis for Discrimination Against Employees

Businesses attempting to maximize their profits by matching employees of certain races to the racial demographics of their customers will be breaking both New Jersey and Federal Law. If a customer base is predominately white, the employer may not utilize such racial demographics to hire, train, promote, or retain white workers over non-white workers.

By way of example: a commercial business corporation may not assign black employees to work only in the stores that are in black neighborhoods but not predominately white neighborhoods.In assigning accounts to salespersons, a business may not withhold assigning accounts of white-owned businesses or white customers, to African American or other non-white salespersons.This is true even if the customer has blatantly told the business that they do not want a black salesperson. Businesses who attempt to use a certain race matching for hiring, promoting, or job assignments are unlikely to prevail in Court if they argue that the unique circumstances of their for-profit business require that such racial pairing is a bona fide occupational requirement of the employee.

Employment agencies also may not use race as a criteria in making job applicant referrals to prospective employers. An employment agency who argues, “My client told me ‘Don’t waste my time by sending me any blacks or Hispanics to interview,’” will be breaking the law if the agency follows that client’s instructions. A client’s instructions to a business may not be used as a tool for illegal discriminatory ends.

Such paring of the racial preferences of customers to match the race of employees when making employment decisions is strictly prohibited by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination “NJLAD” and numerous federal statutes.

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits racial discrimination in numerous aspects of the employment relationship. The Act applies to labor organizations and employment agencies in terms of not only their in-house hiring of the union’s or agency’s own employees but also prohibits race pairing in their referrals and assignments to third parties, even when requested by the third party, and prohibits labor organizations from basing membership or union classifications on race. The Act applies to numerous employers engaged in interstate commerce with more than 15 employees and makes it illegal for employers to discriminate in providing the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
  • The Nineteenth Century Civil Rights Acts, amended in 1993, ensures all persons equal rights under the law and outlines the damages available to plaintiffs in actions brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII. Under this Act, 42 U.S. Code § 1981b(2),  punitive damages may also be recovered in some cases of intentional race discrimination unless the employer is a government agency or a political subdivision:

(b)  Compensatory and punitive damages

(1)  Determination of punitive damages  

  • New Jersey Law Against Discrimination § 10:5-4. Applying the racial preferences of customers as a basis to hire,train, transfer, promote or delegate work assignments or assign referrals is strictly prohibited under the NJLAD, which states:

§ 10:5-4. Obtaining employment, accommodations and privileges without discrimination; civil right.

All persons shall have the opportunity to obtain employment, and to obtain all the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of any place of public accommodation, publicly assisted housing accommodation, and other real property without discrimination because of race......This opportunity is recognized as and declared to be a civil right.

What You Can Do

If you were harmed by your employer’s employment decisions and you believe your employer applied the racial preferences of its customers to transfer, promote or delegate, etc., work assignments, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in race discrimination. I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing private and public employees who are the victims of racial discrimination. 

If you were terminated, or suffered an adverse employment action because of your race, or are being subjected to unlawful workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.


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