Author: Renee C. Mattei Myers, Eckert Seamans

Claims of race discrimination are serious business. Complaints can lead to litigation and financial liability for an employer, in addition to a decrease in employee morale, loss of productivity and negative publicity in the community. When faced with a complaint of race discrimination, how an employer handles the complaint can affect not only its resolution, but also has the potential to prevent additional claims from occurring in the future.

Race discrimination involves treating an applicant or an employee unfavorably because he or she is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Discrimination can occur between parties of the same race or color. Race and color discrimination likewise covers treating someone unfavorably due to the individual's association (by marriage, for example) with an individual of a certain race or color.