At least five employees at the City of Long Beach have joined in a class action lawsuit against the city alleging a system of racial discrimination, which they say held them back in their jobs.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit alleges that the city has disproportionately kept Black employees in lower-paying and unclassified positions, rejected their requests for equal pay and promotions, and created an “anti-Black culture” among city employees.
Discrimination and Hostile Work Environment
The plaintiffs are seeking a “truth and reconciliation commission” to heal from the racial trauma, a revamped job analysis and valuation policy, back pay for past pay inequities, a trauma-informed complaint investigation process, and racial justice monitoring. Many of the plaintiffs described getting passed over for promotions and watching non-Black candidates get hired.
The lawsuit also cites a 2018 report about demographics at the Civic Center showing that 65% of Black employees in the city are paid less than $60,000 annually compared with 34% of the city’s white employees who are in that salary category. Also in 2018, 9% of Black people who applied for the city’s classified positions were hired while 33% of white applicants, 45% of Latino candidates, and 13% of Asian candidates were hired. Employees alleged rampant discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Understanding Racial Discrimination
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are prohibited from making any type of employment decision against workers based on race, religion, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristics. Such decisions include hiring, firing, promotions, training opportunities, etc. Repeated discrimination or harassment creates a hostile work environment for employees – an environment in which they might find it difficult to normally function and be productive.
Racial discrimination could occur directly when an employer, supervisor, or co-worker intentionally targets or berates the member of a racial group or indirectly when a company policy excludes minorities for a reason that is not related to the job. Federal laws also prohibit racial discrimination based on stereotypes, assumptions about the person’s abilities or traits.
If you have been the target of discrimination or harassment at the workplace, you may be able to receive compensation for the damages and emotional distress you have suffered. Contact an experienced California employment lawyer to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.