Arizona's Racial Discrimination Laws


Area of Law: 

It's unfortunate that racial discrimination laws have to exist, but thankfully they are in place at both the state and federal levels in order to help those who may have been unfairly treated in the workplace due to their race or national origin.  Racial discrimination can refer to a number of things; it can occur in the workplace among employees, between employees and management, or even among management alone.  It can also be an issue when it comes to hiring, firing, and giving promotions.  Racially motivated comments and prejudice based on stereotypes can lead to what is known as a "hostile work environment," which depending on the circumstances, may also be classified as discrimination.



If you feel that you have been the victim of discrimination, it is important that you understand what your rights are and how to proceed with filing an official complaint.  Many people try to sort out problems within the workplace without filing a law suit.  If you feel that you might make progress by contacting your company's HR department, many times things can be worked out, and the necessary disciplinary action can be taken without having to get the courts involved.  However, if you do not feel comfortable talking to HR (for example, if you feel the HR representative is the one discriminating against you), or you have tried to sort things out internally and have gotten nowhere, then it is time to speak to a lawyer and get some professional legal help.


Your lawyer can let you know how strong your case is and what sort of chances you have in court if you file a complaint.  Most complaints go through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and you can file at your local office to start moving your case moving forward.  Be aware, however, that the EEOC has a 180-day statute of limitations on racial discrimination complaints, so you will not be able to file a complaint about a discriminatory incident that happened several years ago. 



In Arizona, many cases of racial discrimination go unreported simply because of intimidation and fear.  Some people worry that if they report their company for participating in discriminatory practices, they will either lose their job or be threatened in some other way.  However, federal law strictly prohibits any company from retaliating against an employee in any way (including termination) if the employee is simply exercising his or her right to report a violation of a state or federal statute.  In other words, if you complain about your company's discriminatory policies and are fired because of it, there will be severe penalties against your company for this.


Your workplace should be a safe and comfortable environment to work in regardless of your skin color or national origin.  Laws have been set in place to ensure that you do not have to work in a hostile or unfair work environment, and if you feel that those laws have been broken, you should speak up right away.