Labor Law and Racial Discrimination in Idaho


Area of Law: 

Idaho, like many states, has provisions both at the state and federal levels for dealing with cases of racial discrimination in the workplace.  This does not mean that racial discrimination does not occur, however.  Employers and companies may engage in discriminatory practices or have discriminatory policies that are either deliberate or unintentional, but even if an employer or company does not mean to discriminate, doing so is still illegal regardless of intent.  If you feel you have been involved in an incident of racial discrimination, there are several approaches you can take to try to resolve the situation and get the compensation you deserve. 


Many cases of racial discrimination go unreported for various reasons.  Sometimes, people think they may be overreacting, or they don't want to make a big deal over what is seemingly an isolated incident.  If it then turns out that the incident is not isolated, or it later seems like more of a big deal than it initially did, then the employee may feel hesitant to report the issue out of fear of retaliation.  Fear, however, should not be a barrier for filing a discrimination complaint as both the Idaho Commission on Human Rights (ICHR) and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibit retaliation against employees for exercising their civil right to stand up to racial discrimination.  If an employee files a complaint and gets fired or disciplined because of it, those actions in and of themselves are very serious offenses.


Filing a racial discrimination complaint requires that you understand exactly what discrimination is.  When dealing with matters pertaining to hiring, firing, promotions, and wage policies, favoring a particular race or skin color over others is obviously against the law; however, discrimination can be more subtle than that.  Stereotyping that leads to discriminatory job assignments (for example, on the basis of managerial opinion that certain races are more reliable, trustworthy, or better at certain tasks) is illegal, as is harassment that leads to a hostile work environment.  All employees have the right to come to work without fear of being persecuted or intimidated because of their race.


If you feel you have been the victim of a discriminatory incident, or you have been asked to participate in a company practice that you feel is discriminating, then you should contact the ICHR, which will advise you as to how to proceed.  After a short investigation, the ICHR will tell you whether you should try to resolve the issue within the company, or whether it will step in to try to settle the matter for you.  If neither of these solutions is appropriate, then the ICHR may suggest that you file a discrimination charge.  It is often advisable to hire a private attorney to help build your case as navigating the court system can be tricky.  Depending on your case, you may file a charge at the state level or be referred to the EEOC to file at the federal level.  Do be aware, however, that EEOC cases have a statute of limitations of 180 days from the time of the discriminatory incident in question to the time that the complaint may be filed.