Labor Law: Racial Discrimination in South Dakota


Area of Law: 

Even though more and more laws are being put into place everyday to help make South Dakota a more racially fair state, there are still some cases in which racial discrimination happens in the workplace, whether intentionally or otherwise.  It is important for everyone in the workplace to make an effort to increase awareness about what constitutes racial discrimination and to discern whether or not there are any practices going on in the office that constitute discriminatory conduct.  You also need to be aware on a personal level about your rights and what you can do if you want to pursue a discrimination claim.  Many instances of discrimination go unreported in South Dakota, either because of fear of confrontation in a courtroom or because the worker needs the job and is afraid of company retaliation (which is also illegal).


In South Dakota, it is against both state and federal laws for any workplace decision to be made that involves discrimination based on skin color or ethnicity.  In practical terms, this law covers the workplace itself as well as anything that goes on in labor unions.  If someone in the workplace files a complaint against his or her employer, it is against the law for the employer to retaliate in any way.  In other words, if you are discriminated against and you report it and the company finds out, the company is not allowed to fire or punish you as a result.  The company is also not allowed to discriminate against you for filing a claim if you are up for a promotion or some other placement.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) allows for both individual and class action suits when it comes to employment discrimination charges.  This means that if discrimination is widespread in your company and was not experienced as a single instance limited to your own experience, then all of the wronged parties can file together in a class action.  The EEOC requires that the filing must occur no later than 180 days after the alleged act of discrimination, which in basic terms means that you have six months to get everything together and file.  


Trying to determine which discrimination cases will result in a favorable judgement can be tricky as discrimination can refer to many things, and it sometimes can be difficult to show evidence of discrimination.  Some of the most obvious offenses include inequality of wages and unfair dismissal or promotion.  But other things, like hurtful or offensive comments, can constitute a hostile work environment, which makes it difficult for all employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability.  Reporting a racial discrimination incident can be intimidating, but the law is on your side, and the more cases that are reported, the more quickly racial discrimination can be eliminated from the workplace entirely.