Can My Employer or Co-Workers Make Demeaning or Derogatory Comments Because I am Chinese or of Asian National Origin?

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The last thing on an employee’s mind while heading to work, ready to crush the day, is preparing for a racially-charged attack from their coworkers. Whether these insensitive comments were made in jest or as a personal tirade specifically for them, nothing is more insulting than being discriminated against for variables outside of a person’s control.

Worse, many employees feel the need to “suck it up” or ignore these comments for fear of losing their employment status. Rather than confronting their attacker and letting them know their remarks are hurtful and inappropriate, they hide away for fear of being ridiculed or losing their primary source of income.

In the United States of America, these instances are not only discouraged, but they also act as fuel for legal recourse. If you’re an Asian worker who takes pride in your culture and ethnic background, here’s what you need to know about racism in professional environments.

Racism in the Workplace Made Simple

One aspect of our country that makes it so desirable for outsiders is our ability to speak freely and openly without being imprisoned by legal forces. However, what happens when the speech shared by other individuals interferes with day-to-day interactions occurring within the office or offends individuals in the area?

In 1964, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act set out to protect minority groups from racial discrimination and attacks from outsiders. In today’s day and age, this acts as a policy that prevents employers and fellow workers from making racist comments about individuals within the organization. In layman’s terms, your race and nationality should never be a variable within a professional setting, nor should it be used as fodder for jokes or verbal assaults.

How and When Does This Policy Apply to My Situation?

There’s a multitude of criteria that counts as racism within the workplace, but when slurs are unwelcomed and occur consistently, employees should consider their legal options. Although many people use racially-charged jokes and comments as a means of bonding or jovial discourse between friends, any comments made regularly should be examined further.

The title also protects individuals from being fired, hired, abused or physically attacked because of their race. Should you encounter an instance of this occurring, contacting a legal representative is a logical step to take.

Racism on Various Mediums

Although racially-charged remarks are rarely spoken out loud in the workplace, many individuals find instances of discrimination occurring on alternative platforms. To clear things up, Title VII states that all acts of racism, regardless of where they are shared or who they are shared with, count as discrimination towards minority groups. While your experience may vary, here are the most common places where racism against employees is shared:

  • Email
  • Text
  • Phone calls
  • Memos
  • Non-verbal communication

Similarly, racism extends past verbal communication or empirical data. Crass gestures, costumes, actions, jokes and insensitive innuendos constitute as real racism and does not protect the harasser from legal recourse or being reprimanded by a superior.

Should I Ignore the Comments or Take Action?

If you’re a Chinese national or an individual whose roots originate in an Asiatic country, and you feel attacked by coworkers or superiors based on your race or nationality, considering legal action is your next step.

Ask yourself a serious question: do the insults and attacks cause personal turmoil, create intimidation or cause anxiety to mount? If so, exploring the legal options available to you makes sense. No matter which country you originate from, while you work within the United States of America, you’re free to pursue any endeavor you wish.

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