Throughout the United States, federal law prohibits workplace discrimination based on an employee’s race or characteristics associated with their race. However, we continue to see instances of racial discrimination throughout all stages in the employment cycle such as in hiring, training, promoting, providing benefits, compensation, and termination.
Below, we take a closer look at allegations of racial discrimination at three large US-based companies.
Amazon’s Alleged Discriminatory Hiring Policies
A Black Amazon employee, Charlotte Newman, filed a lawsuit against the company for failing to promote and underpaying minority employees. Her lawyers claim that Amazon has a history of hiring Black employees to positions for which they are overqualified.
Newman alleged that she interviewed for a senior manager position after obtaining a master’s degree at Harvard University. Amazon offered Newman a position one pay grade down from the senior manager job, but still asked to Newman to perform senior manager duties.
Newman alleged economic damages including losing out on the receipt of lucrative company shares whose value have increased significantly over time. Amazon provides company shares as part of their compensation package, given in proportion to each employee’s job level.
Edward Jones’s Alleged Discriminatory Working Conditions
The St. Louis-based financial firm Edward Jones recently agreed to a $34 million dollar settlement in a class action lawsuit involving about 800 former and current Black employees.
Edward Jones had a policy of recouping training costs from junior advisors who left the firm to work for competitors. The lawsuit alleged that this practice disproportionally harmed Black employees who had unequal access to opportunities at the firm and failed at a higher rate than their white counterparts.
The lawsuit also claimed that more accounts were assigned to white brokers. The firm attempted to address this in 2019 by revising their account distribution system. Since then, brokers have received production bonuses for giving accounts to female and minority brokers.
Edward Jones is creating a new financial advisor counsel to address diversity issues moving forward. They are also revamping their training cost recuperation policies, setting the maximum amount at $50,000 (down from $75,000).
Starbucks’s Alleged Discriminatory Promotion Practices
Earlier this year, Starbucks reached a confidential agreement with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after the EEOC alleged that the company used discriminatory promotion policies. The EEOC evaluated promotion data from 2007-2011 and found that minority employees received fewer promotions during that time period than expected.
Starbucks agreed to change their promotion policies to ensure equality across all employees. All retail job postings will now be tracked through an online company application system. Workers will no longer be promoted outside of the formal system. Starbucks has also hired an independent labor economist to analyze diversity promotion data and to provide goals to keep the company on track.
Steps Toward A Discrimination-Free Workplace
Racial discrimination can take many forms in the employment context. These three stories illustrate how discrimination can manifest in workplaces across the country. While 2020 saw many cries for racial equality, there is still a lot of work to be done before minorities can find equality in the workplace. Employees who believe they are experiencing racial discrimination in the workplace should contact an experienced employment lawyer for a free consultation.