Color discrimination is different from racial discrimination, even though many people confuse the two ideas. Color discrimination doesn’t relate to race; it relates to the color and shade of someone’s skin. In this respect, color discrimination can happen among people of the same race and ethnicity; it can also happen among people of different races and ethnicities.
According to the courts, the term “color” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 refers to skin complexion, skin pigmentation or skin shade. Under Title VII, all types of “color” discrimination are prohibited in the relationship between employers and their workers.
Here are some examples of behaviors that are prohibited related to color discrimination:
Making disparaging comments about an employee’s skin color: The sad truth is that human beings — when they have not been educated in the appropriate way — have a tendency to divide themselves on the basis of skin tone and other differences. But these superficial differences have nothing to do with someone’s capacity to get the job done. If an employer constantly draws attention to his or her employee’s skin color — especially if it is in a rude or hurtful way — this is color discrimination.
Refusing to hire someone on the basis of skin color: During the hiring process, an employer might select one employee over another because of his or her skin color. It’s difficult to prove when this happens, but sometimes, sufficient evidence from hiring records and existing employees exist to prove this kind of color discrimination in court.
Firing someone on the basis of skin color: Imagine there is a team of 10 light-skinned workers in an office and three dark-skinned workers, and there isn’t enough work to go around. When selecting employees to lay off, mysteriously all three of the dark-skinned workers lose their jobs. This could be color discrimination and it warrants a deeper investigation.
The victims of color discrimination could have their income-earning capacities — and their careers — destroyed. If you suffered from this kind of abuse, you might want to investigate your legal rights and options.