Workplace race discrimination involves treating a Maryland employee or job applicant unfavorably because they are of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as their hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features).
A related concept, workplace color discrimination, involves treating a Maryland employee or job applicant unfavorably because of their skin color or complexion.
Workplace race discrimination also can involve treating someone unfavorably because the person is married to (or associated with) a person of a certain race or color. Contrary to popular knowledge, workplace race discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same race or color.
At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we are proud to represent victims of workplace race discrimination in every Maryland federal, state, and administrative court—combatting racism in the workplace and advancing the cause of racial equality for our clients, but also future generations to come.
Federal Race DISCRIMINATION laws
There are two important federal laws prohibiting workplace race discrimination. The first is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The second is the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (known as Section 1981). Let's talk about each in turn.
Title VII applies to Maryland employers who have at least 15 employees (this does not include independent contractors).
Title VII prohibits a variety of discriminatory employment actions—if they are based in part on race or color. These include racially discriminatory actions in:
terminations (i.e., firings or layoffs);
negative referrals to a prospective employer; and,
While many individuals and employers are familiar with Title VII, they may be less familiar with the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (Section 1981). Like Title VII, Section 1981 protects Maryland employees from discriminatory employment decisions based on race. However, there are some important differences between the two federal laws, including:
Section 1981 only protects against race discrimination (whereas Title VII protects against other types of discrimination, like sex discrimination);
Section 1981 covers all private employers, regardless of the number of employees;
Section 1981 contains no statute of limitations (however, Maryland's two-year statute of limitations applies)
Under Section 1981, you do not need to file an administrative complaint of workplace race discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before you file a lawsuit in federal court.
Section 1981 only applies in cases where the employer is charged with intentional discrimination; and,
Section 1981 does not provide a statutory cap to its punitive damage awards.
At the Employment Law Center of Maryland, we file workplace race discrimination cases in the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Maryland. If you need to speak with a Maryland race discrimination lawyer, contact us today for a confidential lawyer consultation.
Maryland Race DISCRIMINATION laws
Workplace race and color discrimination is illegal in Maryland under Md. Code, State Gov't § 20-606 (Title 20).
Similarly to Title VII, Maryland's Title 20 states that a Maryland employer may not "fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the individual's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of [race] [or] [color]," and further states than a Maryland employer may not "discriminate or retaliate against any of its employees or applicants for employment" because they oppose (i.e., complain of) race discrimination at work.
Like Title VII, Title 20 only applies to employers "engaged in business or industry that employs at least 15 employees."
LOCAL Race DISCRIMINATION Laws
At least five Maryland counties have their own laws prohibiting race discrimination in the workplace.
The following Maryland county codes prohibit race-based discrimination in the workplace, and allow for discrimination lawsuits to be filed charging violations of county fair-employment statutes or codes:
Baltimore County. The Baltimore County Code prohibits race discrimination in the workplace by employers of any size.
Frederick County. The Frederick County Code prohibits race discrimination in the workplace by employers with at least 15 employees.
Howard County. The Howard County Code prohibits race discrimination in the workplace by employers with at least 5 employees.
Prince George's County. The Prince George's County Code prohibits race discrimination in the workplace by employers of any size.
Some Maryland counties (e.g., Montgomery County) prohibit race discrimination in the workplace by employers of any size—unlike federal or state law.
For more on workplace race discrimination in Maryland, check out our team's most recent blog post on this topic:
For additional resources on race discrimination in the workplace in Maryland, check out the following helpful links: