Discrimination Against Black Workers

Los Angeles Black Worker Center
October 5, 2017
Discrimination has created a crisis in the Black community. Although the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids racial discrimination in the workplace, black workers continue to face higher rates of discrimination in the workforce than white workers do. ‘Whether working full-time or part-time, Black workers earn only three-quarters of what white workers earn,’ as stated in the introduction of the brief.

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Dear Friends and Allies:The Los Angeles Black Worker Center (LABWC) and National Employment Law Project (NELP) demonstrates the need for California to explore expanded anti-employment discrimination to better protect workers in the era of Trump.

You can download the white paper HERE

You can view the white paper HERE

Los Angeles, California, October 5, 2017 - The National Employment Law Project and the Los Angeles Black Worker Center released a white paper today that offers analysis on why anti-discrimination laws must be strengthened to protect communities of color in the workforce as national civil rights enforcement agencies are threatened with cuts and elimination.  The report is published as a broad coalition of unemployed, underemployed and union workers call on Governor Brown to sign Senate Bill SB 491- The California Anti-Employment Discrimination Action of 2017- a bill that would begin the process of expanding anti-discrimination enforcement authority to local governments to fill the enforcement gap.

Titled, “Ensuring Equality for All Californians in the Workplace: The Case for Local Enforcement of Anti-Discrimination Laws,” this white paper points out the decline in federal investments into civil rights protections comes at a time of by increased civil rights complaints, making imperative that local governments join federal and state agencies in helping to enforce anti-discrimination legislation.. It explores the complexity of 21st century workplace discrimination and how and why local enforcement in California could provide greater opportunity to address  civil rights  violations faced by Black workers and other groups in the workplace.

“The moral and economic crisis of racism affects our entire State,” said Lola Smallwood Cuevas, co-founder of the LA Black Worker Center. “It has caused a crisis in the Black community.  We know Governor Brown recognizes that CA must commit to resist the attack on Californians by national forces. Expanding anti-employment discrimination enforcement is needed now more more than ever. We need to build infrastructure to effectively protect workers where the discrimination happens.”.

The Los Angeles Black Worker Center and SEIU USWW- the janitors union are co-chairs of  “Black Workers United” Coalition, a constellation of 40 organizations representing Black workers, women, immigrants and other protected classes as well as  unemployed, underemployed union workers from across CA.  This coalition is calling on Governor Brown to pass this urgent and important bill.

Discrimination has created a crisis in the Black community. Although the passage of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids racial discrimination in the workplace, black workers continue to face higher rates of discrimination in the workforce than white workers do. ‘Whether working full-time or part-time, Black workers earn only three-quarters of what white workers earn,’ as stated in the introduction of the brief.

“Senate Bill 491 is a vital first step in engaging local governments in enforcing anti-discrimination protections,” said Phil Hernandez, staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. Addressing and remedying workplace discrimination requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach, particularly given shrinking federal investment in enforcing anti-discrimination laws, and judicial remedies that are often out of reach for victims of discrimination. As the experiences of localities across California have shown in the enforcement of minimum wage and other workplace regulations, allowing local agencies to help detect, prevent and remedy these violations can achieve broader compliance and provide those who have been victims of discrimination with another avenue to obtain relief.   We strongly urge the Governor to sign this legislation into law.”

The report made the following key findings:

1. The federal government is rolling back civil rights enforcement efforts.  For example, at the federal level, the Trump administration’s proposed budget called for eliminating 249 full-time staff positions at the EEOC as compared to FY 2016 staffing. The Trump administration also proposes significant budget cuts to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which investigates complaints of discrimination in school districts.

2. Workers face difficulties in using courts to confront racism in the workplace. Workers often face hurdles in using the judicial system. Litigation is costly and time-consuming, and ill-suited for those seeking immediate relief or do not have the financial resources to invest in a lawsuit, or are unable to secure representation.

3. Local entities can provide an alternative avenue to identifying and redressing civil rights violations. Local authorities can help investigate, monitor and resolve complaints, and can work with local community groups and advocates to identify complaints and implement preventative trainings and other outreach initiatives

The reports also outlines recommendations to combat employment discrimination, including :

1. Allow local agencies to enforce FEHA. Additionally, the report proposes that SB 491 authorizes local governments to partner immediately with the DFEH to develop a corresponding complaint process, subject to recommendations developed by a civil rights advisory group convened by the agency and composed of Department representatives and civil employer and employee advocates.

2. Create local administrative courts and local enforcement tools to resolve complaints. California cities could implement a similar process in which workers can choose to have their cases heard by an administrative law judge. The local administrative court would have the ability to force offending employers to take implicit bias and anti-racism training.

View the White Paper here:

Download the White Paper here:

The Los Angeles Black Worker Center envisions a world where Black workers thrive in an equitable economy that sustains and builds vibrant families and communities.

The mission of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center is to increase access to quality jobs, reduce employment discrimination, and improve industries that employ Black workers through action and unionization.

The Los Angeles Black Worker Center develops organized power and authentic grassroots leadership among Black workers (unionized, non-union, immigrant, formerly incarcerated and the unemployed) and among the extended community, to reverse the disproportionate levels of unemployment and underemployment in the Los Angeles Black community. The center seeks peace and prosperity for all of Los Angeles by developing policies and corporate practices that perpetuate equity in the labor market and end inferior jobs in the Black Community..

For more than 45 years, NELP has sought to ensure that America upholds for all workers her promise of opportunity and economic security through work. NELP fights for policies to create good jobs, expand access to work, and strengthen protections and support for low-wage workers and the unemployed. The National Employment Law Center publishes research that illuminates workers’ issues; promote policies that improve workers’ lives; lend deep legal and policy expertise to important cases and campaigns; and partner with allies to advance crucial reforms.

tags: Economy/Poverty/Wealth   
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