Can An Employee Sue The Employer For A Customer's Racial Discrimination?

Law Blog

When you're at work, you may face racial discrimination from a customer. Is this just a mean customer or something that your employer has to deal with? Here's what you should know.

What Is Racial Discrimination?

Racial discrimination is actions taken based on your race or the color of your skin. This might include a customer using racial slurs against an employee. It could also include a customer refusing to be served by an employee of a specific race.

Is It Legal for a Customer to Engage in Racial Discrimination?

There are generally no laws that would punish a customer who engages in racial discrimination. This is considered freedom of speech even if reasonable people would all agree that it is highly inappropriate. This means that there's usually no way for an employee to sue a customer for racial discrimination.

One exception would be if the discrimination rises to harassment. Harassment is a series of actions meant to annoy or degrade an individual and can also include things like threats that don't quite rise to criminal assault and battery. Harassment may be considered a crime and may also give an employee a civil claim.

What Can an Employer Do About a Customer's Discrimination?

An employer might say that they can't keep a customer from discriminating against an employee. This is partly true. An employer can't possibly prevent a customer from suddenly using racial slurs against an employee or a new customer from walking in and refusing to work with an employee of a specific race.

The employer can control what happens next. The employer can ask a customer to apologize for very minor incidents that might not have been intended or ask the customer to leave and not come back for serious incidents of discrimination. The employee should have the ability to disengage from customers making them feel uncomfortable, and there should be a manager or someone else with the authority to deal with the customer.

How Is an Employer Liable if They Don't Take Action?

If an employer doesn't take action against discrimination by a customer, they are essentially allowing it. This creates a hostile working environment and may also give the impression that the employer supports the discrimination. This is not a sign of an inclusive workplace. An employer who allows discrimination is not protecting the employee's rights and is liable for a racial discrimination claim.

To learn more about racial discrimination claims, contact a local employment law attorney today.


16 April 2021

Choosing To Fight

Although I am far from perfect, I have focused on abiding by the local laws for the vast majority of my life. Unfortunately, about five years ago, I realized that I was being accused of a crime that I didn't commit. I thought about letting the trial run its course, but then I realized that fighting would be important to ensure my future. I teamed up with a great lawyer, and things became much easier overnight. My legal counsel told me what to do and what to avoid, and he was able to prove the facts in a court of law. This blog is all about choosing to fight charges.