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Employment Discrimination Blog

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Employment Discrimination Among Native Americans

What are my legal rights if I am discriminated against due to being Native American?

Native Americans today report experiencing high rates of employment discrimination across the country.  According to a new poll conducted by NPR, in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, about a third of Native Americans have suffered from discrimination in the workplace.  Instances of discrimination often include not being paid or promoted fairly and being fired for dressing or wearing their hair in a traditional Native American manner.  All Native Americans are protected from discrimination under federal law, but standing up for your legal rights can be confusing.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, and national origin.  It applies to any employer with 15 or more employees.  According to standards adopted by the National Institutes of Health and recognized nationally, American Indian is considered a race, and includes any person having origins in any of the original people of North and South America, and who maintains a community attachment or tribal affiliation.  Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians are also protected races.

Under federal law, it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because you are a Native American. Discrimination can be blatant, but it can also be hard to recognize.  One of the most common instances of employment discrimination involving Native Americans is unfair pay.  Research has demonstrated a significant racial earnings disparity in numerous states between Caucasian employees and Native American employees with similar skill sets.  Native Americans may also be turned down for jobs for which they are qualified or find themselves overlooked for promotions.  

All of these acts by an employer could constitute unlawful discrimination, depending on the precise circumstances surrounding your employment.  Any one of Native American descent who feels they have been discriminated against on the job should take action to protect their legal rights.  Follow the appropriate channels within your company to report the discrimination or harassment and contact an employment discrimination lawyer right away for an assessment of your legal rights.


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