Race, Color and National Origin  

Race, Color and National Origin Discrimination 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an individual because of that individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Unlawful Practices 


Unlawful employment practices include discrimination in hiring, compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based upon race, color or national origin.  The U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has clarified “that although the statute mentions specific employment decisions with immediate consequences, the scope of the prohibition is not limited to ‘economic’ or ‘tangible’ discrimination.”  The touchstone for establishing an “adverse employment action” is to demonstrate that the employee suffered a material difference in his or her terms or conditions of employment.


Missouri law explicitly forbids race discrimination or discrimination based on an individual's color.  This prohibition is not limited to a particular racial group; instead, race or color has been entirely removed from the spectrum of permissible considerations in making employment decisions.

Like Title VII, the MHRA considered discrimination to be any specific adverse employment action.  Determining whether specific conduct or actions constitute unfair treatment because of race or color, however, can sometimes be difficult, and this determination will likely continue to be made based upon the particular facts of a given case.


The Illinois Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment, real estate transactions, financial credit, and access to public accommodations. The IHRA prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, order of protection status, disability, military status, sexual orientation, or unfavorable discharge from military service.”


It is also a civil rights violation to retaliate against someone for filing a charge of discrimination or who opposes discrimination. Additionally, it is a violation for an employer to prohibit a foreign language from being spoken by employees in communications unrelated to their duties.

Non-Minority Employees

Federal protections against discrimination are not limited to members of minority groups, for reverse discrimination against non-minority groups is also prohibited by Title VII.  Moreover, the United States Supreme Court has held that, for purposes of standing, an “aggrieved” person under Title VII includes any person with an interest arguably sought to be protected by the statute.


Title VII also prohibits discrimination against an individual who has opposed any practice made unlawful by Title VII or made a charge, testified, or assisted in a Title VII investigation or proceeding.  


Retaliation under Title VII includes employer conduct that retaliates against someone within the opposing or participating employee's “zone of interest.” The Supreme Court has held that terminating an employee because he was the fiancé of another employee who participated in Title VII proceedings and/or opposed a discriminatory practice constituted unlawful retaliation.  

Have you experienced discrimination in the workplace based on your race, color or national origin?
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