Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation released its latest research report, Confronting Racial Bias at Work: Challenges and Solutions for 21st Century Employment Discrimination at their 2016 Facing Race National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Coming on the heels of a presidential election that will weigh heavily on the future of racial and social justice in this country, the research report examines the effectiveness of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and/or national origin.
Confronting Racial Bias at Work provides readers with a bird’s-eye view of the systemic barriers that too often block workers of color seeking justice at each stage of the Title VII system of protection, which operates on a largely reactive and case by case basis. The report takes a critical look at the origins of Title VII and how the law is falling short of systemic racial equity that workers of color need and deserve.
Findings show worker advocates across multiple industries report that intentional and unintentional racism as well as gender discrimination occur “frequently” or are a “daily reality.” The Confronting Racial Bias at Work report argues that we must not only reinforce the largely reactive anti-discrimination structure established by law so that it reaches more workers and protects them more effectively, but we must also promote proactive systemic solutions to increase the pressures, incentives, and mandates for racially equitable outcomes in employment.
“More than 50 years after Title VII’s inception, Confronting Racial Bias at Work, serves as a wake-up call that workers of color still face far too many barriers when seeking justice within the anti-discrimination system created by the law,” says Race Forward Research Director Dom Apollon.
Confronting Racial Bias at Work draws from academic research, interviews with discrimination lawyers and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) officials, and surveys of worker advocates with a specific focus on three worker organizations: The Los Angeles Black Workers Center, the National Domestic Workers Alliance in Massachusetts, and the Laundry Workers Center in New York City. The report details how these organizations have had to resort to other approaches, including advocating for state and local protection for excluded workers, utilizing local policies that require companies to improve hiring practices, and engaging consumers through public campaigns.
The report is comprised of four sections:
Part One: Covers the legislative origins of the EEOC, the federal agency created by Title VII in the 1960s to protect workers against intentional discrimination.
Part Two: Covers the difference between how workers’ racial discrimination claims are supposed to operate in theory within our federal courts and bureaucracies, and the extremely challenging way that they operate in practice.
Part Three: Profiles recent campaigns from three resourceful worker organizations that have felt forced to work largely outside of the slow and limited legal and administrative systems established by Title VII.
Part Four: Presents systemic solutions and recommendations.