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The challenge of erasing discrimination from the workplace

One of the goals of a lawsuit is to bring about change. When lawsuits accuse California agencies or businesses of discrimination, it is hoped that a large payout will somehow teach a lesson that such behavior is intolerable. However, it seems that change is sometimes slow to occur, and this can be costly to an organization that refuses to examine its policies of racial bias.

In another state, one city's fire department recently agreed to a $100 million settlement with a group of black firefighters who alleged that the company had discriminated against them for years. Nevertheless, such accusations continue to surround the company, and a new lawsuit has been filed at the federal level. More than seeking money, the victim in this case desires cultural change.

The African-American woman at the center of the complaint has worked as a computer specialist for the fire company for 30 years. In that time, she received no discretionary raises or promotions even though white women were hired and promoted above her into managerial positions. She is not alone in sensing a pattern of racial discrimination. Six other employees have joined her class action suit, claiming decades of unfair treatment against workers of color.

When systematic discrimination has been part of a workplace culture for generations, it may be difficult to alter the environment. Bringing accusations of racial bias to the courtroom is a bold step, but it is often the most powerful way to effect change. Those in California facing similar situations have every right to seek the guidance and support of an experienced attorney to determine the best course of action.

Source:, "Lawsuit filed against FDNY claiming race discrimination", Rob Nelson, Dec. 6, 2017

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