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Report: Black employees often left out of high-paying jobs

The public conversation surrounding sexual harassment has alerted many employers to the problem of gender-based discrimination in the workplace. But there is another form of discrimination that has also seen several public, though less-famous, allegations: Racial discrimination.

According to a new report, many black employees are left out of high-paying jobs—and racial discrimination may be a culprit. Frequently, people of color report that they are not treated equally to their white peers. This may manifest in fewer job offers, being relegated to lower-paying positions or being promoted at a slower rate, if at all. 

Using information from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Associated Press recently conducted a study on race in the workplace. Its findings are disheartening: In the job categories that command the highest median annual salaries, black workers are far outnumbered by their white colleagues. In management, the rate of white to black workers is 10-to-1; in computers and mathematics, 8-to-1; in law, 12-to-1. It would be easy to dismiss these statistics, or to look for causes other than discrimination. But the findings indicate that “structural discrimination” may be a major contributing factor to the lack of black employees in high-paying jobs.

Racial discrimination and employers

Though racial discrimination has received less public attention than gender discrimination, it is a very real issue all around the country. From auto manufacturer Tesla, Inc. to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, high-profile entities and businesspeople have been accused of workplace racial discrimination.

Even employers that do not discriminate face the risk of lawsuits. Most employers simply want to hire and promote the best candidates available—no matter what race. But this has not discouraged employees in the past from filing lawsuits alleging workplace discrimination. And justified or not, discrimination lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming and can bring very negative media attention. Employers should take extra care to treat all employees fairly, and to know their legal options if accused of racial discrimination.

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