After the end of the Civil War, Congress enacted Section 1981, outlawing bias based on race in contracts.
But “race” is a general term that also includes classifications based on qualities like being identified as German, Russian or Arab.
Recent case: Shu-Lien Chang sued the restaurant where she worked, alleging that she was harassed because of her Asian race. She based her suit on Section 1981. Her employer argued that the law didn’t cover national-origin discrimination.
The court agreed, but said that her identification as a member of the Asian race was different. It said that ethnicity and characteristics common to people from particular countries can be “race” for lawsuit purposes. (Chang v. Sodexho, No. 5:11-CV-935, ND OH, 2011)
- Check severity of harassment allegations when facing hostile environment claim
- Special performance measures deviate from usual practice? Be sure to document reason
- Be prepared to explain bonus before discharge
- Despite contract, union members can sue directly
- Definition of 'work environment' just got wider--so did your risk