Take same-race discrimination complaints seriously

Don't allow discrimination to continue at your workplace simply because the "discriminator" and "discriminatee" are in the same racial minority. Just as supervisors over age 40 can be guilty of age discrimination, racial minorities can (and increasingly do) discriminate against other racial minorities.

The EEOC is seeing increasing numbers of racial discrimination complaints between people of the same race, said EEOC Vice-Chairwoman Naomi Earp at a recent HR law conference. Complaints often revolve around discrimination based on an employee's color.

Earp said race-bias claims in general are on the rise. As a result, the EEOC plans to release a new compliance manual on race and color by the end of 2005.

Advice: Make sure supervisors realize that same-race discrimination is illegal. Also, ensure that your anti-discrimination policy and training specifically ban discrimination based on an employee's skin tone. Title VII not only makes it illegal for you to discriminate based on someone's race or nationality, but also on the shade of his or her skin.