The fatal shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, 2021, which took the lives of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, demonstrate that anti-minority biases and discrimination, specifically those against Asian American, are still prevalent in American society. Since March 2020 to February 2021, Asian Americans have witnessed and experienced an increase in hate incidents, including but not limited to physical assault and verbal harassment. Some believe COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic are responsible for this outbreak of violence against Asians. Anti-Asian biases and discrimination are found in all facets of American society, including the workplace.
Ohio and federal law both protect those born in Asian countries or those with Asian descent from discrimination in the workplace. Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4112 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 make it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees based on “protected classes,” which include an employee’s “race” and “national origin.” As a result, employees are protected from discrimination based on their Asian descent and/or birth in an Asian country.
Discrimination against Asian Americans can take many forms. But inherently, workplace discrimination occurs when an employer terminates, refuses to hire, or otherwise treats an employee differently with respect to his or her hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of the employee’s race or national origin. Discrimination may also take the form of harassment and being subjected to a hostile work environment. Harassment and hostile work environments are often characterized by demeaning, abusive, and offensive language or, physical invasions.
Few employers identify that they are terminating you, harassing you, or taking some other adverse employment action against you because you are an Asian American, i.e. “we are letting you go because we need more Americans.” More likely than not, you will have to show that other employees, who are not Asian American, are treated differently or more favorably than you to prove you have been discriminated against based on your Asian descent or country of origin.
Further complicating matter, employers often cloak their true discriminatory intentions behind what, at first, appears to be valid business justifications, i.e. “we are cutting costs” or “we are going in a different direction.” For this reason, it is important you speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible to help you with your matter.
If you feel as if you are being harassed, discriminated against, or treated differently based on your Asian descent or some other protected class, please act soon as Governor DeWine recently enacted a new law that will take effect in mid-April 2021 that shortens the statute of limitations for bringing a claim of discrimination.