The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us. Asian-Americans in particular have faced an increase in discrimination, according to an article published by the Pew Research Center. When surveyed, 31% of Asian-Americans say they have been subject to racial slurs or jokes since the coronavirus outbreak. Further, 58% of Asian-Americans say its more common for people to express racist views since the coronavirus outbreak. Politics aside, phrases like the “China virus” and “Kung Flu” are appalling, hurtful, inappropriate anywhere, and illegal in the workplace.
I saw another article from Forbes that is a good read about Asian-American discrimination in the workplace. When it comes employee discrimination, there are several protected classes. Asian-Americans fall into two classes – race and national origin. Companies cannot make hiring decisions based upon race or national origin. Likewise, businesses cannot fire, demote, or pass over employees based upon their national origin or race. And it is illegal for employers to harass or mistreat Asian Americans simply because they are Asian Americans.
Example of Asian American Discrimination
A New Jersey, Asian-American firefighter filed a discrimination lawsuit against a Deputy Fire Chief and the City of Plainfield. He alleges that the Chief made racist comments about Asians to him during the fire department’s training on COVID-19. According to the lawsuit, the Chief asked if he had recently been to Wuhan, China. Additionally, he squinted his eyes so that they narrowed in a racist caricature of Asian facial features. Also, according to the lawsuit, The actions and leadership of Martino has created a work environment wherein firefighters now believe it is acceptable workplace behavior to openly disparage Asian Americans for their race and as being responsible for the spread of coronavirus.
Because Asian-American discrimination is on the rise, Janet Dhillon, Chair of the EEOC, issued a statement on the EEOC website. Her statement bluntly says, Sadly, there have also been reports of mistreatment and harassment of Asian Americans and other people of Asian descent. In the workplace, these actions can result in unlawful discrimination on the basis national origin or race.
Anyone with a heart and a brain will join me in hoping that people stop discriminating against Asians. Just like discrimination against other protected classes, however, I know it will not stop, unfortunately. I do what I can to help put an end to it in the workplace. If you are a target of discrimination based on your race or national origin, feel free to call me. My team and I will aggressively advocate on your behalf in the interest of justice, equality, doing what is right, and ending discrimination.