Is there any action I can take if I think that I may be a victim of employment discrimination?

I am a black male engineering student working at a on campus research lab. I’ve been working there for 8 months. My position is mentored and I hoped to be a supervisor by now. The managers brought me into the office and told me they wanted to give me the position a month ago. They already have me doing supervisor tasks such as conducting trainings, suphold tasks, closing the lab down. About 2-3 weeks ago, they called me into the lab and asked me questions about my role. They told me that the director said he

Asked on February 24, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You *may* have an employment discrimination case: it depends on whether the director's dislike is real and, if real, is non-racially based, or not. A director or other executive/manager may make promotion (or hiring, retention, etc.) decisions on a subjective basis--i.e. simply because she doesn't like someone's personality. That is generally legal.
But the exception to the legality is if the reason is really a veil, whether conscious/deliberate or unconscious, for racism: a job decision may not be based on race, even at the level of, say, someone having an unconscious personal bias against African Americans (or Africans, people from the Carribean, etc.--I'll use African American to cover all such individuals for this answer).
What is the racial make-up of the department faculty and management? If there are other African American supervisors, that decreases the likelihood that the action is racially biased, and  in a legal case, would provide good (not necessarily sufficient or winning, but certainly good) evidence for the campus. But if there are no or disproportionately few other African Americans, and/or African Americans hold inexplicably (based on experience, qualifications, etc.) low-level positions, then it is more likely that this is racially based, and such statistics would help you in any claim.
If you believe that is racially motivated, then contact the federal EEOC or our state civil/equal rights agency to see about filing a complaint. Good luck.


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