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Racial discrimination is one of the most common types of workplace discrimination in the United States. According to statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a racial component has been present in around a third of discrimination charges brought in the past twenty years.

Unfortunately, research shows that the outcomes in cases settled by the EEOC don’t usually favor the workers. In 82% of the cases, the workers didn’t receive any form of relief. It’s not that hard to understand why the EEOC has such a track record, either. It’s common knowledge that the EEOC suffers from chronic underfunding and understaffing.

Occasionally, however, a case comes up that brings some hope to people looking for justice in cases of racial discrimination. The recent Marquez Brothers $2M settlement is one of them.

What Do We Know about the Marquez Brothers Discrimination Case?

On September 18, the EEOC released an announcement about the outcome of a lawsuit it brought more than two years ago. The defendant was Marquez Brothers International, Inc. and its affiliates. The lawsuit claimed that the food product company gave preferential treatment to Hispanic job applicants. This was done at the disadvantage of non-Hispanics.

The two job applicants who are identified in the lawsuit are black. They tried to find employment with Marquez Brothers at their facility in Hanford, California but were denied.

An EEOC investigation, however, found that people of other races were discriminated against, too. The application process isn’t any easier for whites, Asians, or members of other non-Hispanic races. It didn’t happen only in Hanford, either. Other locations in California exhibited the same behavior. It was present in plants in Texas, Nevada, and Colorado, too.

The practices they used to discriminate included refusing to accept applications from non-Hispanics. The company also asked for language ability that wasn’t actually necessary for the job.

What Are the Terms of the Settlement?

According to the EEOC, Marquez Brothers has agreed to pay $2 million to settle the discrimination suit. It covers a period from 2010 to the present. There are eight states besides California where the relief applies: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

The company has also agreed to put in place other forms of relief. Those include measures aimed to prevent these forms of discrimination from occurring again.

Marquez Brothers Inc. has agreed to hire an external monitor, for example, and they pledged to improve hiring transparency. They will put in place a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints. The three-year implementation of the decree will be supervised by the court.

How to Spot Racial Discrimination in Your Job Search

To a lot of people who’ve been a part of the workforce in an ethnically or racially diverse region, this kind of racial discrimination isn’t a surprise. A business hiring only the people whose race aligns with its branding, or the race of its customers, is an all-too-common sign of national origin, ethnic, or racial discrimination.

Here are some signs that the place you want to work may have problems with discriminating policies:

  • A job ad that suggests only a certain group should apply for the job. Explicit and implicit suggestions count.
  • Interview questions that refer to certain groups in an inadequate or discriminating way.
  • A highly homogenous existing workforce. At the very least, a workforce that obviously lacks diversity.
  • A high turnover rate in a certain racial or ethnic group. A sure sign of a hostile workplace.

You should be on the lookout for these symptoms of workplace discrimination. Even if it’s not your racial or ethnic group that’s discriminated against, a workplace that discriminates against some isn’t good for anyone.

What You Need to Know

Given the imbalance between the EEOC’s workload and the resources at its disposal, any news of relief is good news. It’s even better when the company adopts measures that will make it less likely for future applicants to face the same type of discrimination. 

People who can prove they were discriminated against by Marquez Brothers as far back as 2010 will not become a part of the 82% of people who do not get any form of relief. 

This case is also a shining example of the fact that you don’t have to be an employee to be protected against discrimination. Even though proving discrimination in hiring is generally difficult to do, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t contact a lawyer if you think you’ve been discriminated against.