Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Race Discrimination

  • Who is protected under the law?
  • How does Title VII protect against discrimination?
  • What is intentional discrimination?

Who is protected under the law?

Title VII covers all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions that employ 15 or more individuals. Title VII also includes private and public employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees controlling apprenticeship and training.

Anti-discrimination protections apply to job applicants as well as current workers. If you are a current employee and are fired, not promoted, or paid at a lower rate, you are protected under the law. If you are not hired because of your race, you are also protected.

Many states also make it illegal to discriminate based on race. For more information, please see our page on the minimum number of employees needed to file a claim under your state law.

How does Title VII protect against discrimination?

The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment. This includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

  • Disparate treatment: when individuals are treated differently on purpose because of their race. Examples: offering ethnic minorities lower starting salaries, or posing different interview questions to white applicants and ethnic minorities.
  • Disparate impact: this is a negative impact that race discrimination might have. It happens when seemingly neutral workplace practices have an unnecessary and negative effect on members of a protected class. Examples: unnecessary requirements for one’s appearance, like requiring men to have short hair, which might eliminate qualified Native American applicants, or requiring hair to be straightened, which would unduly burden many African American women who have naturally curly hair.

There is a key legal distinction between disparate treatment and disparate impact race discrimination. A case involving disparate treatment requires a finding of intentional discrimination, and the individual must prove that the employer had a discriminatory intent or motive. However, disparate impact cases do not require a showing of intent.

What is intentional discrimination?

Intentional discrimination occurs when an employment decision is affected by the person's race. It includes not only racial animosity, but also conscious or unconscious stereotypes about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of certain racial groups.

Example: An upscale retail establishment with a sophisticated clientele rejects an African American male applicant. The hiring manager stereotypically believes that African American males do not convey a clean-cut image and that they lack the soft skills needed to service customers well. A finding of discrimination would be warranted

Thought of the Week

"It's part of the U.S.'s long history of xenophobia. And in particular, it highlights the ways in which immigrants have often been tied to disease. As a plague, or as an invasive threat or as carriers of a contagion and disease that will then ruin the United States. We've heard this before and unfortunately, we're hearing it again today… So the public health concerns and the rhetoric around immigrants and disease, what it does is that it helps to — it feeds and then it justifies existing stereotypes and racism around immigrants. And then leads to discriminatory public health policies that disproportionately impact specific immigrant groups and minority groups."

–Erika Lee, immigration and Asian American historian | Professor at the University of Minnesota

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Being an “Essential Worker” Won’t Save You From Deportation

Legions of undocumented immigrants in the United States carry letters signed by their employers stating that President Donald Trump's administration considers them essential workers amid the pandemic. While these letters exempt them from being arrested by local agents for violating stay-at-home orders, these workers could still be detained and deported by federal authorities.

Top Five News Headlines

  1. Reopening reality check: Georgia's jobs aren’t flooding back
  2. Menard Inc. in Michigan for Sued by EEOC for Sexual Harassment
  3. Senators release bill to offer $4,000 skills training credit to workers displaced by coronavirus
  4. Older Workers Must Be Proactive About Their Future
  5. Most U.S. workers intend to have a job during retirement

List of the Week

from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Unemployment Rate:

  • The unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent in April. 
  • The number of unemployed people rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April.
  • The number of unemployed people who reported being on temporary layoff increased by 16.2 million in April to 18.1 million.
  • The number of permanent job losers increased by 544,000 to 2.0 million.




    As of April 13, 2020, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has begun accepting applications for the broadest category of potential recipients under federal law reforms related to the COVID-19 pandemic.Under the various federal reforms, most Michigan workers who face job loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic should be eligible to receive unemployment benefits including a $600 per week federal supplement on top of basic benefits regularly provided by the state system. (more…)


    In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Azanean Petty was forced to choose between her safety and her job at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility when her employer denied her request to wear a protective mask while working in an environment with insufficient sanitation measures and inadequate social distancing. Ms. Petty was forced to hand in her resignation after she spoke up about safety concerns and refused to work without a mask for the protection of herself, the juvenile detainees, and the other employees in the facility.

    Her attorney Angela Walker filed the Whistleblower Lawsuit in Wayne County Circuit Court.  “Although the facility had apparently received N-95 masks for their employees, they told my client she was not allowed to wear it inside where the inmates are housed (more…)


    The COVID-19 Outbreak is presenting many challenges for the Michigan workplace.  Yet the law and circumstances are changing almost daily.  We are regularly monitoring and updating workplace rights resources we have found helpful.  We are updating this material as it becomes available.  Keep in mind this is not intended to be legal advice.  Legal rights in any individual case need to be evaluated in consultation with an attorney.


    As of April 13, 2020, the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has begun accepting applications for the broadest category of potential recipients under federal law reforms related to the COVID-19 pandemic. (more…)