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You are Here: Home > Discrimination > Reverse Discrimination

Reverse Discrimination

Reverse Discrimination Definition

Reverse discrimination means prejudice in employment (or education), caused by preferential treatment of female and minority-group workers to the detriment of male and majority-group workers.

Subsequently, reverse discrimination is sometimes referred to as reverse race discrimination or reverse racism. The terms came about because of affirmative action programs, which attempt to eliminate employment discrimination against women and minorities while compensating them for discriminatory injustices of the past.

Did you know? Claims by nonreligious workers have spawned the newer term reverse religious discrimination.

According to opponents of affirmative action programs, employers allegedly commit actionable reverse discrimination while implementing the programs, when they consider race or gender more than or instead of qualifications and merits.

For example, opponents would likely consider it to be reverse discrimination if an employer promoted an African American, Asian, Hispanic or female Caucasian worker to meet an affirmative action race or gender quota, while ignoring that a male Caucasian worker was more qualified for the position.

Reverse Discrimination Laws

There are no Federal "reverse discrimination laws" per se. Reverse discrimination typically falls under race, color or sex (gender) discrimination, all of which are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark Federal discrimination law.

Title VII protects workers of all races and skin colors and both genders from employment discrimination, not just minorities and women. However, affirmative action is so strong that, when circumstantial evidence is the only proof, some U.S. courts place more burden on white plaintiffs to prove reverse race discrimination than the courts typically place on minority plaintiffs to prove race discrimination.

Some courts place an extra burden of proof on white plaintiffs probably at least partially because affirmative action is designed not only to provide equal employment opportunity for minorities today, but also to make up for past discriminatory injustices by whites.

Regardless, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency responsible for enforcing Federal discrimination laws, indicates that it does not place an extra burden on white plaintiffs to prove that they suffered reverse race discrimination, even though some courts do.

Reverse Discrimination Legal Recourse

If you reasonably believe that an employer has reverse discriminated against you through implementation of an affirmative action program, then you may seek legal recourse (relief) by filing a discrimination charge against the employer with the EEOC (or a state equivalent). You may file the charge yourself or, to protect your identity, through your attorney or another representative.

An attorney will help you to collect evidence and file your charge in legalese, which might better compel the EEOC to act on your behalf or at least grant you the right to file a private, reverse discrimination lawsuit. (The EEOC receives thousands of discrimination charges annually and so, takes on only the most compelling cases.) Attorneys often take winnable discrimination cases on a contingency basis.

You must file a charge with the EEOC in order to later file a reverse discrimination lawsuit, if the EEOC doesn't do so on your behalf. The employer is prohibited from retaliating against you for reasonably filing a discrimination charge or lawsuit, or for participating in related proceedings. The same goes for witnesses who testify on your behalf, such as coworkers.

A statute of limitations applies, so don't wait too long to consult an attorney or file a charge after the first incident of alleged reverse discrimination against you.

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