A “typical” case of race discrimination in employment involves the mistreatment of an individual because of his or her race. A black man may be passed over for promotion or lose his job while less capable white colleagues advance. Latino workers are subjected to racist jokes while being paid less for the same work performed by others. Racism of this type in the workplace is disturbingly common.
But not every case fits this “typical” mold. A case currently generating headlines alleges racism in a different way. Nick Strom was recently let go as the football and golf coach at Camden Catholic High School. He has been put on administrative leave in his role as a history teacher at the institution. Nick Strom, who is white, says he was let go because he allowed too many black players on his team. It is not Mr. Strom’s race that is at issue. Rather, it is his unwillingness to engage in illegal race discrimination. Costello & Mains has agreed to represent Mr. Strom.
The details of Mr. Strom’s case notwithstanding, the allegations raise an important point about racism in the workplace and in our society. Anti-discrimination laws, both in New Jersey and in federal law, can be applied to people of any race. If you are being mistreated because you won’t play along with racist policies, because you associate with members of a different race, or because you share traits stereotypically associated with another race, you are experiencing racism. Interracial couples know this form of racism very well.
The law can protect people who refuse to participate in racial bias in their jobs. Just because a boss, administrator or owner has racist beliefs, does not mean you have to support racist policies. It is up to all of us to stand up and protest when we see racism rear its ugly head.