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Native Americans report frequent workplace discrimination

Discrimination can be a major concern for many people in the workplace in New York and across the country. One group that has been impacted by employment discrimination as well as oppression and racism in other areas of life is Native Americans. Discrimination has ranged from overt racially discriminatory practices to actions that impact cultural practices. For example, traditional Native American haircuts have been derided as unprofessional or inappropriate for the workplace. In other cases, negative stereotypes about Native Americans have been used to judge workers for injuries on the job or using sick time.

Around one-third of Native Americans say that they have experienced discrimination on the job whether in finding employment or in achieving equal pay and promotions. These statistics were found in a poll of Native Americans by National Public Radio and several university partners. In the poll, 33 percent reported discrimination related to pay or promotions while 31 percent reported discrimination in finding employment. These numbers were larger than those who reported discrimination from police, in health care institutions or when seeking housing.

Native American workers have also reported an array of discriminatory or racist experiences that go beyond pay and promotion, including being subject to hostile comments, being expected to serve as a cultural advisor or being used to test offensive or stereotypical images. They have also experienced retaliation for complaining or filing grievances about these experiences on the job. This situation is not lessened in areas with a majority-Native population; in fact, people in majority-Native areas are more likely to report pay discrimination and unavailability of local employment opportunities.

Workplace discrimination is illegal; employees cannot receive lower rates of pay, be denied promotions or be denied jobs due to their race, sex, religion, disabilities or other protected categories. Anyone who has experienced racial or other forms of discrimination or harassment on the job may speak to an employment lawyer. An employment lawyer might offer important advice and representation in filing complaints with appropriate state and federal agencies as well as directly pursuing those responsible.

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