EEOC Defines Race and Color Related to Discrimination Law

September 26, 2006 ( - While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based on race and color, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) only this year defined what those terms mean with regards to the Act.

Section 15 of the EEOC’s new compliance manual defines “race” as encompassing:

  • Ancestry: The EEOC notes that this differs from national origin, giving the example that a Chinese American may be discriminated against due to his or her Asian ancestry and not the country in which he or she was born.
  • Physical characteristics associated with race, such as a person’s color, hair, facial features, height and weight.
  • Race-linked Illness: The EEOC gives as an example that sickle cell anemia is predominant among persons of African descent.
  • Cultural characteristics related to race or ethnicity, such as a person’s name, cultural dress and grooming practices, or accent or manner of speech.
  • Association with someone of a particular race, such as marriage, parenting, or friendships or other associations.
  • Perception that an individual is a member of a particular racial group, regardless of how the individual identifies himself.
  • A subgroup of persons in a racial group with certain attributes in addition to their race: The EEOC gives the example of singling out black women with young children versus other black women.
  • “Reverse” Race Discrimination: The EEOC points out that Title VII prohibits discrimination against all races, including Caucasians, and does not require a higher standard of proof for white people.

In Section 15 of its compliance manual, the EEOC defines “color” as pigmentation, complexion, shade or tone of a person’s skin, and points out that discrimination based on color could occur between persons of different races or ethnicities or of the same race or ethnicity.

The section addresses related protected bases for discrimination and gives examples of discrimination scenarios.

The section is here .