Karen Vickers, Equal Employment Opportunity specialist
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT WAINWRIGHT -- Alaska (March 14, 2014) In any organization's Equal Employment Opportunity program, one of the laws followed is Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964. This federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin in regards to hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, job training or any other term, condition, or privilege of employment. Many people ask, "What's the difference between race and color discrimination" Well, let us examine the difference.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, in this context, defines race as a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or unchangeable characteristics, i.e. skin color, hair texture, or certain facial features. It defines color as skin pigmentation (complexion, shade, or tone) especially other than white characteristic of race. As you see, the definition of race contains "skin color"; but a person's skin color does not necessarily imply they are in a particular race. For instance, a person with a darker skin tone could possibly be in the Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander race. So, now that we know the definitions of race and color, let's see what Title VII says about discrimination based on race and color.

Title VII defines race discrimination as "discrimination on the basis of ancestry, physical, or cultural characteristics associated with a certain race, such as skin color, hair texture or styles, or certain facial features". It describes color discrimination as "discrimination based on skin pigmentation (lightness or darkness of the skin), complexion, shade, or tone". Title VII also adds, "Color discrimination can occur between persons of different races or ethnicities, or even between persons of the same race or ethnicity." Principally, a person should not be treated differently because of prejudice or bias based on race or color. Although it shouldn't happen, these prejudices or biases often occur in the work place, so let's explore how Title VII protects against employment discrimination.

Employment discrimination based on race and color can happen, intentionally or unintentionally; therefore, everyone, especially managers, should be cognizant of their actions. Managers and supervisors should not treat their employees differently by way of pay (or other benefit), work assignments, performance evaluations, training, discipline, or discharge disparity.

For example, a manager gives an employee a less than favorable performance evaluation because of a racial or color bias the manager has; but other employees in the same positions and exhibiting the same abilities are awarded very favorable performance evaluations.

Also, for those who participate in recruitment, hiring and advancement, requirements must be uniformly and consistently applied to persons of all races and colors. For example, a manager requiring a college degree from an Alaska Native for a position that ordinarily is not necessary for job performance is displaying racial discrimination. Therefore, managers should strive to provide equal employment opportunities for all workers of all races and colors.

As we've explored Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we have learned that there is a difference between race and color discrimination. Basically, race discrimination is treating people differently based on their ancestral or cultural characteristics.

Color discrimination is treating people differently based on their skin color, but can occur between persons of different and/or the same race. Title VII also described how it protects against race and color discrimination in employment. Everyone should be cognizant of their behaviors because bottom line -- no one should not be discriminated against based on race or skin color, no matter what race or color they may be.

Women of all races and colors should be honored this month. It's Women's History Month! The 2014 theme is Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment, and "honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women." One such woman, Susan Butcher, is celebrated each year on March 1, in Alaska. She displayed amazing fortitude, dedication, and daring as she won the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race (several times) and was the first (and only) person to dog sled to the top of Denali. As a great athlete, she has inspired many young girls and women everywhere. Butcher definitely demonstrated what the theme of Women's History Month aims to exhibit -- character, courage, and commitment.

Related Links:

Army EEO Modernization

U.S. Army Equal Opportunity Branch

Equal Opportunity Program, more than complaints! - video