Workplace discrimination is common among Native Americans

Native Americans in Texas will likely find the recent complaints of one Pawnee Nation member familiar. In an interview, the man described the overt discrimination he experienced on the job as a bartender. For starters, his manager disliked his Mohawk haircut, a traditional style for his people. Instead of arguing, the man chose to cut his hair.

He then experienced negative treatment when he needed to take time off to recover from a broken ankle. Upon returning to his job duties, he said that a manager blamed his accident on drinking "firewater." This time the man lodged a complaint with his employer and gave two weeks notice.

In his next job at a communications company, he felt compelled to criticize the stereotypical dress used in an advertising campaign that depicted indigenous people. Although management listened to his concerns and made some adjustments, he said that managers changed how they acted toward him.

According to a poll of Native American workers, this man's experiences are not unique. Approximately one-third of Native Americans reported discrimination when looking for work, applying for promotions or seeking pay equal to their colleagues. An even higher percentage were the target of racial slurs and comments.

Experiences like these can impact a person's emotional well-being and reduce their ability to earn a living. Someone being mistreated at work or denied employment because of race, sex, age, disability or religion could reach out to an attorney for guidance. After reviewing the evidence of workplace discrimination, an attorney might suggest filing a lawsuit that pursues compensation for lost pay and possibly punitive damages. When filing court papers, the attorney could organize documentation such as payroll records, employee evaluations, co-worker testimony and copies of relevant texts or emails between the client and the employer.

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