There are many forms of racial discrimination that can occur at your workplace. If your employer uses your actual or perceived race, color or ethnicity against you when making decisions about job duties, promotions, hiring or firing, that is an illegal form of racial discrimination. 

However, not all forms of racial discrimination involve adverse employment actions, nor do they necessary have to come from those in a management position. Because it contributes to the creation of a hostile work environment, verbal abuse can be a form of discrimination. It is against the law even if it comes from co-workers rather than employers or supervisors. 

What constitutes verbal abuse? 

According to Chron.com, verbal abuse does not need to be overt or target you directly. It can take the form of derogatory comments about people of your minority group in general. However, to contribute to the formation of a hostile work environment, there does have to be a repeated pattern of verbal abuse. An isolated incident does not qualify. 

Who is liable for verbal abuse? 

If you experience verbal abuse in your workplace, you can file a complaint against the company that employs you. This is true even if the abuse came from a fellow employee without the company’s direction or approval. 

What can you do about verbal abuse? 

Federal law extends protections against discrimination on the basis of race. Therefore, if you experience verbal abuse on the basis of your protected class, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC may decide to file a lawsuit on your behalf after investigating your claim. Even if the EEOC declines to take up your complaint, it is illegal for your employer to fire or otherwise retaliate against you for filing it.