Discriminating against a worker based on race is illegal, but that does not stop some employers in Massachusetts from doing it anyway. The national wage gap for black Americans is currently higher than it has been in decades, and analysts say that it is not because of class or education. Instead, it all comes down to race and workplace discrimination.
Black men and women are already at a distinct disadvantage from the very beginning steps of employment. Even an applicant’s name can determine whether that person will be taken seriously and ultimately granted an interview or employment. However, the discrimination does not stop there, as the current wage gap between black and white workers is at 26.7 percent, a significant increase from the 18.1 percent gap in 1979.
While the wage gap tends to start early on, there does not appear to be a point at which it slows down or decreases. Black men with 10 years or less of work experience currently have an 18.7 percent wage gap when compared with their white peers, whereas black men who have 11 to 20 years of experience under their belt have a 23.5 percent gap. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree also had little affect on the gap, and researchers point out that this supports the idea that this type of discrimination continues over time.
Lawmakers in Massachusetts attempted to address the growing wage gap when they recently passed a bill that would make it illegal for a potential employer to inquire about previous salaries. While this can potentially help lower the wage gap, it does not address the root of this type of workplace discrimination. Many employers continue to use these types of discriminatory practices with their employees until a victim successfully navigates a civil claim against them.
Source: CNN Money, “Wage gap between blacks and whites is worst in nearly 40 years“, Tanzina Vega, Sept. 20, 2016