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Tennessee residents may believe that racism in the workplace is not as prevalent today as it was in years past, but a review of 28 studies into the issue conducted over the last quarter century suggests that black and Latino job applicants in the United States continue to face widespread discrimination. The studies reviewed by researchers from Harvard and Northwestern Universities and the Institute of Social Research in Norway included data on more than 55,000 job seekers who had applied for more than 26,000 positions.

According to the study, black job applicants face virtually the same obstacles as they did 25 years ago, and the data suggests that things have only improved slightly for Latino candidates. The researchers found that white job seekers are still called back 36 percent more often than black applicants and 24 percent more frequently than Latinos, and taking factors such as gender, education and the state of local labor markets into account did not noticeably change the results.

This kind of workplace discrimination does not only prevent minority candidates from being hired, but it also makes it more difficult for them to negotiate pay raises or take advantages of new opportunities. Prolonged exposure to unfair treatment at work can also demotivate employees, sap their enthusiasm and nurture hostility and resentment.

People sometimes feel that there is little they can do to combat employment discrimination. Attorneys with experience in this area could explain that federal legislation like the 1964 Civil Rights Act protect workers and applicants from discrimination based on race, gender, national origin or religion, and they could point out that the penalties for violating these laws or retaliating against workers who file complaints can be serious for employers. Attorneys may also urge employers to settle these matters discretely by reminding them of these possible sanctions during settlement negotiations.