Color discrimination occurs when individuals are treated differently than others who are similarly situated because of the color of their skin. This is a separately identifiable type of discrimination which can also occur in conjunction with race discrimination. Color discrimination can also occur in the absence of race discrimination when members of the same race are treated differently because of their skin color.
In Felix V. Manquez, 24EPD 279 (D.C.D.C. 1980), the court held that color discrimination is actionable under Title VII. The Court origins stated that in view of the mixture of race and ancestral origins in Puerto Rico, where the defendant employee was located, color was the most practical claim to present.
Color discrimination also exists when all brown skinned persons are treated differently than persons of other color regardless of the race of the brown -skinned person. Example: The employer does not hire anyone darker than cafe au lait (coffee with cream), but does hire light-skinned and/or White persons of all races.
Harassment on the basis of one's color violates Title VII. Ethnic slurs, racial jokes, offensive and derogatory comments, or other verbal or physical conduct based on an individual's color constitutes unlawful harassment if the conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment, or interferes with the individuals work performance.