Some employers are more frequently accused of committing unlawful discrimination. Since union membership can encompass multiple businesses and since union membership does not have to include every labor employee in a department, could members of minority groups form a union that only admitted members of their own race and forced employers to collectively bargain when racism was being alleged?

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    members of minority groups form a union that only admitted members of their own race is pure racism and a very loudly stated one at that. How would one justify using that agains alleged racism?
    – Pavel
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 6:32
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    Your whole question is based on a faulty premise. Racism isn't subject to bargaining. The only correct amount of racism is none at all. Nobody ever says, "Well, boss, I'm happy for you to be a little bit racist against me in exchange for a pay rise and some flexibility in my working hours." Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 9:23
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    Is there a purpose for the union all being a single race, or it something arbitrary to make the question interesting? Surely, the more people collective bargaining the better.
    – bobsburner
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 11:28
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    Your question reduces to: Can I combat unlawful discrimination by committing unlawful discrimination? Can you formulate an answer to that?
    – Based
    Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 11:33
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    @DavidRicherby: they don't say it maybe, but anyone who chooses an otherwise-good job for an employer with a mediocre record on racism, over a more-lowly job with an employer whose record is, for the sake of this example, average, has in fact done that. Presumably, though, what the questioner has in mind is that this hypothetical union would act the way that real unions can and should act: if the employer is doing something they consider racist, it negotiates towards the employer stopping it, under threat of the usual things unions threaten (ultimately strikes or legal action). Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 16:01

2 Answers 2


This is explicitly prohibited under 42 USC 2000e-2(c)

(c)It shall be an unlawful employment practice for a labor organization— (1) to exclude or to expel from its membership, or otherwise to discriminate against, any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; (2) to limit, segregate, or classify its membership or applicants for membership, or to classify or fail or refuse to refer for employment any individual, in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities, or would limit such employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee or as an applicant for employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (3) to cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an individual in violation of this section.


It seems very unlikely that this scenario is legal. A press release from the EEOC in Feb. 2019

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has resolved its race discrimination lawsuit against the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters, Local 122, IAFF. The EEOC's lawsuit against the union was a companion case to the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against the City of Jacksonville (Case No.3-12-cv-451-J-32MCR), which alleged that the city's promotional practices for various positions in the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD) violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964's prohibition against race discrimination.

  • Organizations like the N.A.A.C.P. are allowed to discriminate because they are representing an underserved class. Isn't the case you're citing about the white firefighters refusing to allow black firefighters to join their union? Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 21:58
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    N.A.C.C.P. is not a union and from day one they had white members. Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 22:48
  • They are not a union, this is correct. The other answer provided cites the specific regulation that prohibits unions, in specific, from having race-based admissions standards. As far as the N.A.A.C.P., they do exclude whites from membership above a certain tier of authority. For more information, see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Dolezal Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 22:50
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    How does that say anything about the formal qualifications for leadership in the N.A.A.P. ? Commented Nov 4, 2019 at 22:55
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    From NAACP web site -The NAACP’s founding members included white progressives Mary White Ovington, Henry Moskowitz, William English Walling and Oswald Garrison Villard, along with such African Americans as W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida Wells-Barnett, Archibald Grimke and Mary Church Terrell. Commented Nov 5, 2019 at 0:37

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