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Being Black in Tech: Coinbase Employees Speak Out Against Racial Discrimination

December 28th, 2020 Christopher Davis

Last month, Alysa Butler, a Coinbase employee, informed the New York Times about racial discrimination and exclusivity in the workplace. Butler was one of 15 black employees at the company who complained to the human resources department about ongoing issues around racism before leaving the company last year. Coinbase, a prominent cryptocurrency start-up in the United States, is not the first tech company that has had racial diversity problems. The tech industry has a reputation for placing a glass ceiling on minority and female employees from receiving equal treatment and opportunities to move up the corporate ladder. Current and former black employees at Facebook also voiced their concerns about the lack of representation and racial bias that is present in the tech industry. Butler added to this statement, saying “we all know there’s a diversity problem” but that her experience at Coinbase was far different. 

The Lack of Black Representation in the Tech Industry 

The article mentions the ongoing issue with black employees not getting hired in the industry, let alone holding high positions. While companies like Facebook and many others have publicly shared their efforts to build an inclusive and diverse work environment, minimal progress has been made, especially at Coinbase. Data has shown that only three percent of the 600 employees at the company are black. Other black employees who spoke out about racial issues at the company along with Butler shared specific instances where they felt racially targeted. For example, one mentioned that her supervisor made racially indicative comments in front of other employees about her “dealing drugs and carrying a gun.”

Coinbase’s Response to Allegations and Federal Laws on Racial Discrimination  

The chief executive of the company along with a spokesperson responded to the complaints defending Coinbase’s efforts to embrace diversity and stand strong against racial and other forms of discrimination. Their response also added that Coinbase keeps a record of and investigates all reports of racial discrimination and other complaints. The company’s internal racial tensions escalated in the wake of George Floyd and Brionna Taylor’s deaths as several black employees in the tech industry demonstrated their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Following the events, even more, black employees from Coinbase have opened up about their difficult experiences with racial bias in the workplace. Despite these ongoing issues with racial inequality, there are federal and state laws that protect employees from discrimination.  For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for employees to be discriminated against on the basis of “race/color, religion, sex, and national origin.” 

Seek Legal Assistance Today 

If you have experienced racial discrimination in the workplace, seek legal assistance from the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.