In a nation where our heritage is supposed to be celebrated and cherished, many Americans face national origin discrimination in the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines national origin discrimination as, “treating people (applicants or employees) unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not).” National origin discrimination is not just the unfair treatment of others based on their national origins, it can also involve the unfavorable treatment of a person because of who they are married to or associated with.

At Bantle & Levy LLP, we will navigate the terms of your national origin discrimination claim to determine which federal, state, or local laws best protect your rights.

Laws Protecting Against National Origin Discrimination

Federal, New York State, and New York City laws make it illegal to discriminate against someone because of their national origin. This includes unfavorable treatment because of a person’s birthplace, ancestry, culture, or language.

In many cases, this includes someone being denied opportunities because of the country their family has originated from, or because they have a name or accent associated with a specific culture.

However, the following laws work to protect against such wrongful treatment:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of national origin and forbids discrimination based upon an individual’s birthplace, ancestry, culture, or linguistic characteristics common to a specific group or accent.
  • The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), amended by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA): Federal law covering almost all immigration matters including employment discrimination based on immigration or citizenship status. The law prohibits document abuse discrimination, which occurs when employers request more or different documents than are required to verify employment eligibility and identity, reject documents, or specify certain documents over others.
  • New York State Human Rights Law: It is unlawful under the NYSHRL for an employer to discriminate in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of an individual’s age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, familial status, marital status, or being a victim of domestic violence. It is also unlawful to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or discharge an individual from employment because of any of these characteristics.
  • The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL): Prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived “alienage and citizenship status,” and “national origin,” among other categories, by most employers, housing providers, and providers of public accommodations.

Examples of National Origin Discrimination In New York City

While it is unlikely an employer, coworker, or supervisor is going to make a direct comment about your national origin to create an adverse employment action, it does happen. However, more commonly, indirect evidence of discrimination is likely to occur.

Common examples of national origin discrimination in the workplace include:

  • Employers refusing to interview people with certain ethnic-sounding surnames on their applications or resumes.
  • Not allowing employees with accents to work with customers.
  • Paying employees of a certain national origin less than others.
  • Requiring non-Caucasian employees to submit work authorization papers.
  • Expressing that an employee of a certain ethnic or racial background does “not fit” the company culture.
  • Creating a hostile work environment because of an employee’s national origin.
  • Discrimination against an employee for their relationship with, association with, or participation in grounds used by a specific national origin.

In addition, some employers create English-only rules for internal communications. However, these policies are only valid if they promote safe and necessary business operations.

English-only rules are only legitimate if they are enacted for nondiscriminatory reasons and if they are used to promote the safe and necessary operations of the employer’s business.

Facing National Origin Discrimination? Call Bantle & Levy LLP

If you have been treated unfairly because of your actual or perceived national origin, know that you have options. At Bantle & Levy LLP, our attorneys work diligently to protect your employee and civil rights.

Contact us today to learn more.

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