What You Need to Know About National Origin Discrimination
EEOC issues new guidance on the topic
You may already be familiar with the basic concepts surrounding racial
discrimination. However, fewer people may be aware of something called
national origin discrimination.
While these two types of discrimination may appear to be similar on the
surface, there are some important differences to keep in mind.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency charged
with enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws, recently issued updated
guidance on national origin discrimination. Let’s take a look at
what’s included and how it might affect you.
What is national origin discrimination?
According to the EEOC, national origin discrimination doesn’t refer
to citizenship or immigration status. Rather, this type of discrimination
applies to instances in which an individual is treated unlawfully because
of his or her (or an ancestor’s) association with a certain place,
or because the person shares the physical, cultural, or language characteristics
of a specific ethnic group.
It’s important to note that national origin may be identified by
a country, a former country, or a region that is frequently associated
with an ethnic group.
A national origin group is a group of people who share a common language,
culture, ancestry, and/or other social characteristics.
According to the new EEOC guidance, federal law protects prohibits employers from:
- treating an individual less favorably because he or she is from a certain
place, or has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of
a particular national origin (ethnic) group
- using an employment policy or practice that disproportionately impacts
people on the basis of national origin and is not shown to be job related
and consistent with business necessity.
Individuals are also protected from national origin discrimination based
on the perception that they are associated with a certain group, even
if that perception is incorrect.
Multiple claims are common
According to the EEOC, many complaints of national origin discrimination
are paired with other discrimination complaints, such as race, color,
People who experience national origin discrimination may also experience
unlawful harassment. Harassment claims involve conduct that is severe
or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person
would find hostile, intimidating, or abusive.
The EEOC lists the following as frequent examples of national origin harassment
when directed toward someone because of his or her birthplace, ethnicity,
culture, language, dress, or accent:
- ethnic slurs
- workplace graffiti
- physical violence
- other offensive conduct
For more information, see the EEOC’s
Q&A on its updated guidelines.
Call us now
If you believe that you’ve been discriminated against or harassed
at work because of your national origin (or someone’s perception
of your national origin), it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney.
Call or email us today to discuss your unique situation.