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Company Must Pay $150K Settlement After Chinese Workers Claim National Origin Discrimination


Company Must Pay $150K Settlement After Chinese Workers Claim National Origin Discrimination

Staffers claim they made $3 less per hour than white employees

Imagine that you found out that most of your colleagues—including people who had less experience—were making more money than you.

After doing a little digging, you discover that other workers who share your same country of origin are also getting paid less.

That’s what a Chinese worker claims recently happened to him and some of his coworkers. The employer recently settled the case, to the tune of $150,000.

Let’s talk about what happened here, as well as your rights under the law to be free from national origin discrimination.

Threatened with termination

Ping Zhang was a highly trained auto technician at Winner Ford. During his five years of employment, he worked his way up from making $9 an hour to $12 an hour.

However, when a new employee started, Zhang was surprised to learn that the incoming staffer would be making $13 an hour. The new employee had no relevant experience, yet Zhang had come into the job with deep experience in a related field.

Zhang complained to management. After doing so, he claims that a supervisor threatened that he would face consequences if he sought legal advice.

Zhang complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which sued on behalf of him and other Chinese workers at the company.

During legal proceedings, it was revealed that non-Chinese workers were typically hired at $13 an hour for the same position that Zhang held. Meanwhile, Chinese workers generally did not earn $13 an hour until they had been on the job for more than five years.

Rather than defend against the allegations in court, the company decided to settle. It must pay $150,000 and submit to federal oversight.

What the law says

National origin discrimination is often confused with race discrimination, but the two are slightly different.

The EEOC defines national origin discrimination as when an individual is treated unlawfully because of:

  • his or her association with a certain place
  • his or her ancestors’ association with a certain place, or
  • shared physical, cultural, or language characteristics of a specific ethnic group.

The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a co-worker, or a client or customer. Harassment includes offensive or derogatory remarks about a person's national origin, accent or ethnicity.

Federal law also prohibits retaliation against individuals who complain about discrimination.

Contact us for a consultation now

If you believe that you’ve been harassed or discriminated against based on your national origin, you should speak with an attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

Contact us today to discuss your unique situation

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