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EEOC Issues Storing Statement About National Origin and Race Discrimination During COVID-19 Pandemic


EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon has issued a strong message on National Origin and Race Discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Dhillon states: “Crises like the COVID-19 pandemic can bring out the best and worst in people. We have seen many examples of people rising to the occasion, helping others in need, sometimes at great risk or sacrifice to themselves. Sadly, there have also been reports of mistreatment and harassment of Asian Americans and other people of Asian descent. In the workplace, these actions can result in unlawful discrimination on the basis of national origin or race.”

The Federal, New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws forbid discrimination based on national origin. In other words, it is illegal to treat job applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world. These same laws also forbid discrimination against applicants or employees based on their skin color, or racial or ethnic origin. This type of discrimination can include derogatory or demeaning remarks about a person’s place of birth, accent, ethnicity or skin color.

When considering both types of discrimination, race refers to a person’s physical characteristics, most commonly his/her skin color. National origin refers to where a person is from or where his/her ancestors are from. Both are illegal under our Federal, State and City anti-discrimination laws.

It is important to note that the harasser can be the person’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or even someone who is not an employee of the company, such as a vendor or customer.

Our human rights laws are as important as ever during this global health crisis. If you or someone you know is being targeted because of your race and national origin, the experienced, award-winning attorneys at Schwartz Perry & Heller want to help you.