In September 2013, a Yemeni man filed a lawsuit against Walgreen Co., alleging discrimination based on his national origin. According to court documents, the man said he was continuously harassed and humiliated while working as a manger. In one instance, the man’s supervisor allegedly told him to go work at 7-11 “with your kind of people.” The man was fired in May 2013, which the company claimed was due to poor performance.
Recently, a district court judge found validity in the man’s claims and denied Walgreen’s attempt to evade the lawsuit. As any employment lawyer in Illinois knows, no one should be subject to discrimination based on national origin. Employees in Illinois and across the country should be able to identify illegal behaviors.
Defining national origin
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, national origin claims constituted 10.8 percent of all discrimination charges filed in fiscal year 2014. The laws that are in place prohibit employers from discriminating against someone based on national origin, which can include a person’s ancestry, language, culture or birthplace.
Further, as the U.S. Department of Justice points out, people cannot be denied an equal opportunity because their name or an accent they have is associated with a national origin. It is also illegal to harass people because they are married to or associate with people of certain national origins. It is important to note that it is prohibited to discriminate against people simply because it appears that they are of a certain national origin, even if they are not.
What constitutes discrimination?
If companies treat someone unfavorably based on national origin, among other factors, they are guilty of breaking the law. As an employment lawyer in Illinois would know, discrimination can occur in the following areas:
- Hiring, firing and layoffs
- Pay and fringe benefits
- Job assignments
A court can view many different factors as discrimination, including harassment in the form of offensive remarks. Lawsuits stem from situations in which harassment occurs frequently enough to create a hostile work environment or leads to an adverse decision regarding employment.
Someone who wishes to file a discrimination lawsuit should be aware of the employer’s policies. For example, a company can require employees to speak in only English while on the job if it is necessary to ensure the safety of the business. Further, the only time a business can make a decision regarding employment based on someone’s accent is if the accent would seriously interfere with the person’s ability to do the job.
Anyone with questions regarding this matter should consult with an employment lawyer in Illinois.