The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released new guidance on enforcement actions against national origin discrimination because it can take multiple forms, and it is important for workers to recognize it when it happens so that they can assert their rights. The EEOC provided examples of discrimination based on national origin so that employers could understand what types of actions are prohibited and which the EEOC is likely to pursue. When national origin discrimination occurs, an employment attorney may assist his or her client with filing his or her charge with the EEOC and may file suit if the client is later given leave to do so by the agency.
Defining National Origin Discrimination
According to the EEOC, national origin discrimination is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It occurs when a worker or applicant is discriminated against because of his or her physical or cultural characteristics or because of where he or she or his or her ancestors originated from. An employer may also be engaging in prohibited discrimination if the employer takes negative job actions against a worker because of the employer’s perception that the worker has a certain national origin or ethnicity.
Forms National Origin Discrimination Might Take
In addition to overt discriminatory actions, employers may be guilty of national origin discrimination in less obvious ways. According to the EEOC, charges based on national origin discrimination make up 11 percent of all of the filed discrimination claims the agency receives each year.
An employer’s relenting to a customer’s expressed preference to not work with an employee based on the employee’s national origin or ethnicity is prohibited. Other examples include employers that forbid employees from speaking in foreign languages while they are on breaks. National origin discrimination may also occur when employers have policies in place that have the effect of disproportionately impacting members of certain national origins negatively. The prohibitions extend to all components of employment, including hiring, recruitment, bonuses, salaries, layoffs, terminations, benefits and promotions.
The Complaint Process
When a person believes that he or she has been the victim of national origin discrimination, he or she should first follow the internal complaint procedures at his or her job. If nothing is done or if the employer retaliates, he or she may then file a charge with the EEOC. An employment attorney may assist his or her client with gathering the evidence the client needs to support his or her charge.