The law prohibits any form of discrimination against an individual on the basis of the country where that person was born or the country from which his or her ancestors came from. This includes treating an individual differently solely because of that person’s birthplace, his/her ancestors, his/her physical or cultural dress attire, or linguistic characteristics.
When someone experiences discrimination based on their country of origin, the thickness of their accent, difficulty speaking English, or being required to speak English at all times while on the job, this is generally defined as national origin discrimination.
This can occur both during a job interview process and while on the job. It can also happen on the job in the form of harassment. Therefore, an employer cannot discriminate against a current or potential employee because of their national origin or ethnic characteristics.
It is against the law for an employee to be treated differently because of their association with a particular national origin or ethnicity. It is unlawful to treat someone differently at work because of their culture as well as physical traits or cultural dress attire. For example, an employer is prohibited from implementing a policy prohibiting traditional African or Indian attire at work.
Overall, employees’ association with a particular ethnic group is not a valid reason to treat them differently or terminate his/her employment.
An employer can only make fluency in English a requirement of employment if it is necessary in performing the duties of the job. However, a rule requiring workers to only speak English may be lawful if it is necessary for safety reasons as well as the efficient operation of the employer’s business. Otherwise, an employer’s policy requiring its employees to speak English at all times while on the job constitutes national origin discrimination. This is because such policies deny non-English speakers the privilege of conversing on the job by limiting it to a language they cannot speak.
An employer may only terminate or demote an employee based on that employee’s accent if it materially interferes with his or her job performance. For example, an engineering company cannot deny prospective employees a job or promotion because they have a heavy accent if their accent has little to do with the engineering job duties. An employer is required to provide a legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason should they elect not to hire someone because of their accent or manner of speaking.
It is against the law to harass an individual in the workplace because of their national origin. This type of harassment can involve cultural jokes, derogatory slurs, offensive remarks about an individual’s ethnicity or home country, or accent. An employer may not permit offensive and derogatory comments to negatively influence employment decisions.
There are certain circumstances when employers are permitted to choose an employee of a specific national origin over another. This action is only legal when it is established as a bona fide occupational qualification. For example, if a movie is being made specifically about Ukrainians, it would be a bona fide occupational qualification to hire individuals to be featured in the movie who can speak the Ukrainian language and are ethnic Ukrainians. An employer must prove the job had special qualification needs that only a person of a specific origin can fulfill.
During any job interview, an employer should not ask about the citizenship status of a potential employee. Instead, employers may require proof that the potential employee has authority to legally work in the United States. Unlike race, sex, national origin, etc., citizenship is not protected under certain circumstances, and thus, it is not unlawful to discriminate on the basis of an applicant’s or employee’s citizenship
An employment discrimination attorney will understand and know how to file a claim within the legal statutory time limits. It is imperative that you contact an attorney to avoid missing any statutory timelines and to preserve as much evidence as possible in support of your case.
You may be entitled to certain remedies and damages including back pay, front pay, lost pay, attorney fees, payment for lost benefits, punitive damages, and damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress. A skilled attorney can also obtain injunctive relief to prevent employers from permitting any future behaviors that discriminate against an employee.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of national origin discrimination, contact our firm as soon as possible for a free consultation with a highly experienced national origin discrimination attorney. Our legal team will fight aggressively to help you get the compensation and justice you deserve. The evaluation is free and if we don’t win, you don’t pay. Call our office anytime at 1-800-247-9235.
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