National Origin Discrimination
The Prevalence of National-Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
The United States is a nation built by immigrants. Since its inception, our nation has enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity thanks in large part to the hard work of foreign-born laborers. Unfortunately, employment discrimination on the basis of national origin remains far too common in the workplace. Between 1997 and 2018, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received more than 198,000 complaints alleging employment discrimination on the basis of national origin. During the same period, complainants alleging national-origin discrimination received monetary benefits totaling roughly $590 million through the EEOC’s administrative process.
The Law Prohibits Employment Discrimination Based on National Origin
Both federal and state law prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of national origin. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of national origin. At the state level, the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA) provides employees in Texas with an additional layer of protection from such discrimination. All three of these laws prohibit intentional discrimination on the basis of national origin (known as “disparate treatment”). Additionally, both Title VII and the TCHRA prohibit employment practices that are not intended to discriminate, but in fact have a disproportionately adverse effect on members of a particular race (known as “disparate impact”).
National-origin discrimination occurs when an employer treats a job applicant or employee unfavorably because of their or their ancestors’ “place of origin” or “ethnic group.” “Place of origin” refers to the country (e.g., Mexico, China, India, etc.) or geographic region (e.g., the Middle East) from which an individual or their ancestors are from. “Ethnic group” refers to a group of people who share a common language, culture, ancestry, race, or other social characteristics (e.g., Hispanics, Arabs, African, Roma, etc.).
The following are just a few examples of discrimination on the basis of an individual’s nation origin:
- an employer’s refusal to hire a job applicant because he is Hispanic;
- an employer’s refusal to hire a job applicant because he is not Hispanic;
- an employer’s refusal to promote a well-qualified employee because they have an African-sounding accent or wear traditional African style of dress;
- a supervisor’s use of ethnic slurs to describe the Arab employees under his supervision; and
- an employer’s adoption of an “English-only policy.”
Employment Discrimination Claims Based on National Origin
You may have an employment-discrimination claim on the basis of national origin if you have experienced an adverse employment action or decision because of your or your ancestors’ ethnicity or place of origin. This includes an employer’s actions and decisions related to:
- work assignments,
- employee discipline,
- training and instruction,
- recruitment, and
- any other term or condition of employment.
This list is by no means comprehensive. There are a wide variety of actions and decisions that may qualify as an adverse employment action or decision. If you’re unsure whether you have experienced an adverse employment action on the basis of your national origin, contact the Wagoner Law Firm today for a free case evaluation.
Employment Discrimination Based on Citizenship
Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on their citizenship status. This law prohibits employers from adopting a “U.S. citizens only” employment policy except in special situations where the law requires (e.g., government contractors). Furthermore, employers cannot refuse to accept lawful documentation that displays the applicant’s eligibility to work in the United States. The law strictly forbids any retaliatory actions against a person because they have chosen to assert their rights under the IRCA.
When to Speak to an Employment Lawyer
If you believe that you have been discriminated against on the basis of your national origin, it’s imperative that you take action immediately. Keep detailed notes and records of the actions taken by your employer, the individuals involved, dates, times, etc. Keeping detailed notes, copies of emails, and records of the events that transpire at work can prove to be very helpful down the road during an investigation of your claim. Because of the complicated administrative process, short filing deadlines, and complex web of employment laws that might apply to your case, victims of employment discrimination on the basis of national origin should contact the Wagoner Law Firm without delay for a free case evaluation.