National Origin Discrimination
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National origin discrimination involves treating applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country, because of their ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background even if they are not. National origin discrimination can also involve people who are married to a person of a certain national origin. Note that this kind of discrimination can still occur in situations where the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same national origin.
If you feel you have experienced discriminatory behavior or harassment due to your national origin, you have the right to take legal action against the perpetrator, whether they be your employer or coworker. The experienced attorneys at Riggan Law Firm, LLC can effectively assess your case and provide you with professional guidance as you plan your next steps in the legal process.
Examples of Discriminatory Behavior
The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including:
- job assignments,
- fringe benefits,
- any other term or condition of employment.
Discrimination and hostile behavior also include harassment, such as offensive or derogatory remarks about a person's national origin, accent, or ethnicity. Harassment is considered illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment for the employee or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as the employee being fired or demoted.
Your National Origin Rights as an Employee
By law, it is illegal for an employer to use an employment policy or practice that applies to everyone if it has a negative impact on people of a certain national origin and is not job-related or necessary to the operation of the business.
For instance, an employer can only require an employee to speak fluent English if fluency in English is necessary to perform the job effectively. The "English-only rule" is only allowed if speaking only English is needed to ensure the safe or efficient operation of the employer's business and is put in place for nondiscriminatory reasons. Similarly, an employer may not base an employment decision on your foreign accent, unless the accent seriously interferes with your job performance.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) establishes that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate with respect to hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee, based on an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. The law also states that employers also may not refuse to accept lawful documentation that establishes the employment eligibility of an employee, or demand additional documentation beyond what is legally required when verifying employment eligibility based on the employee's national origin or citizenship status. It is the employee's choice which of the acceptable documents to show to verify employment eligibility.
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An employer may not retaliate against you for opposing national origin discrimination or for filing a charge of national origin discrimination with a state or federal agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An employer also may not retaliate against your for testifying in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under federal or state national origin discrimination laws.
As is the case with most employment law claims, you have a limited time within which to take legal action based on a discriminatory claim. It will be in your best interests to seek professional legal counsel in your employment case, as a good lawyer can better assess the facts of your case and strategize your plan of action.
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