National origin discrimination is the unfair treatment employees due to their ethnicity or country of origin. Workers might be singled out in this form of employment discrimination due to their appearance, dress, behavior, foreign accent, or other linguistic characteristics common to someone from a certain birthplace, ancestry, or culture.
National origin discrimination can also involve treating employees unfairly because they are friends, spouses, or in a relationship with a person from a specific ethnic group or certain national origin. It is most common for national origin discrimination to occur when the harasser and the employee are of different origin or ethnicity. This difference forms the basis for discriminating based on culture, linguistic characteristics, or ethnic background.
What is national origin discrimination?
It is against the law to harass an employee due to a person’s national origin. There are various forms of national origin discrimination. It includes harassing insults or remarks about an employee’s accent, ethnicity or national origin, but extends to adverse employment decisions during the processes of hiring, training, and decisions about salary, compensation, fringe benefits, time off, discipline, or termination. A single adverse employment decision can create an offensive work environment where it’s not an employee’s job performance that matters most.
According to the California labor law, national origin discrimination is illegal when it is so pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment for the worker. Simple teasing or other isolated incidents are not illegal, unless they are happening on a regular basis.
The discriminating party is not necessarily always the employee’s boss. They can also be a:
- Manager or supervisor
- Staff in another department
- Someone who is not an employee, such as a client, contractor, or vendor
The national origin of an employee should never be the reason for harassment at work. Whether a worker is from the US, Spain, Senegal, or belongs to a certain ethnic group, he or she is entitled to equal opportunity and treatment as any other.
An employment action based on a person’s ethnicity and nationality is considered as national origin discrimination. This form of discriminatory treatment breaches federal and California labor laws.
National origin discrimination can include harassment at work based on:
- Membership with an ethnic promotion or group
- Family names associated with a particular national origin group
- Marriage to or in a relationship with a person from a national origin group
- Attendance or participation in churches generally associated with a national origin group
Which federal laws cover national origin discrimination?
Federal law and California labor laws protect Los Angeles employees from national origin discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers any employment actions based on national origin including hiring, firing, layoffs, cut-offs and recruitment efforts. The Civil Rights Act protects employees from harassment at work based on their race, religion, color, and nationality, all of which can be elements of national origin discrimination.
At the state level, the California Legislature passed the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to state that every worker in California is entitled to the same employment rights as any other person, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or background. Therefore, under California labor law, a person should never be judged for work because of national origin.
These protections apply to every worker in the United States of America. Whether they were born in the USA or overseas, and regardless of their citizenship status. The California labor laws express the vigorous policy against national origin discrimination at work.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) protects employees from harassment at work due to immigration and citizenship status. The INA safeguards workers from document abuse discrimination, which occurs when an employer requests multiple documents and certifications to be able to determine whether he/she is fit for the job.
The federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) prohibits employers from treating those of disparate national origin unfairly during any stage or aspect of employment.
The IRCA prohibits employers from limiting employment to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, unless relevant laws or regulations require this type of exclusion. Employers must also accept lawful documentation that demonstrates the employee is eligible for employment. They are also prohibited from demanding eligibility documentation, based on national origin, beyond what is legally required during the employment eligibility process.
California labor law makes it clear that no applicant should ever be chosen based on birthplace, ancestry, or culture, but rather due to their abilities and qualifications, and the employer’s ability to verify employment eligibility. Employee qualifications of course vary, depending on the requirements of the job.
Different organizations may have their own workplace laws. Nonetheless, the California labor law protects all workers from national origin discrimination, irrelevant of the requirements at their workplace. Employers are not permitted to accept legal documentation that establishes the employment eligibility of a worker. It is also considered unlawful for an employer to demand any additional documentation beyond what is legally required.
Filing your complaint
Trying to determine how to file a national origin discrimination complaint may seem rather daunting. In California, a claim can be filed either with the state agency, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal administrative agency. Both agencies have a “work-sharing agreement” which enables them to cooperate to process these claims.
Filing a national origin discrimination case depends on the size of your workplace. If your organization has between 5 and 14 employees, you are requested to file a national original discrimination case with the DFEH. This is because the EEOC applies for organizations with 15 or more employees. If your workplace has more than 15 employees, you should file a national origin discrimination case with either of the above-mentioned agencies.
We represent employees.
If you have questions about whether you are the victim of harassment at work due to your ethnicity or background, the national origin discrimination attorneys at Wrongful Termination Law Group today are here to answer your concerns.
Our Los Angeles employment law firm has established an outstanding reputation for professionalism in national origin discrimination under federal and California labor laws. We take the vast majority of discrimination cases on a contingency basis. This means there are not any upfront costs or lawyer fees. We are only paid when we successfully obtain monetary recovery from the employer, either settle your case or prevailing in court.