People from other nations are welcome to work legally in the United States. Nevertheless, some people face job discrimination or harassment based on their national origin or ethnic group. This is illegal.
What does national origin discrimination look like?
There are many examples:
- Ethnic slurs or jokes
- Discrimination based on your accent
- Requiring English to be the only language spoken at work (in many cases)
- Singling out some members of an ethnic group but not others
- Requiring more fluency in English than is necessary for the job
- Discrimination based on a mistaken belief that you are of a particular ethnicity
- Prohibiting specific kinds of ethnic dress or traditional attire when others are allowed
- Discrimination because you have relatives or a spouse of a particular ethnicity or national origin
- Discrimination based on a combination of national origin and other prohibited characteristics
What is prohibited?
Employers cannot discriminate based on national origin. This applies to all job-related decisions. They are also not allowed to tolerate harassment by co-workers, supervisors, clients or others in the workplace.
For example, suppose a vendor representative made ethnic jokes about an employee. The employer must take reasonable steps to stop the jokes.
The law does not prohibit employers from asking about your national origin. However, this information cannot be used to discriminate in:
- Job assignments
- Any other aspect of the job
What if I do not have proper work authorization?
The law prohibiting national origin discrimination applies to all job applicants and employees. If the reason for a negative decision was your national origin, as opposed to your work authorization, you could have a valid claim.
Can my employer retaliate if I complain about national origin discrimination?
Not legally, although it does happen. Sometimes, employers punish people, harass them or otherwise treat them differently after they report national origin discrimination. This is prohibited even if it turns out you were mistaken about the discrimination.
If you have experienced something that felt like national origin discrimination at your workplace, talk to an employment law attorney at Leigh Law Group. We can help you determine if you have a valid claim and help you proceed while minimizing the risk of retaliation.