Are Catalans Protected from Discrimination?

What is going on with Barcelona and Catalonia these days? It is in the news, but what are all of the protests about? Well, Catalonia is a region in northeastern Spain that includes the magical regional capital city of Barcelona.

Catalonia is different from the rest of Spain because of its distinct history, language (the national language, Catalan), and culture. Before the Spanish Civil War it enjoyed broad autonomy but that was repressed under decades of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship from 1939-1975. When the dictator died, Catalan nationalism was revived and eventually the north-eastern region was granted autonomy again, under the 1978 constitution.

Today, Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest, most productive, and most heavily taxed regions. Catalonia has a population of 7.5 million people, and many of these Catalans are calling for independence from Spain. The region even voted on October 1st, where allegedly 90% backed independence.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is due to announce his plans for the future of Catalonia. A big part of these plans is for Puigdemont to declare independence, as he has promised on several occasions despite fierce opposition. Tensions are extremely high as the mayor of Barcelona and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urge Puigdemont to “de-escalate” the protesters.

What is interesting, while Spain and the rest of the European Union fail to recognize Catalonia as an independent nation, Catalans are a protected class of people under discrimination law. In the workplace, Catalans are protected under national origin discrimination.

National origin discrimination is also known as citizenship discrimination or migration status discrimination. National origin discrimination is a form of ethnic discrimination that involves treating applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world—like Catalonia—because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background. National origin discrimination may even apply even if they are not from the particular country the discriminating employee thinks they are from. Additionally, national origin discrimination may also involve treating people unfavorably because they are married to or associated with a person of a certain national origin, or even occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same national origin.

Such discrimination violates federal, New York State, and New York City laws. This means that it is illegal for employers to base decisions in related to employment and employees on citizenship.

Perhaps you are familiar with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is a federal law that protects employees from discrimination in the workplace because of their sex, race, color, and religion. In addition to such classes, Title VII also includes the national origin. Moreover, other federal protections may also apply. For instance, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).

Additionally, in the state of New York, it is unlawful to discriminate against an applicant or employee due to citizenship status and national origin. The New York City Human Rights Law is a New York City statute that prohibits employment discrimination based on citizenship status, alienage, and national origin. New York State Human Rights Law is the New York State statute that provides substantially similar protections for New Yorkers who live outside of the NYC area.

The New York City discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience litigating claims of national origin discrimination. Working closely with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys, the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC has recovered hundreds of thousands for our clients who were the victims of discrimination. If you feel you have been discriminated against because of your national origin, or any other basis please give our experienced attorneys a call at (800) 807-2209 for your free consultation.