Your national origin is the country in which you were born or where your ancestors lived. Commonly, it is called your nationality or ethnicity. National origin discrimination in the workplace is when an employee or job applicant is harassed or receives negative treatment based on the simple idea that he or she is from a different country or has a different ethnicity, culture or ancestry. An employer treating an employee differently because of his or her nationality, ethnicity, ancestry, or culture is illegal. For over 25 years, the Derek Smith Law Group in Philadelphia has helped people who have experienced discrimination based on their national origin receive the justice they so richly deserve.
Of all of the types of discrimination claims an employee can file against an employer, national origin discrimination encompasses the largest variety of issues under one umbrella. This is where claims for language issues, citizenship issues, immigration status issues, and issues with people associated with others in this protected class are included. National origin discrimination includes unfavorable actions or harassment against the following:
- People from a certain nation or country
- People of a certain ethnicity
- People with a foreign accent that does not affect the job function
- The perception you are of a certain national origin or ethnicity
- People with the last name that is usually associated with a certain nationality or ethnicity
- People that belong to an ethnic or cultural organization
- A person’s ancestry
- People married to or associated with a person of a certain national origin or ethnicity or perceived origin or ethnicity
- People that speak a foreign language or dialect
- People that belong to or participate in schools or religious organizations that are also associated with certain ethnic or cultural groups
- People that dress in ethnic clothing
- An ethnic or cultural cuisine that people eat
- People legally allowed to work in the US that are not citizens of the country
The law of national origin discrimination also applies to people even if they are refugees from countries or regions in the world that no longer exist.
National origin is a protected class under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Pennsylvania Human Relations ACT. This means that an employer cannot hire, fire, make adverse decisions against, or harass an employee simply because he or she is from another country, looks like he or she is from another country, is associated with a person that is from or looks like he or she is from another country, or insist that an employee speak only English if speaking another language does not impact the job being done.
The piece of national origin discrimination relating to citizenship requirements and status is protected by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). According to the IRCA, it is illegal for an employer to take any adverse employment decision or take any adverse employment action against a person based on his or her immigration or citizenship status. As long as the person is legally allowed to work in the United States, they must be considered for employment. Employers must accept any legal documentation that will establish the employee’s right to work in the US, regardless of the immigration or citizenship status which that documentation denotes.
Considering national origin discrimination is such a broad topic, there are many examples of this type of discrimination in the workplace. Here are a few examples of how national origin discrimination can rear its ugly head. Be aware that the employer and employee can be part of the same race, national origin, and color while the employer is still actively discriminating against the employee. Some examples of national origin discrimination include:
- Consistent making fun of or negatively commenting about an employee’s nationality, ethnicity, culture, or ancestry
- Firing a person or retaliating against a person because the person complained about national origin discrimination
- Insisting employees only speak English, even when it is not required for job functionality
- Refusal to hire a person based on citizenship status or national origin
- Refusal to promote a person because his or her foreign accent is too thick
- Creating policies intended to negatively impact people of specific national origin or ethnicity
- Termination of an employee due to national origin or citizenship status
- Denial of raises or promotions based on national origin
- Refusal to hire a person based on the national origin or citizenship status of a spouse or close acquaintance
- Clients refusing to work with an employee based on national origin and the employer doing nothing to combat this behavior
These are a few examples, and possibly the more common examples, of workplace national origin discrimination. However, there are many other ways in which such discriminatory behavior can present itself in the workplace. The Derek Smith Law Group can help you determine if you have been the victim of workplace national origin discrimination and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
If you are filing your claim for national origin discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you have 300 days from the date of the last incident to file the claim. The EEOC will then investigate the claim and issue a Right to Sue letter giving you permission to file your case in federal court. Once you receive that letter, you have 90 days to file your complaint in federal court.
If you are filing your claim for national origin discrimination with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), you have one full year to file the claim. Once you do so, the PHRC will investigate the claim and give you the permission o file the complaint within the state court.
When a person sues an employer for workplace national origin discrimination, several remedies can be sought. Many times, a court will award some, if not all of these damages to the employee should he or she win the case. Some remedies include:
- Reinstatement of employment
- Attorney Fees
- Retroactive Pay (such as back pay)
- Instatement of promotion and/or raise
- Compensatory damages based on lost wages, medical expenses, and other money lost due to the discriminatory action
- Punitive damages if you are not a government employee
Punitive damages are often where the larger settlements come into play. These damages are designed to punish the employer for discriminating against employees and prevent them from doing it again.
Once you have been approved to file a complaint in state or federal court, your employee workplace national origin discrimination case can take anywhere from a few months to 1 to 2 years to settle. If your employer is willing to settle the case and brings a fair offer to negotiations, then the case will likely settle quickly. However, if your employer is going to fight every piece of this process and refuse to budge, then the case will likely go to trial, which can take a year or longer to settle.
National origin discrimination is not quite as subtle as other forms of discrimination. Under the law, it is very clear that any type of unfair treatment based on issues such as ethnicity, perceived national origin, real national origin, accents, language barriers, and/or citizenship issues are illegal.
One this is certain. You do not have to prove that the employer or member of the employer agency was not part of the same national origin as you. National origin discrimination can occur between people who are of the same national origin or perceived national origin. Therefore, they cannot use the defense that they are also part of the protected class and therefore could not have committed discrimination.
It is important to be proactive. If you believe you are being discriminated against due to your national origin, language, ethnicity, or accent, it is best that you document everything. Keep records of events that occur that can be perceived as harassment or discrimination. Note who was involved in the event, the date and time it occurred, and who came to your defense. These notes can be very helpful in building your case if we file a claim and need to go to court.
We want to hear from you. What are your thoughts about national origin discrimination? Do you have any questions that we did not answer? Contact the Derek Smith Law Group in Philadelphia today at (215) 391-4790 for a free consultation. We do not charge any money until we win your case.
Different Types of Workplace Discrimination Cases We Handle:
- Race Discrimination
- Color Discrimination
- Religion Discrimination
- Age (over 40) Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Gender or Sex Discrimination
- Sexual Orientation Discrimination
- Genetic Information Discrimination
- Equal Pay/Compensation Discrimination
- Ethnic Discrimination
- LGBT Discrimination
- Hair Discrimination