Los Angeles National Origin Discrimination Lawyer
Take for example Isabela, a hardworking employee named Maria who was born in Mexico and moved to the United States several years ago. Despite her dedication and strong work ethic, Isabela’s coworkers often make offensive comments about her accent and background. They even question her legal status in the country. Isabela is understandably upset and her mental well-being has been affected by their behavior. Countless others are facing similar issues as Isabela. If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment because of your national origin, speak with a national origin discrimination lawyer at Theory Law APC to learn about your rights.
The Legal Framework: California and Federal Laws
National origin discrimination is prohibited by both federal and California state laws. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on national origin in the workplace. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees and covers various aspects of employment, including hiring, promotions, wages, and termination. Similarly, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) offers protections to workers by prohibiting discrimination based on national origin or citizenship. The INA covers employers with four or more employees for discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status, or national origin. Depending on the number of employees the employer has, a claim for national origin discrimination can be made through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER).
In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) offers even broader protections against national origin discrimination. Unlike federal laws, the FEHA covers employers with five or more employees. Under both Title VII and FEHA, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants based on their national origin. An employee or job applicant can bring a claim for national origin discrimination against an employer covered by the FEHA by filing a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD).
The laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of national origin also cover perceived national origin, including the individual’s actual or perceived place of birth or geographic origin, national origin group or ethnicity. If the employer was mistaken about an employee’s national origin, the employer may still have violated the laws against discrimination. Retaliating against an employee who files a complaint about national origin discrimination or harassment is also against the law.
Identifying National Origin Discrimination and Harassment
National origin harassment is a form of discrimination where offensive and unwelcome conduct based on an individual’s national origin creates a hostile work environment. This may include derogatory comments, slurs, offensive jokes, or other offensive behavior targeting a person’s national origin or accent.
Examples of National Origin Discrimination: Direct and Indirect Discrimination
- An employer refuses to hire a qualified candidate because they were born in another country or have an accent, even though they are legally authorized to work in the United States. This is direct discrimination
- A supervisor consistently gives better assignments and promotions to, or the company has rules that favor, employees of a particular national origin while overlooking equally or more qualified employees from different countries. This is indirect discrimination.
- Employer has a policy that provides increased commissions and retirement benefits that applies to a certain group of employees, but has a negative impact on employees of a certain national origin group.
- An employee is subjected to offensive jokes, ethnic slurs, offensive or derogatory comments, or symbols about their national origin or accent by coworkers, leading to a hostile work environment. While a single joke or insult may not constitute harassment, frequent or severe offenses can create a hostile or offensive work environment.
- An employer takes the following actions against an employee based on their national origin: reduction of pay, denies a promotion, demotion, denies benefits, or termination.
- As another example of direct discrimination, an employer who limits access to training, mentoring, or development opportunities of an employee based on the employee’s national origin or ethnicity.
Can an Employer Only Hire U.S. Citizens?
Language and Accent Discrimination
One of the more nefarious forms of national origin discrimination is language and accent discrimination. This occurs when an employer treats an employee or applicant unfavorably because of their accent or fluency in a particular language. For example, an employer who refuses to hire someone with a strong accent, even though their qualifications are otherwise impeccable. In a lot of cases, an employee being treated differently because of their linguistic features or accent may also face national origin harassment by way of offensive jokes, comments, and mocking.
However, employers may require employees to speak English fluently or have a specific level of proficiency in another language if it’s necessary for the performance of the job and is not discriminatory. Such requirements must be based on legitimate business needs and not simply be a pretext for discrimination.
Are English-Only Policies Legal?
What To Do If You Experience National Origin Discrimination
National origin discrimination and harassment continues to impact numerous people in the workplace, causing unnecessary stress and preventing career advancement. No one should be treated differently because of their ethnicity, place of birth, accent, or national origin. Understanding the legal protections in place, recognizing the signs of discrimination, and taking action against it are critical steps toward creating a more inclusive and equitable work environment.
An employee who believes they have experienced national origin discrimination or harassment has many options to assert and protect their rights. Some things the employee can do is to document any instances of discriminatory behavior, report the issue to a supervisor, human resources department, or a designated company representative.
If you believe you have been a victim of national origin discrimination or harassment, don’t hesitate to seek help from a knowledgeable Los Angeles Discrimination Lawyer at Theory Law APC. They can guide you through the process and help you understand your rights and options under both California and federal laws.
How Can Theory Law Help You?
If you need help regarding a legal matter and would like to discuss it with an attorney, please call (310) 500-0206 or complete and submit the e-mail form below, and the attorney will contact you.