National Origin Discrimination
National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
Federal and state law prohibit employment discrimination against individuals because of their national origin. A “national origin group,” or an “ethnic group,” is a group of people sharing a common language, culture, ancestry, race, and/or other social characteristics. Hispanic and Arab are ethnic or national origin groups and Hispanic and Arab employees are protected regardless of whether they are American-born or recent immigrants.
Do I Have a Case?
Employment discrimination against members of a national origin group also includes discrimination based on physical, linguistic, or cultural traits closely associated with a national origin group. For example, discriminating against someone based on their accent, the language they speak, their clothing, or the food they eat is also illegal.
Anti-immigrant discrimination has always been an issue in this country, but has recently become rampant. Stereotypes and assumptions about Hispanic, Arab, and South Asian individuals too often find their way into the workplace in the form of harassment or promotion and termination decisions.
The law also prohibits discrimination against non-citizens in the workplace. No form of work authorization is better than any other and only very few jobs can legitimately be limited to U.S. citizens. But that does not stop many employers from preferring citizens to non-citizen immigrants. This is illegal.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Immigration and Nationality Act are the federal laws prohibiting this form of discrimination. Title VII forbids employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of race discrimination, color discrimination, religious discrimination, gender discrimination, or national origin. The Immigration and Nationality Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on their citizenship or immigration status, or based on their national origin.
Filing a Claim
Employees Must File Claims Within 180 Days
Employees must bring these claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discriminatory act. Unfortunately, the EEOC is far more likely to harm your case than to help your cause. Therefore, we strongly recommend you reach out for a consult before going to the EEOC if you believe you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. No matter what, though, you must comply with the 180-day deadline. Therefore, you should file with the EEOC immediately if it has been five months since the adverse employment action occurred.
Employees of smaller companies can file claims with the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.
North Carolina’s Equal Employment Practices Act provides the same protection from discrimination. However, the law does not provide for the defendant to pay your attorneys’ fees the way that the federal law does. Nor does the state law prohibit retaliation.
South Carolina’s Human Affairs Law provides protection more similar to the federal law and provides employees a longer period of time to file their discrimination claim (up to 300 days).
How We Can Help
Herrmann & Murphy’s attorneys have brought successful actions against employers who allow harassment and discrimination based on national origin to infect their workplaces. If you believe you are the victim of national origin discrimination, you should reach out for a consultation today or 704.940.6399 or 864.516.7526.