National origin discrimination occurs when an employer treats employees or applicants unfavorably because of their ancestry, ethnicity, or the country or region from where they come. Some employees and applicants become the target of National origin discrimination simply because they have a particular accent or because someone else makes assumptions about their ethnic background. National origin discrimination in the workplace is illegal. Victims of workplace discrimination may be entitled to compensation and should discuss their case with an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney.
Examples of National origin discrimination include:
- Making hiring, firing and/or promotion decisions based on national origin
- Engaging in or allowing offensive conduct based on national origin, such as racial slurs, which contributes to a hostile work environment
- Making employment decisions based on a person’s accent, unless the accent prevents that person from performing essential job duties
- Requiring an applicant or employee to be fluent in English, unless fluency is necessary to effectively perform the requirements of the position
- Adopting English-only rules which are not necessary for the safety or efficiency of business operations
Companies that engage in National origin discrimination should be held accountable for their illegal conduct. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently announced that PBM Graphics Inc., a printing company in North Carolina, will pay $334,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit alleging it refused “to place and/or assign non-Hispanic workers to its ‘core group’ of regular temporary workers.” A few days after that announcement, the EEOC reported that Hamilton Growers Inc., an agricultural farm in Georgia, will pay $500,000 to settle allegations it fired “virtually all American workers while retaining workers from Mexico during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 growing seasons.”
In California, Fremont Toyota recently agreed to pay $400,000 and to implement a management training program to settle an EEOC lawsuit alleging the car dealership’s general manager called four Afghan-American salesmen “terrorists” and threatened them with violence during a staff meeting. After reporting the incident, the salesmen were allegedly retaliated against, being subjected to further harassment and increased job scrutiny, and an Afghan-American manager was fired after speaking up for the salesmen.
If you are being harassed at work because of your national origin or another legally protected characteristic, you should report the problem to your employer using the appropriate channels. Employers have a duty to properly investigate workplace harassment complaints and to take appropriate steps to correct the issue and prevent future harassment.