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What Is National Origin Under Title VII?


It’s illegal to discriminate against employees based on their membership in a protected class. One of the various protected classes is national origin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against or harass an employee based on their national origin and characteristics associated with it. New York City is known for being home to people from all around the world, yet many employees in NYC may still experience national origin discrimination.

This can refer to many different characteristics. Learn more about what characteristics are considered under Title VII to better understand your employee rights.

What Characteristics Are Included?

National origin refers to the country a person was born in or where their ancestors came from. However, there are many more characteristics associated with this. 

Some characteristics can include:

  • Ethnicity
  • Physical traits
  • Cultural traits
  • Linguistic traits

This type of discrimination can take many forms. For example, some may be discriminated against for wearing clothing associated with a certain country or region. Others may face discrimination due to them speaking a different language. While these are very different, they may both be considered forms of national origin discrimination. 

In some cases, policies like those that prohibit certain types of clothing or require employees to only speak English are necessary for conducting business. However, there are also occasions when these policies are discriminatory, so it’s essential that you speak with an employment discrimination lawyer who can advise you. 

You may also be experiencing more than one type of discrimination if you’re being discriminated against based on characteristics associated with your national origin. For example, race or color may overlap with national origin in some cases.

If you believe you’ve experienced any form of discrimination, you need to contact the experienced attorneys at Brown Kwon & Lam for help.

What If You’re Perceived as Having a Certain National Origin?

In some cases, you might face discrimination or harassment for being perceived as having a certain national origin, even if you don’t. If people perceive you as being from a certain country, even if you aren’t, and discriminate against or harass you for this, it’s still illegal. 

Additionally, it’s also illegal to discriminate against someone for their association with someone who comes from a certain part of the world. If you’re married to or friends with someone of a certain ethnicity, you cannot be discriminated against or harassed for your connection to them. This is also true for associating with certain organizations, like religious groups.

Take Action Against Employment Discrimination Today

Your actual or perceived national origin should never be used against you in the workplace. Unfortunately, many face discrimination and harassment for these characteristics that have no impact on their job performance. If you’ve experienced this type of discrimination, Brown Kwon & Lam can help. We’ve worked with many NYC employees who have been discriminated against in the workplace.

Contact us today if you’ve experienced employment discrimination.