According to the Furman Center, New York City has one of the most diverse populations in the United States. It is one of the few cities in the U.S. where four different racial or ethnic groups each make up at least 10 percent of the population.
Cultural identities are vast, so it is important to know when discrimination occurs in the workplace based upon national origin. Here at Brown Kwon & Lam, we believe that all employees have the right to be treated justly.
What is national origin discrimination?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), national origin discrimination “involves treating people (applicants or employees) unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not).”
This includes the person’s cultural identity and anyone married to someone of a certain national origin. National origin discrimination can happen between a victim and perpetrator who are of the same national origin.
National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
Under federal law, discrimination based on someone’s national origin, perceived or actual, is forbidden in any aspect of employment. This includes the hiring, firing, pay, assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, or any other term or condition of employment.
Harassment in the workplace on the basis of national origin can also include offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s national origin, accent, or ethnicity.
The law does not prohibit teasing, offhand comments, and isolated incidents that are not considered serious by the hypothetical victim. Perpetrators of such harassment can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another business area, a co-worker, or a client or customer.
When Policies Impede Employee Rights
Policies cannot apply to everyone in a company but have a negative impact on a certain national origin that is not job-related.
For example, policies on language spoken must be directly related to the job and not be based on discriminatory reasons. So, if an employer has a strict English-only rule, it must be for the safety or efficient operations of the position. An English-only rule is prohibited in workplaces where speaking English does not affect an employee’s ability to do the job safely and well.
In addition, an employer may not have policies or make employment decisions based upon an employee’s accent. There are exceptions when an accent seriously interferes with the employee’s job performance.
Under the EEOC’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is illegal for an employer to discriminate in any aspect of hiring based upon an individual’s citizenship or immigration status. For example, companies cannot only hire U.S. citizens unless it is required by law, regulation, or government contract.
In addition, the IRCA applies to all employers with four or more employees; it protects anyone employed by or seeking employment by organizations that fall outside of the Civil Rights Act’s limitations.
It is important to note that under the Act, an employer may ask for employment verification documents. They cannot, however, require any further documentation outside of those required by the Immigration and Citizenship Services regulations.
The IRCA also prohibits retaliation against potential or current employees for asserting their rights under the Act, for filing a charge, or assisting in an investigation under IRCA.
Similar protections also exist under the New York and New York City Human Rights laws.
Contact The New York City National Origin Discrimination Attorneys Today
You are entitled to a safe work environment with equal opportunities and rights. Your perceived or actual national origin shouldn’t matter to your job.
But when your employer discriminates against you, you deserve justice. If you believe that you were a victim of national origin discrimination or harassment, call Brown Kwon & Lam, LLP today.