According to the Furman Center, New York City has one of the most diverse populations, as one of the few cities in the United States where four different racial or ethnic groups each make up at least 10 percent of the population.
Knowing that these cultural identities are vast, it is important to know that when discrimination occurs in the workplace based upon national origin, that you as an employee have rights and should not be treated unjustly.
What is national origin discrimination?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 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).”
Not only does this include the person’s cultural identity, but if they are married to someone of a certain national origin, they cannot be discriminated against. In addition, national origin discrimination can occur between a victim and perpetrator who are of the same national origin.
National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
Under federal law, discrimination based upon national origin, perceived or actual, is forbidden in any aspect of employment including the hiring, firing, pay, assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, or any other term or condition of employment.
In addition to discriminating in employment practices, harassment in the workplace on the basis of national origin is also prohibited. This can include offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s national origin, accent, or ethnicity.
While the law forbids frequent or severe hostile or offensive work environments, it does not prohibit teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not considered serious. Perpetrators of such harassment can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area of the business, a co-worker, or a client or customer.
When Policies Impede Employee Rights
Just like other forms of discrimination in the workplace, if a policy that applies to everyone, regardless of their status in a protected group, has a negative impact on a certain national origin that is not job-related, it is prohibited.
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 safety or efficient operations of the position. If it does not impact the person’s ability to do the job safely and well, it is prohibited to have such limitations.
In addition, an employer may not have policies or make employment decisions based upon an employee’s accent, unless such 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. This includes only hiring U.S. citizens or unless it is required by law, regulation, or government contract.
In addition, the IRCA applies to all employers with four or more employees, meaning it protects those who are employed by or seeking employment by those organizations that fall outside of the Civil Rights Act limitations.
It is important to note that under the Act, an employer may ask for employment verification documents, but they cannot 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, or 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 no matter your perceived or actual national origin. But when your employer discriminates against you, ensuring you won’t be able to advance in your chosen career, you deserve justice. If you believe that you were a victim of national origin discrimination or harassment, call Brown Kwon & Lam, LLP today.