What can an employer do to prevent national origin discrimination?

Author: Shannon C. Johnson

To prevent national origin discrimination, it is critical for an employer to have a well-written and detailed discrimination policy or EEO policy that specifically prohibits national origin discrimination. The policy should provide employees with reporting and resolution procedures in the event an employee needs to file a complaint. All employees should be required to sign an acknowledgement that they received and understood the policy against national origin discrimination. An employer should make sure that all supervisors, managers and HR personnel strictly enforce the policy. Such management employees should also be instructed to thoroughly document the legitimate business reasons and circumstances for all employment decisions.

Frequent employee training and education is also extremely beneficial in preventing national origin discrimination in the workplace. An employer should make sure that all employees, especially managers and HR personnel, receive diversity training in order to foster an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

An employer should also take steps to prevent national origin discrimination in hiring and recruiting potential employees. An employer should avoid interview questions that discriminate on the basis of national origin and instead focus on an individual's ability to perform the job in question. Requirements for height and weight should be reasonably related to the job and should not exclude applicants on the basis of national origin.

An employer can also prevent national origin discrimination and harassment by avoiding stereotyping on the basis of national origin in the assignment of job duties and responsibilities (e.g., assigning all foreign employees to positions in the kitchen while nonforeign employees serve as waiters in a restaurant). Further, an employer should train supervisors and employees to avoid ethnic-related slurs, stereotypes and humor, which can be used as evidence of national origin discrimination.

Moreover, an employer should only institute English-only policies or language requirements when the requirement is legitimately related to the employer's business and necessary to perform the duties of a specific position.