National Origin Discrimination

Editor's Note: Know how to identify and prevent national origin discrimination.

Beth P. Zoller Overview: Title VII and various state and local laws prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals based on national origin. As such, employers cannot discriminate against individuals based on their ethnicity, accent, country of origin or birthplace or because they are of a particular background or group.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate based upon an individual's citizenship or immigration status. Accordingly, employers should develop policies and practices that prohibit national origin discrimination as well as citizenship discrimination and engage in training for employees and supervisors with regard to fostering a tolerant, diverse and nondiscriminatory working environment.

Employers should understand that there are exceptions, and they may discriminate based on national origin if it is a bona fide occupational qualification. Further, if an employer seeks to adopt a rule that employees may only speak English in the workplace, the employer must show that it is justified by a business necessity such as safety and efficiency of the workplace. An employer should train all supervisors, managers and employees to avoid ethnic slurs and stereotypes and institute diversity training in order to foster a more tolerant workplace.

Trends: In the wake of September 11th, there is a recent trend among the federal government to protect Arabs and Muslims from discrimination in the workplace and make sure that they are not subject to bias and hate crimes. Additionally, the EEOC has identified targeting recruiting and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups as well as protecting immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers as two priorities on its Strategic Enforcement Plan. It has also filed a number of national origin discrimination lawsuits on behalf of individuals of Muslim, Sikh, Arab, Middle Eastern and South Asian descent.

Author: Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor

Latest items in National Origin Discrimination

  • Why the Supreme Court Term Aided Employers

    Date:
    23 September 2013
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    The Supreme Court's 2013 schedule featured a number of employment-related decisions that will affect the HR realm, including a pair wins for employers in cases involving Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The latest XpertHR podcast looks at these rulings and their implications.

  • Macy's Agrees to Pay Thousands to Settle DOJ's Immigration-Related Discrimination Claims

    Date:
    12 September 2013
    Type:
    News

    The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it reached a settlement with Macy's resolving allegations that Macy's discriminated against work authorized immigrant employees during the Form I-9 employment eligibility reverification process.

  • Financial Services Resource Center for HR: Discrimination and Harassment

    Date:
    28 June 2013
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    XpertHR's Financial Services Resource Center for HR helps financial services employers handle their most challenging employment issues by bringing relevant resources together in one place for easy access.

  • Podcast: Inside the Supreme Court Insight on Case With Big HR Implications

    Date:
    09 May 2013
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    XpertHR takes you inside the Supreme Court with full coverage of the Title VII retaliation case of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar, including sound from the justices themselves. Depending on the outcome, the impact could extend to other employment laws.

  • Comprehensive Resources Help Employers Prevent Discrimination Against Muslim and Arab Workers

    Date:
    22 April 2013
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    Recent case law developments highlight the importance of preventing discrimination against workers who are Muslim or of Middle Eastern background.

  • Podcast Features EEOC General Counsel David Lopez

    Date:
    11 March 2013
    Type:
    Editor's Choice

    In a wide-ranging XpertHR podcast, EEOC General Counsel David Lopez discusses a host of key employment law issues, including notable litigation trends affecting the Commission. Lopez also talks about the biggest mistakes he sees employers making.

  • EEOC General Counsel Discusses Litigation Trends With XpertHR

    Date:
    11 March 2013
    Type:
    News

    In a new XpertHR podcast, EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said the Commission continues to see "very egregious cases of racial harassment." He also addressed notable litigation trends involving national origin discrimination plus the litigation rise involving mental disability issues.

  • Equal Pay Still a Hot Issue: Fair Pay Act Reintroduced in Congress

    Date:
    31 January 2013
    Type:
    News

    In a year in which equal pay looks to be hot issue, the Fair Pay Act (S. 168, H.R. 438) was reintroduced in Congress in both the House and the Senate by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) respectively.

  • EEOC Statistics Show Retaliation Still Top Workplace Concern

    Date:
    29 January 2013
    Type:
    News

    On January 28, 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released fiscal year 2012 statistics on employment discrimination charges filed with the agency. Retaliation (37,836) was the most frequently filed claim, followed by race discrimination (33,512) and sex discrimination (30,356), which includes sexual harassment and pregnancy discrimination. Retaliation charges remain a top concern for employers and have since 2010, accounting for 38.1% of all charges in 2012.

  • Supreme Court to Hear "Mixed Motive" Title VII Case

    Date:
    23 January 2013
    Type:
    News

    The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether an employee can sue a former employer under Title VII's retaliation provision by showing illegal bias was one of multiple reasons for taking action against him - a so-called "mixed motive" - or whether he must prove the employer would not have acted "but for" its improper motive. The issue has divided the nation's appellate courts.

About this topic

HR guidance on addressing national origin discrimination in the workplace and developing policies and strategies to ensure a tolerant and diverse workforce.