EEOC Seeks Public Input on Proposed Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

Author: Marta Moakley, Legal Editor

June 7, 2016

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has voted to release for public input a proposed enforcement guidance addressing national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a press release, EEOC Chair Jenny Yang stated, "The EEOC has identified protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable populations as a national strategic priority."

The EEOC last addressed national origin discrimination in December 2002, when the current Compliance Manual on National Origin Discrimination was last issued. The EEOC has updated many of the statistics and case references throughout the revised guidance, as well as addressed:

  • Job segregation. If an employer assigns employees to only entry-level positions based on national origin, then the employer may be engaging in unlawful job segregation;
  • Human trafficking. An employer may violate Title VII (in addition to other criminal statutes) by coercing or exploiting workers based on the protected category of national origin; and
  • Intersectional discrimination. Intersectional discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates based on a combination of two or more protected bases (e.g., national origin and race or national origin and sex), resulting in a subset of a protected class (e.g., Asian women).

The revised guidance also addresses citizenship issues, foreign employers and language-related concerns. The guidance lists promising practices (actions that potentially minimize the likelihood of Title VII violations and promote equal employment opportunity) by employers related to recruitment, hiring, promotion, discipline and harassment, including:

  • Using various recruitment methods rather than relying on word-of mouth to fill positions;
  • Establishing written objective criteria for evaluating candidates for hire and discipline; and
  • Clearly communicating to the workforce that harassment will not be tolerated in the workplace.

Those wishing to submit comments must do so by July 1, 2016. The input can be submitted online. In addition, hard copies may be mailed to Public Input, EEOC Executive Office, 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20507.

The EEOC will review the input and may use it when finalizing the proposed guidance.