Every individual has the right to a workplace free of discrimination and hostility, regardless of their ancestry. Though federal and state laws exist to protect employees, discrimination based on national origin continues to be a problem in many American workplaces. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), 9.6% of the complaints they received (7,009 cases) for employment discrimination in 2019 involved national origin. Discrimination can come in many different forms, some of which may be difficult to recognize at first. Individuals who suspect that they may have been a victim of national origin discrimination should contact a skilled employment discrimination lawyer as soon as possible. Having the right legal counsel early on can help properly establish a claim, even before a complaint is filed.
From our offices in Red Bank, NJ, and Marlton, NJ, McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. represents both employees and employers throughout the state in a wide range of employment discrimination matters, including national origin discrimination. Our discrimination attorneys will provide you with a clear and candid evaluation of any potential claims, as well as all legal options available to you.
Defining National Origin Discrimination
Federal law prohibits racial discrimination and national origin discrimination in all employment-related matters, including recruitment, training, hiring, firing, promotions, compensation, benefits, and layoffs. An individual may be entitled to file a discrimination claim if he or she was treated unfairly on the basis of their national origin, race, color, creed, ancestry, ethnicity, or accent. It is also illegal for an employer to discriminate against current or potential employees because the person:
- Displays the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular ethnic group
- Identifies with, belongs, or is perceived to belong to a particular ethnicity or national group
- Has a foreign accent in a position where that accent would not affect job functionality
- Attends a school or religious space, such as a church or temple, that is associated with a nationality or ethnicity
- Belongs to an organization that is associated with a specific ethnicity or culture
- Has a surname associated with an ethnicity or culture
- Is married to or associates with persons of a particular nationality or ethnicity
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Prohibits National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
In New Jersey, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to their national origin or ethnicity. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) provides protections for employees and job applicants who are victims of unfair treatment based on their national origin, color, race, nationality, ancestry, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, or genetic information.
Common Examples of National Origin Discrimination
National origin discrimination in the workplace can cover a broad spectrum of activity specifically targeting employees of a certain nationality, including:
- Termination or Demotion
- Failure to Recruit or Hire
- Differential Treatment or Pay
- Withholding Training, Promotions or Career Advancement
- Being Subjected to Harassment or Increased Scrutiny
- The Existence of a Hostile Work Environment with Severe and Pervasive Harassment
- Terminating or Disciplining an Employee in Retaliation for Making a Complaint
Harassment In The Workplace Due To National Origin
Harassment in the workplace is illegal and defined as any offensive conduct that creates a hostile work environment. This includes, but is not limited to, ethnic slurs based on national origin, derogatory remarks, teasing, and other verbal or physical conduct that makes an employee uncomfortable to the extent of impeding upon their job functions. The party responsible for the harassment can be any manager or supervisor in a company, a coworker, or even a client or customer.
Teasing or harassing an employee due to their accent or fluency in English is illegal. Additionally, discriminating against an employee on those grounds, even if it does not create a hostile work environment by the definition of the law, may give rise to a discrimination claim.
- English-only Rules. These rules are generally regarded as discriminatory because they have the potential to limit an individual’s employment opportunities and may contribute to an atmosphere of intimidation and isolation. However, English-only rules may be permissible if the employer can demonstrate that the rule is a business necessity.
- English fluency. This can only affect one’s employment if it is required for the performance of the position.
- Accent discrimination. Teasing, harassing, or making an employment decision based on an employee’s or job applicant’s accent, when it does not affect the ability to perform a job, is discriminatory and therefore illegal.
Representing Employers In National Origin Discrimination Cases
Employers are responsible for creating a workplace atmosphere where national origin discrimination is not encouraged or tolerated. The most important thing for employers is to take proactive measures to prevent, investigate, address, and defend any possible claims of discrimination. Employers facing accusations of discrimination must work closely with lawyers who can develop the strongest possible defenses to these claims. Our firm represents a wide range of employers to defend national origin discrimination claims.
An NJ National Origin Discrimination Lawyer Can Help You
Before filing a complaint under the NJLAD or federal law, employees who feel they have been the victim of national origin discrimination should contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. first to discuss your rights and options.
Every person should be respected and feel safe while at their place of work. If you have worked in a hostile work environment or suffered discrimination in the workplace because of your ethnicity or national origin, call our Red Bank, NJ or Marlton, NJ office or contact us online today for a free consultation. We will discuss your rights and options, which may include internal complaints or a lawsuit, and help you every step of the way in seeking justice for unlawful workplace discrimination.