National Origin Discrimination
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. 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.
Federal law prohibits race 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, 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
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Prohibits National Origin Discrimination
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, nationality, ancestry, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, or genetic information.
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.