National origin discrimination in the workplace is illegal under state and federal law. It happens when an employer treats applicants or employees negatively based on the fact that they come from a particular area of the world, because of their accents or ethnicity, or because they look like they have a specific ethnic background even if they are not of that ethnicity. An employer can also engage in illegal national origin discrimination when it allows discrimination against applicants based on their relationships with people of a certain national origin or ethnicity. Finally, national origin discrimination can also occur when one person who discriminates against another based on his or her national origin share the same origin. Here is some information about national origin discrimination from the employment discrimination attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
What Is National Origin Discrimination?
National origin discrimination in the workplace includes any type of unfavorable treatment of employees or applicants because they are or appear to be from a specific region, area, or country. National origin discrimination typically occurs when a supervisor, co-worker, or hiring manager treats an applicant or employee unfairly based on the individual’s ancestry, accent, or culture.
Discrimination sometimes occurs when an employer or hiring manager believes that an applicant or employee comes from a specific country or region or is an undocumented immigrant when the belief is untrue. For example, if an employer thinks that an applicant or employee looks like he or she has a certain national origin when the employee or applicant does not and treats him or her unfairly, the unfair treatment still qualifies as illegal discrimination. An employer also may not treat an employee unfairly because he or she is married to someone who has a specific national origin or appears to be of a specific ancestry when the employee is not a member of that national origin.
Aspects of Employment and National Origin Discrimination
National origin discrimination is illegal in all aspects of the employment relationship. Employers cannot discriminate against individuals based on their real or perceived national origin during hiring, promotions, discipline, job assignments, salary determinations, training, benefits, layoffs, termination, or any other term and condition of employment.
Harassment Based on National Origin
Workplace harassment based on an employee’s national origin is also illegal. Some examples of unlawful harassment based on a person’s national origin might include derogatory, offensive remarks about an employee’s accent, ethnicity, or national origin. While simple teasing is not considered harassment by itself, harassment is illegal when it is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment or when it leads to an adverse job action such as a demotion or termination. A harasser can be a co-worker, supervisor, customer, client, or contractor.
National Origin Discrimination in Employment Policies and Practices
Employers cannot implement policies or engage in practices that have a disparate and negative impact on people of a specific national origin when the policies and practices do not directly relate to the duties of the job and are not necessary for the business’s operations.
For example, English-only rules might or might not be examples of national origin discrimination. Employers can only require employees to speak English fluently if doing so is necessary for the employees to perform their jobs. English-only rules that require employees to only speak English at work are only allowed when they are necessary to protect the efficient or safe operations of the businesses and are implemented for non-discriminatory purposes. Employers cannot base employment decisions on an employee’s accent unless his or her accent substantially interferes with his or her ability to perform.
Citizenship Discrimination in the Workplace
Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), employers cannot discriminate against applicants or employees in regards to hiring, recruitment, firing, or referral based on their citizenship or immigration status. Under this law, employers are prohibited from only hiring lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens unless doing so is required by law. IRCA does not mean that employers must hire undocumented immigrants, however. But, if an applicant or employee has an Employment Authorization Document and a non-immigrant visa, the employer cannot refuse to accept his or her lawful documentation of his or her eligibility for employment or demand more documentation than what is required under the law. Employers can choose which of the acceptable documents to request to verify the applicants’ eligibility for employment. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against applicants or employees for asserting their rights under IRCA, filing a discrimination charge, or participating in an investigation of discrimination under the law.
Get Help from Swartz Swidler
Discrimination in the workplace is a pervasive problem in New Jersey and across the United States. If you think that your employer has treated you unfairly based on your real or perceived national origin or your citizenship status, you should speak with the attorneys at Swartz Swidler. Call us today at (856) 685-7420 for a free case evaluation.