America stands as a diverse tapestry of cultures, ethnicities, and national origins. This diversity presents one of our greatest strengths. However, prejudice continues to infect some workplaces, allowing the persistence of discriminatory employment practices against individuals based on their birthplace or ancestry.
Robust federal and state laws aim to prevent national origin from impacting employment decisions and treatment. Yet many employees remain unaware of their protections or fear retaliation for speaking up.
At TONG LAW, we have helped numerous clients exercise their rights in the face of national origin discrimination at work. If you have faced injustice related to your ethnicity, culture, surname, accent, or birthplace, please contact a California national origin discrimination attorney.
What is National Origin Discrimination?
National origin discrimination involves adverse treatment of employees or job applicants based on their place of birth, ancestry, ethnicity, culture, language, appearance, or accent. This unjust treatment manifests in workplace interactions like derogatory jokes about an employee’s birthplace, denial of promotions due to accent, or policies that disparately impact specific ethnic groups.
The harassment, hostility, or simple denial of equal opportunity due to nationality contradicts federal and California employment laws. Under these robust anti-discrimination protections, employers cannot leverage someone’s origin to inform hiring, firing, promotions, or wage decisions. Nor can they harass or mistreat workers based on their birthplace or ethnicity.
While related, national origin discrimination differs from racial discrimination, which involves bias based on physical characteristics rather than place of origin, yet both qualify as equally unlawful.
Violations During Hiring and Recruitment
Discrimination based on national origin frequently arises in hiring and recruitment. While no employer can institute an overt policy against applicants of certain ethnic backgrounds, prejudice often surfaces through more subtle means.
Employers may deter candidates with foreign-sounding surnames or accents. Job advertisements could list preferences for applicants from particular regions or countries. During interviews, employers may apply stricter standards or additional prerequisites to applicants perceived as having certain national origins.
Even when candidates demonstrate equal qualifications, some employers allow assumptions about their ethnicity or place of birth to override merit-based hiring, rejecting applicants assumed to be of particular backgrounds. Each of these discriminatory recruiting and hiring practices contravenes anti-discrimination laws.
Unlawful Discrimination in the Workplace
Once hired, employees remain protected from discrimination and harassment, unfair treatment, or termination due to their ethnicity or national origin. Unfortunately, some employers cultivate toxic and hostile work environments targeting minorities.
Some examples of unlawful national origin discrimination include:
- Demoting or denying promotions to qualified Asian employees based on stereotypes
- Co-workers repeatedly mock a colleague’s accent or inability to speak fluent English
- Management selectively enforcing “English-only” rules against Latino staff members
- Subjecting employees of Middle Eastern descent to heightened scrutiny or harassment
In many cases, the discrimination amounts to intentional disparate treatment. Other times, facially neutral policies like English fluency requirements disproportionately impact those of certain national origins. Regardless of intent, such conduct breaches anti-discrimination laws.
Wrongful Termination Related to National Origin
One of the most devastating forms of national origin discrimination involves termination based on ethnicity or birthplace rather than poor performance or misconduct.
While employment in California remains “at-will,” employers cannot legally fire employees for discriminatory reasons like national origin or ethnicity. Wrongful termination may occur through:
- Singling out employees of a certain ethnicity during layoffs
- Fabricating performance issues to justify firing an employee based on their accent
- Removing an employee immediately after they complain of national origin harassment
If your employment was terminated shortly after facing harassment from a superior or coworker or you were treated differently than peers of other origins, you may have a claim for wrongful termination.
Taking Legal Action to Counter Discrimination
If you experience national origin discrimination, you have legal options to pursue justice.
First, file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department within three years of the discriminatory acts. You may also choose to file a claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
After exhausting this administrative requirement, an employment law attorney can assist you in filing a lawsuit under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, seeking compensatory damages, lost income, and punitive damages related to unlawful treatment.
Successful legal action can further compel corrective action from employers, like policy changes, training against bias, and prevention of future discriminatory mistreatment.
Connect With a Passionate Advocate Today – Contact TONG LAW
If you have experienced discrimination, harassment, or unjust treatment related to your national origin, ethnicity, or birthplace, please reach out to TONG LAW to speak with a skilled national origin discrimination lawyer. Our team has helped countless California employees exercise their rights in the face of unlawful discrimination.
We offer zealous, ethical, and highly effective legal representation to confront injustice and pursue lost wages, damages, and policy changes. No matter your background or language, you deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law. Contact us today for a confidential consultation – let us stand up for your rights.