It is illegal for federal employers to discriminate against employees and applicants based on their national origins. Discriminating against a person for their national origin not only includes discrimination based on the country or region that they are from, but also because they are of a certain ethnicity, speak with an accent, or because they look like they might belong to a certain ethnicity. The practice is prohibited and illegal, even if it turns out that the individual is not of the assumed ethnic background.Discrimination based on an individual’s spouse or other close relative or associate being of a certain ethnic background is prohibited as well.
What is discrimination based on an individual’s national origins?
Discrimination based on national origins involves the unfavorable treatment of an individual in the work place, based on the person’s national origin or something related. Unfavorable treatment includes not hiring an applicant, firing an employee, giving an employee less pay, or denying an employee promotion, among other employment-related decisions. If any of these negative employment-related actions are taken because a person is of a certain national origin, or has an accent, appears to be of a certain national origin, or is married to a person of a certain national origin, then the employer or agency has acted illegally.
Agencies must also take reasonable steps to avoid the creation of a hostile workplace environment resulting from harassment of individuals based on aspects related to their real or perceived national origins.
If a practice has a disparately negative impact on employees of certain national origins, then that practice may or may not be illegal. For the practice to be legitimate, it must be necessary for the job being performed. For instance, English fluency can be a requirement for positions where it would be necessary for the efficient performance of the job. Additionally, an agency cannot make decisions negatively impacting and employee based on their accent, unless the accent seriously impairs their ability to do the job.
What if I believe I have been discriminated against because of my national origin?
If you believe you have been discriminated against, you can file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You should also consider speaking with an experienced employment attorney.
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