National origin employment discrimination becoming more widespread

A meeting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission held in November 2013 called attention to the issue of national origin discrimination in the workplace and how such discrimination is becoming more of a problem. This type of employment discrimination is less widely understood by the general public than other forms of employment discrimination, according to employee rights advocates, and therefore many people are unaware of their rights. People should be aware of what national origin discrimination is and why national origin discrimination is becoming more common in California and across the U.S.

What is national origin discrimination?

The law forbids employers from discriminating based on national origin when making employment decisions. National origin employment discrimination is discriminating against an employment applicant or an employee based upon the belief that the applicant or employee is from a particular part of the country or world, because of a person's ethnicity or accent, or because of a person's perceived ethnicity. National origin discrimination also includes discriminating against a person who is married to an individual of a certain ethnic group or because a person is involved with an ethnic organization.

The law also protects people from harassment in the workplace because of national origin. Harassment is illegal when it rises to the level of making the work environment hostile or offensive. The harassment may come from a direct supervisor, a supervisor in another department or even customers or clients of the business.

Changing workforce demographics

National origin discrimination is becoming more of an issue as the demographics of the U.S. workforce change. EEOC representatives reported that since the last time the EEOC updated its manual about national origin discrimination in 2002, the country has seen a substantial increase in immigration from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean. The influx of immigrants makes laws that protect people from national origin employment discrimination are increasingly important. However, these laws are less widely-understood by both employers and employees as other employment laws.

Many immigrants, particularly Latinos, suffer national origin employment discrimination. Representatives from the Mexican American Legal and Education Defense Fund report that Latinos increasingly are victims of job segregation, such as only being hired as maids or janitors in the hotel industry but never as front desk workers, and often suffer harassment because of their perceived national origin. In many cases, employees who are victims of such discrimination do not speak up for fear that their employers will follow through with threats of deportation.

Talk to a lawyer

National origin employment discrimination will continue to be a problem until each employee knows about his or her right to work in an environment free from such behavior. If you have been the victim of national origin discrimination or harassment at work, speak with an employment discrimination attorney who can help you obtain justice.