Hopefully, California employees know that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against them based on their national origin. However, they may not understand exactly what that means.

Employment discrimination based on national origin

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, national origin discrimination occurs when employers treat job applicants or employees unfavorably due to their country of origin or the geographic region they are from. Legal experts say that nationality-based workplace discrimination is also frequently linked with race, color and religious discrimination. This is because an employer might make assumptions about an employee’s race or religion based on his or her national origin.

Employers could violate an employee’s national origin protections under Title VII in overt or subtle ways. For example, a supervisor who repeatedly makes derogatory comments about an employee’s nationality is committing an overt act of discrimination. A manager who refuses to hire an applicant who wears non-Western clothing, such as a sari or a hijab, is committing a more subtle form of discrimination. Meanwhile, employers who incorrectly apply “English-only rules” or unnecessarily demand English fluency from employees may also be committing discrimination based on national origin.

Legal help

Employees who experience workplace discrimination might need the assistance of an employment law attorney. The attorney may help gather evidence supporting the employee’s claims and file a complaint with the EEOC or a similar state agency. If the complaint moves forward, the at-fault employer might be ordered to compensate the employee for lost pay, lost benefits, emotional distress and other damages. The employer may also be ordered to change its policies to ensure that no further incidents of discrimination occur.