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What defines national origin discrimination?

Employees in New York may benefit from understanding more about national origin discrimination, as described by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This type of discrimination can be described as mistreating applicants or employees because they are of a different ethnicity, from a different part of the world or country or due to their accent. Even if the victim and offender are of the same national origin, this type of discrimination may still exist.

Since the enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, it has been unlawful for employers to discriminate against an individual's immigration or citizenship status in regards to recruitment, hiring, termination or referrals. Employers are only to consider an applicant or employee's accent if it actually interferes with work performance. Employers are permitted to invoke 'English-only" rules only if necessary to perform the job safely and effectively. Employers are also prohibited from creating policies that are non-work related and adversely affect people of a specific national origin.

Employers are not allowed to retaliate against people who assert their rights guaranteed by the Immigration Reform and Control Act. It is also illegal to harass people because of their national origin. This harassment may be described as derogatory or offensive conduct directed towards someone's ethnicity, national origin or accent. The harassment becomes unlawful when it creates an offensive or hostile work environment for the victim. The offender may be a peer, direct supervisor, another supervisor or a non-employee such as a customer or contractor.

People who have been victimized by this type of workplace discrimination may benefit from contacting a lawyer who has experience in employment law. Legal counsel may be able to investigate the complaint and determine what remedies are available.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "National Origin Discrimination", November 12, 2014

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