National Origin Discrimination in California

  • Dec 27 2013
  • Gilleon Law Firm, APC

Of the 19,839 employment discrimination cases filed in 2012 with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), 3,825 were based on “national origin.”

Defining national origin

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit differential treatment based on national origin. This means that whether a job candidate’s or employee’s family comes from Cuba, Sudan, Mexico or Jordan, he or she must be given the same employment opportunities as any other person. For example, an employer may not fire, transfer or create a hostile work environment for an employee because of the worker’s home country or the worker’s ancestors’ home country.

What national origin discrimination looks like in the workplace

Quid pro quo employment discrimination, commonly called “a smoking gun,” rarely occurs. Usually, national origin discrimination has to be proven through circumstantial evidence and employment statistics. Here are some examples of national origin discrimination:

  • Taking adverse action against an employee because of his or her accent when speaking without an accent is not an essential part of the job
  • Requiring English fluency or speaking only English on the job when it is not the central function of the position
  • Establishing a height requirement that is not essential to the function of the job (this may disproportionately target Mexican-Americans, among other groups)

If national origin is an essential component of the job — a bona fide occupational qualification — that is necessary for the employer’s business operation, the employer may then set guidelines based on national origin.

Recovery of damages

Victims of national origin employment discrimination may recover back pay, lawyer fees, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages. In addition, they may be entitled to injunctive relief, such as reinstatement.

If you have been fired or reassigned because of your last name, accent or home country, schedule a consultation with our experienced employment discrimination lawyer to learn about any possible recourse that might be available to you.

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