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The EEOC and national origin discrimination

New Jersey is ethnically diverse and so are its workplaces. Unfortunately, discrimination based on the national origins of workers is still common around the country. In November 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a guidance for enforcement actions involving complaints of national origin discrimination.

National origin discrimination is discrimination against a worker or job applicant because of his or her ethnicity, origin or characteristics pointing to a particular geographical place of birth. Employers are prohibited from engaging in actions that have a disparate impact on people of specific national origins or who are perceived as having them. According to the EEOC, claims based on national origin discrimination make up about 11 percent of all of the discrimination complaints that are filed annually with the agency.

The EEOC outlines certain activities that are likely discriminatory. For example, employers that cave into a customer's request not to work with a specific employee because of his or her national origin or linguistic or cultural characteristics are likely engaged in prohibited national origin discrimination. Employers are also not allowed to forbid workers from talking in their own languages during breaks or at meals. Employers are allowed to institute rules that are based on national security requirements, however.

While workplace discrimination against members of classes that are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is forbidden, it is still common. The prohibition applies not only at the workplace but also during the interview and hiring stages. People who feel that they have been unlawfully targeted may want to meet with an employment law attorney in order to learn what rights they may have and what recourse may thus be available.

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