How is National Origin defined?
National origin refers to the country where a person was born, or, more broadly, the country from which his or her ancestors came, while ethnicity or ancestry refers to only the applicant’s or employee’s ethnic identity, or the country, nation, tribe, or other identifiable population from which a person’s forebearers came or to which they belong.
What is National Origin, Ancestry, & Ethnicity discrimination?
National Origin discrimination occurs when an individual is treated differently or unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background, even if they are not.
National origin discrimination also occurs when an individual is treated differently or unfavorably because they are married to, or associated with, a person of a particular national origin or because of the applicant’s or employee’s connection with an ethnic organization or group.
Even if a person who is responsible for the discriminatory conduct is of the same national origin or ethnicity as the applicant or employee, it is still national origin discrimination.
National Origin & Employment Policies/Practices
An employer’s policy may be discriminatory if it has a disparate impact on individuals of a particular national origin. That is, a policy causes an unlawful disparate impact where it is neutral on its face but has a negative impact on people of a certain national origin while not job-related or necessary to the operation of the business.
“English-Only” Rules at Work
The law only permits a rule that requires an employee to speak fluent English if fluency in English is necessary for the applicant or employee to perform his or her job effectively. An English-only rule, which requires employees to speak only English on the job, is only allowed if it is needed to ensure the safe or efficient operation of the employer’s business and is put in place for nondiscriminatory reasons.
An employment decision cannot be based on an employee’s foreign accent, unless the accent seriously interferes with the employee’s job performance.
Citizenship Discrimination & Workplace Laws
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) prohibits an employer from discriminating with respect to, among other reasons, hiring, firing, or recruitment based upon an individual’s citizenship or immigration status.
Employers cannot hire only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents unless required to do so by law, regulation, or government contract. Employers may not refuse to accept lawful documentation that establishes the employment eligibility of an employee, or demand additional documentation beyond what is legally required, when verifying employment eligibility (i.e., completing a Form I-9), based on the employee’s national origin or citizenship status. It is the employee’s choice which of the acceptable Form I-9 documents to show to verify employment eligibility.
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