Discrimination in the workplace isn’t limited to sexual harassment or wrongful termination based on gender, race, or disability. Another common type of workplace discrimination is against employees of various national origins.
The United States is made stronger by bringing citizens of different cultures and from all walks of life together. Whether an employee is Mexican, Iranian, American Indian, Russian, or another nationality, federal and Massachusetts state law requires employers to afford them equal treatment. If you are an employee working in Boston and you feel you’re being discriminated against based on your real or perceived national origin, then an experienced national origin discrimination lawyer can help.
The lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys have years of experience combating discrimination in the workplace. We take pride in working alongside Boston employees, helping them seek the justice and recognition that they deserve.
What Does National Origin Discrimination Mean?
An employee can be subjected to national origin discrimination if they are treated unfavorably because of their home country, culture, ancestry, linguistic characteristics, or accent. Discrimination can also apply if an employee is married to, associated with, or attends schools, temples, churches, or mosques from another national origin.
What Are Examples of National Origin?
National origin refers to a country or culture outside of the United States that you, your parents, or your spouse may be associated with. Some good examples of national origin discrimination include:
Affiliation is the most obvious example of national origin discrimination. As the name suggests, this occurs when the employer discriminates against an employee or employees because of their affiliation with an ethnic group. An example of this would be an employer harassing an employee of Jewish descent or deciding to pay an employee from the Middle East less than others who have the same job.
Discrimination based on affiliation with specific ethnic groups is not limited to countries outside of the United States, as it can also affect subgroups within those countries. For instance, if two employees come from Africa, but one is from Nigeria and the other from South Africa, it would be discrimination if the employee from South Africa got preferential treatment based solely on their national origin.
Similarly, employers should not discriminate against employees based on cultural beliefs, clothing, or appearance associated with a specific country or ethnic group.
How the employer perceives the employee is also a factor in legal issues involving national origin discrimination. An employer shouldn’t discriminate against an employee because of the perception that they belong to a certain heritage or ethnic group.
An example would be if an employer or colleague constantly harasses an employee for their Mexican descent, even though they are Puerto Rican. The harasser being mistaken doesn’t discount the fact that they are creating a hostile work environment for that employee.
Boston law also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on associations and relationships with other national groups. Employers shouldn’t hire or fire a worker because they are married or associated with someone of a specific descent. For instance, firing an employee because she has a Middle Eastern spouse is illegal.
What’s the Difference Between National Origin and Race?
Federal laws clearly state that all employees should be treated with due respect and fairness in their workplace without facing national origin or racial discrimination. Despite society mixing these two terms, there is a difference between national origin and race. While race refers to an employee’s physical qualities, national origin refers to their place of origin.
Not all white people come from Europe, and not every black person comes from Africa. If you’re a white person raised in South Africa or a black person raised in France, then your first language, social customs, and religion might differ from members of those racial groups who were raised in America. If you come from a country outside of the United States and your employer or colleague discriminates against you based on that information, then a national origin discrimination lawyer can help you build your case.
On the other hand, if you are a person of color born and raised in the United States but discriminated against because of your appearance, you can sue your employer for racial discrimination.
HKM Employment Attorneys has experience advocating for clients dealing with all forms of employment discrimination. We can help walk you through the steps of filing an official complaint and documenting evidence should your case lead to an investigation or trial.
How Can You Prove Discrimination Based on National Origin?
While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating based on color, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation, some workplaces still create hostile work environments for these protected classes. Should your case go to court, both you and your employer will need to provide evidence for your claims.
With legal advice from a seasoned employment attorney, employees can prove their discriminatory treatment and harassment claims by demonstrating that:
- They are members or were perceived to be members of a protected class.
- They were harassed due to their status (or perceived status) of being a member of a protected class.
- They filed an official complaint, but the inappropriate behavior continued.
- Other coworkers did not receive the same treatment as members of the protected class.
Consult with a National Origin Discrimination Lawyer in Boston
National origin discrimination is illegal during hiring processes, promotions, payments, job training, assignments, referrals, or discharges. If you think you have been subjected to any form of national origin employment discrimination, then hiring an employment attorney to act as your advocate could mean the difference between a failed or successful case.
Get started today by reaching out to HKM Employment Attorneys for an initial consultation. We’ll discuss the details of your case and help you establish the next steps.