National Origin Discrimination
Under both federal and state law, it is unlawful to treat applicants or employees unfavorably because of their national origin. This type of discrimination can be difficult to prove due to its often-covert nature, therefore it is prudent to contact a local attorney for assistance with your claim.
National origin discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against an applicant or employee because of ancestry, birthplace, ethnicity, accent, or association with people of a certain national origin. Discrimination based on characteristics associated with national origin, such as a surname, skin color, clothing, or membership in certain organizations, is also forbidden.
It is unlawful to discriminate based on national origin when it comes to all aspects of employment, including:
- Job duties/assignments
- Fringe benefits
- Other terms or conditions of employment
Employers are prohibited from using an employment policy or practice that negatively impacts people of a certain national origin. They may not discriminate against applicants or employees based on perceived ethnicity; therefore, employers who mistakenly make assumptions about a worker’s national origin may still be liable for national origin discrimination.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is a complicated area of law that gives rise to many questions. Some of the most frequently asked questions include:
- Who is protected from national origin discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD)?
The NJLAD protects all employees in the state of New Jersey and potentially covers non-residents who telecommute to New Jersey for work.
- Can an employer ask about my citizenship?
Employers may not ask about citizenship during your interview; rather, they may inform all applicants that if they are hired for the job, they will be expected to provide evidence of being able to legally work in the U.S. within the first three days of employment.
- Am I required to answer questions about my national origin on a job application?
Questions regarding national origin or race may be included on job applications but answering is optional.
- Are “English-only” rules allowed in the workplace?
Employers may implement a rule requiring employees to speak only English in the workplace if it is necessary for conducting business and if it is equally applied to, and enforced upon, all employees.
- What can I do if my employer fires me for reporting national origin discrimination?
Retaliation for reporting national origin discrimination is prohibited, therefore employees may not be terminated, demoted, or otherwise treated unfairly as a result of their discrimination complaint or claim.
National Origin Harassment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that in 2015, approximately 37 percent of all national origin discrimination claims included harassment. Harassment in the workplace based on national origin is also prohibited under both federal and New Jersey law. Employers have a duty to maintain a work environment that is free from harassment based on national origin discrimination or any other protected characteristic. Depending on the circumstances of the case, they may be liable for unlawful harassment by supervisors, employees, or even non-employees.
Employees are generally not able to collect damages for offhand remarks or isolated acts, however severe or pervasive harassment that creates a hostile work environment may give rise to a viable claim. Whether a work environment is considered hostile depends on the circumstances of the case, including whether the conduct was physically threatening or intimidating and whether the conduct was repetitive.
Damages for National Origin Discrimination and/or Harassment
It is generally advantageous to file a claim under the NJLAD because it offers more protections than Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Damages available under the NJLAD include:
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Emotional distress
- Lost benefits
- Punitive damages
South Jersey Workplace Discrimination Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Represent Employees in National Origin Discrimination Claims
If you were subjected to national origin discrimination or harassment, contact a South Jersey workplace discrimination lawyer at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC. With offices in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, our experienced attorneys assist employees throughout South Jersey, including the areas of Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County. For a free consultation, complete our online contact form or call us at 856-235-7075.