The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has updated a 14-year-old section in its discrimination guidance. Guidance relative to protections on the basis of “nation of origin” were significantly revised and some of the provisions within this protected class may affect you and the conduct of your employer.
Here’s what you need to know:
Nation of Origin Is Now “a National Strategic Priority”
In the release of this guidance the EEOC said, “The EEOC has identified immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable populations as a national strategic priority.” This means we can expect the EEOC to be particularly sensitive to discrimination on the basis of nation of origin, birth, or immigration.
Negative Actions Based on Perceived Nation of Origin Is Also Discriminatory
An employee or job candidate who is discriminated against because the employer or potential employer believes they are from a particular nation receives the same protection as someone who has been discriminated against because of their actual nation of origin.
For instance, if an employer assumes someone with an olive complexion is from the Middle East and refuses to hire them because of that, that is still discrimination even if their area of origin was not the Middle East.
Targeting Is Illegal
It is illegal for an employer to recruit in racially homogeneous ways, such as on a particular website dedicated to a white demographic. These actions could be discriminatory if they were taken to exclude a particular race or nation of origin.
Segregation Is Discrimination
It is illegal to keep employees of a particular ethnicity or nation of origin in an area of the business because of their outward appearance that identifies them as a particular ethnicity or from a particular nation.
For instance, it is considered discriminatory to place one ethnicity in front of the customers and keep another ethnicity in the back away from customer interaction.
English Fluency Requirements Are Not Discriminatory
Requiring employees to be fluent in English is not considered discriminatory if there is a job-related requirement for fluency. For example, it is appropriate to require that employees be able to communicate with customers. If, on the other hand, the job does not require English to be spoken the employer may not discriminate against an employee for that reason.
Immigration Status Has no Correlation to Discrimination Protection
All employees and potential employees are protected under Title VII regardless of their immigration status.
American Companies Operating Overseas Are Also Liable
American companies with offices in foreign countries must also adhere to the new discrimination guidance unless doing so violates a law within the country of operation.
It Is Illegal to Discriminate Against an Employee or a Job Candidate Even at the Customer’s Request
If a business has a customer who makes a request to only deal with a particular race or ethnicity or to avoid and refuse to deal with a particular race or ethnicity, honoring that customer’s request exposes the employer to liability for employment discrimination. The company is not off the hook in these types of situations just because the request originated from a third party.
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against because of your nation of origin or perceived nation of origin, contact us today at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A.. We can discuss your rights with you. The initial consultation is free.