Will national origin discrimination ever go away?

Gone are the days of signs in front of businesses that say things like "Irish need not apply," but national origin discrimination continues to be a problem in Arizona and other areas of the United States. In Arizona, for example, Mexican nationals commonly face discrimination that translates into the loss of their jobs, loss of job opportunities and poor treatment at work.

If you're concerned that you or a family member is facing employment-related national origin discrimination, keep reading to learn more about this topic.

Federal law prohibits national origin discrimination

It doesn't matter if you're from the Ukraine, the Philippines or Mexico -- Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects you against national origin discrimination at work in the United States. Furthermore, victims of this kind of discrimination can turn to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) -- the agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws -- for help and support.

Under Title VII, immigrants who have the ability to legally work in the United States cannot be denied an employment opportunity as a result of their ancestry, national origin, race, culture, accent or linguistic characteristics. Furthermore, they must receive equal opportunities no matter if they are associated with or married to someone from a specific nation. The same protections apply to someone who has a surname that belongs to a specific national origin group.

Title VII employment protections include:

  • Protection from hiring, recruitment, firing and layoff decisions based on national origin.
  • Protection from harassment based on national origin.
  • Protection from discrimination based on foreign accents unless the accent prevents the worker from successfully carrying out his or her job duties.
  • Protection from English-only rules that aren't required for safe and efficient workplaces.
  • Protection from national origin discrimination of all legal U.S. workers regardless of whether the individuals are U.S. citizen or not.

Understand your rights as a foreigner working in the United States

One of the biggest problems with national origin discrimination is the fact that workers often do not know their legal rights and protections under U.S. federal laws. If you're from a foreign country working in the United States -- and you believe you have been the victim of discrimination based on your characteristics as a foreigner or immigrant, study your civil rights and take legal actions to stop the discrimination if necessary.

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