National Origin Discrimination FAQ

Being a victim of discrimination can make the struggle to work or find work difficult. It can be a confusing and frustrating time. Discrimination is something you never plan to face, so you may not know what steps to take or if there is anything you can do to solve the problem.

National origin is one of the categories of protected classes that falls under federal laws such as Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. Protected classes are groups of people that are more likely to experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

What Is National Origin Discrimination?

Discrimination is when an employer takes a negative action against an employee (or against a prospective employee). In a case of discrimination based on national origin, an employer takes a negative action because of someone's race, skin pigmentation, nation they come from or any other factor based on an employee's national origin.

Discrimination can take many different forms in the workplace. An employer could take negative actions against an employee, such as:

  • Termination
  • Discriminatory dress codes
  • Refusal to hire or promote
  • Change in work duties
  • Segregation of employees

Keep in mind that even if discrimination is one of many factors for a negative action, it is still illegal. Often, with decisions like these in the workplace, an employer may try to hide behind other reasons for taking a negative action. An employee's national origin should not be a consideration for a negative action in the workplace.

Are There Federal Protections?

There are federal laws that protect employees from discrimination based on national origin. Laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act are important pieces of legislation intended to protect victims of discrimination.

In addition to negative consequences for the employer, there are federal laws to protect employees from retaliation for reporting discrimination. Employees are also protected from retaliation if they are asked to testify in a discrimination case for another employee.

Depending on where you live, there may be additional state laws that provide protection. Also, your employer may have policies in place regarding discrimination. Keep in mind that state laws and company policies can only give you more protection, not less.

What Should I Do If I Am A Victim Of National Origin Discrimination?

Your first step should be to talk to your human resources representative or human resources department. Follow all the steps they give you and keep your own record of everything they ask you to do, including:

  • Paperwork you fill out
  • Meetings about your report that you attend
  • Notes from conversations about the report
  • Additional incidents

If your employer takes no action or the process stops, contact an attorney familiar with discrimination cases. Talking to a lawyer about your discrimination case can help you understand what should come next and what you need to do to move the case forward.

Is There A Time Limit On A Claim For National Origin Discrimination?

There are time limits for bringing a claim for national origin discrimination. These limits vary based on the specifics of the claim and the state in which you live. You should contact an attorney to discuss the details of your claim.

Can An Employer Ask About My National Origin Before Hiring Me?

Questions about your national origin must be voluntary and your answer (or lack of it) cannot be used in an employer's decision to hire you. Additionally, employers must have a legitimate use for the information. If an employer does not have a legitimate reason for asking a candidate's national origin on an application, it is presumed that the employer intends to use that information for illegal discriminatory purposes.