Workplace harassment, unfortunately, takes many forms. You may face discrimination because of your age, race, beliefs or the country you are from. The latter of these — national origin — is, in fact, a common motivation for discriminatory actions in the workplace. If your colleagues or employers mock your nationality or assumed nationality, you are dealing with an unacceptable problem.
A person’s national origin is a protected status under the Equal Employment Opportunity act, though. This means that harassment like this is legally actionable. Still, many victims have questions about their rights. The following are three of the most common misconceptions about discrimination on the basis of national origin.
Nicknames cannot constitute harassment
A common misconception in the workplace which enables discrimination and harassment is the idea that nicknames and jokes are harmless. Anything derogatorily referencing national origin should not be spoken. Many people think that they cannot be held accountable for something said in jest, but the tone of a comment is less important than its content. It is the responsibility of every person in the workplace to ensure their words are respectful.
Undocumented workers cannot make a claim
According to CNN, undocumented workers — especially women — face a specific set of challenges in the workplace. Many of them face discrimination but believe that they cannot do anything because of their legal status. While such workers cannot seek reinstatement after termination, they can seek any unpaid wages as well as damages for the discrimination they endured while at the job.
Employers can require that employees only speak English
Employers may dictate that employees only speak English if they are able to sustain its necessity to the business. Many people have limited fluency in English, though, yet are entirely capable and qualified for positions they apply for. If an employer arbitrarily demands that only English be spoken, it could constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin.