National origin discrimination #23
by Ross Runkel at LawMemo
Title VII prohibits discrimination "because of" "national origin." Most states have statutes that have similar language.
What does "national origin" mean under Title VII? It means the country from which a person came, or from which that person's ancestors came.
"National origin" is often confused with "citizenship," but they are two different concepts. A person can be a US citizen and have Polish national origin. A person can be a citizen of Mexico and have Mexican national origin or Cuban national origin. If someone is labeled a "Mexican" or "Japanese" it is hard to know whether that refers to the person's citizenship or national origin. Or perhaps both.
"National origin" is sometimes confused with "race." If someone is labeled a "Mexican" or "Japanese" it is hard to know whether that refers to the person's race or national origin. Or perhaps both.
So, national origin discrimination is treating people in a different manner because of where they or their ancestors came from.
About 10 percent of the charges filed with the EEOC involve claims of national origin discrimination.
The EEOC puts it this way:
National origin discrimination means treating someone less favorably because he or she comes from a particular place, because of his or her ethnicity or accent, or because it is believed that he or she has a particular ethnic background. National origin discrimination also means treating someone less favorably at work because of marriage or other association with someone of a particular nationality.
National origin harassment is a form of national origin discrimination.
BFOQ. In rare cases an employer can defend a case of national origin discrimination on the ground that it is a "bona fide occupational qualification."
Coming next: Religion discrimination #24: Employment Law 101
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