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"Hispanic" is national origin discrimination under Title VII
July 20, 2007 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

Francisco Salas sued his former employer, asserting (among other things) a Title VII national origin discrimination claim.

Salas alleged that he was subjected to national origin discrimination based upon his status as a Hispanic.

A primary issue on appeal was whether this allegation was sufficient to support a claim of national origin discrimination. Noting that there is confusion among the federal courts about what constitutes national origin (versus race) discrimination under Title VII, the 7th Circuit held that it was.

Salas v. Wisconsin Dept of Corrections (7th Cir 07/18/2007)

In Espinoza v. Farah Manufacturing Co., 414 US 86 (1973), the United States Supreme Court recognized that national origin "refers to the country where a person was born, or, more broadly, the country from which his or her ancestors came." The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines national origin discrimination to include the denial of employment opportunities because of an individual's (or his ancestor's) place of origin "or because an individual has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group." 29 CFR Section 1606.1.

The 7th Circuit concluded that "[a]lthough the EEOC does not define the term 'national origin group,' Hispanics would qualify as such a group."

Ultimately, however, the court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer on other grounds.

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