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What is national origin discrimination?
  • National origin discrimination is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Regardless of ancestry, each employee or job applicant is entitled to the same employment opportunities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal prohibition against national origin discrimination in employment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers employers with 15 or more employees.

Discrimination includes treating someone less favorably because:

  • They come from a particular place,
  • Their ethnicity or accent,
  • They are believed to have a particular ethnic background, or
  • They are married to or associated with someone of a particular nationality.

Examples of violations covered under Title VII include:

  • Making employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, and promotion, based on national origin;
  • Offensive conduct, such as ethnic slurs, that creates a hostile work environment;
  • Basing a decision on an employee’s foreign accent unless it materially interferes with job performance;
  • Imposing English-fluency requirements where not required for the effective performance of the position; and
  • Setting English-only rules, other than when they are needed to promote the safe or efficient operation of the employer’s business.

National origin discrimination is also prohibited under the law that requires employers to complete an I-9 Form.