by Pepper Hamilton LLP
Originally publisher: January 9, 2017
Q: What does it mean to discriminate against someone based on their national origin?
A: Title VII prohibits employers from acting in a way that would have the purpose or effect or discriminating against an employee because of his or her national origin.
But what does the term “discrimination based on national origin” really mean?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently issued an Enforcement Guidance on this subject. Although the EEOC’s position at times is broader than controlling case law, the Enforcement Guidance is helpful because it offers insight into how the EEOC will investigate claims of alleged national origin discrimination in the future. It is significant that 11 percent of EEOC Charges filed in 2015 contained an allegation of national origin discrimination.
According to the EEOC, national origin discrimination means discrimination because an individual (or his or her ancestors) is from a certain place or has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular ethnic group. National origin discrimination often overlaps with race, color, or religious discrimination because a national origin group may be associated with (or, according to the EEOC, perceived to be associated with) a particular religion or race.