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What is "national origin" discrimination in Washington, D.C.?

One of the wonderful things about the United States is the ability of a person from another country to be able to immigrate to the U.S. and eventually become an American citizen. Many immigrants and the generations thereafter who are born in the United States are hard workers. Unfortunately, some people in Washington, D.C., are discriminated against in the workplace due to their national origin. National origin discrimination can be based on a person's accent, looks or even simply because the worker was born in another country.

It is against U.S. law to discriminate based on national origin with regards to offering a person a job, letting a person go from a job, paying a person for a job, promoting a person in a job or offering a person job benefits, among other facets of being employed. It is also against U.S. law to harass a person based on national origin. For example, a person cannot make statements that are derogatory or otherwise offensive based on another worker's national origin. In order for harassment to violate U.S. law, it must rise to the extent of establishing a hostile workplace or it results in the victim losing his or her job, or otherwise being treated unfairly in the workplace.

In addition, when it comes to establishing workplace rules, it is against U.S. law for employers to create workplace rules that adversely treat those of a particular national origin. For example, depending on the situation, an employer may not demand that all employees be fluent in English, unless it is absolutely vital to business operations and the intent behind the policy is not based on discrimination.

Any discrimination in the workplace can have a negative effect on a worker's life, both on-the-job and off-the-job. Those who do feel they have been discriminated against in the workplace based on their national origin may want to get more information in order to assess the situation and determine the potential legal options.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "National Origin Discrimination," accessed Sept. 6, 2015

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