You have the right to be treated equally regardless of your national origin. National origin discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because he or she (or his or her ancestors) is from a certain place or has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular national origin group. Though your employer is prohibited from hiring individuals who aren’t authorized to work, it can’t discriminate based on national origin – regardless of immigration status or authorization to work. Your employer can’t require you to speak a language fluently or proficiently unless it’s necessary to perform your job effectively. Your employer can’t base employment decisions on your accent unless it seriously interferes with your job performance. It’s discriminatory for your employer to take an employment action in response to the discriminatory preferences of others, such as customers or coworkers.

It’s also illegal for your employer to have a particular policy or practice, even if it applies to everyone, if it has a negative impact on people of a certain national origin unless the employer shows that it is job-related and necessary for safe and efficient job performance or business operations.

You have the right to file a complaint or a Charge of Discrimination, participate in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or oppose harassment or discrimination without being retaliated against by your employer.

What this means for you

Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you because of:

  • your or your ancestor’s place of origin,
  • your ethnicity,
  • your accent or language fluency, or
  • your marriage or association with a person of a certain national origin.

Discrimination can occur when you and the person who discriminated against you are the same national origin.

Examples of discrimination

In general, this means that you cannot be:

  • fired,
  • rejected for a job or promotion,
  • given lesser assignments,
  • forced to take leave, or
  • otherwise disciplined

because of your national origin.

Questions? We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your rights as a worker. Many questions about your rights may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors:

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) of the U.S. Department of Justice work together to coordinate investigations of complaints.

For additional assistance, please contact:

Learn about filing a complaint

We’ll help you decide what to do next and determine whether filing a complaint is the best course of action. You must file a complaint within a certain timeframe to take further legal action, so it is best to begin the process early.

Please note that it is illegal for your employer to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against you for reporting an issue to OFCCP, EEOC or IER.

File with OFCCP

File with EEOC

File with IER