National origin

You have protections against discrimination.

You have the right to protections against discrimination based on your national origin. National origin discrimination involves treating individuals unfavorably because they (or their ancestors) are from a certain place or has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular national origin group. Though your employers are prohibited from hiring individuals who aren’t authorized to work, they 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 consistent with business necessity. And discrimination can also occur when you and the person who discriminated against you share a protected characteristic like national origin.

Male African American office worker reacts negatively to bad news. Stressed employee intern suffering from gender discrimination or unfair criticism. Shot of a young businessman experiencing stress

You have the right to file a complaint or a Charge of Discrimination, participate in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit, engage in any protected equal employment opportunity (EEO) activity, 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.

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.

Additional resources

Need more information?
The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under Federal employment laws.