The definition of “national origin discrimination” is quite straightforward. It means unfavorable and unfair treatment of job applicants and employees on the basis of their national origin, ethnicity, accent or ethnic background.
And yet so many people in Los Angeles and all across California have misconceptions about this type of discrimination and end up tolerating unlawful and hostile behavior by their employers and coworkers when they could and should be taking legal action against the person who discriminates against them.
For that reason, we decided to invite our Los Angeles discrimination attorney from the JML Law to outline some of the most common myths and facts surrounding national origin discrimination in California.
Myth: You are eligible to file a discrimination lawsuit against the person who discriminated against you only if you are from the country or region upon which the discrimination is based. This is one of the most widespread misconceptions about national origin discrimination, as you can actually sue the person who discriminated against you even if you are not originally from the country or region you are perceived to be from.
Myth: An investigation conducted internally by the company makes it immune from a discrimination lawsuit. This is a false misconception, as you still have the right to sue the employer for failing to ensure a safe and discrimination-free work environment even if the company conducted an investigation into the matter.
Myth: Giving employees a nickname associated with a certain region, country, or national origin is not illegal. “It is illegal,” says our experienced discrimination attorney in Los Angeles. “While giving someone a nickname may seem harmless, this does not change the fact that this behavior constitutes discrimination.”
Myth: If you are being discriminated against by someone of the same national origin or from a neighboring country, you will not be able to file a discrimination lawsuit in California. False. In reality, you can sue the person who discriminated against you based on your national origin regardless of that person’s own national origin or ethnic background.
Myth: Every employer in California has a legal right to enforce English only policy in the workplace. Not really. Under California’s employment law, it is not unlawful for employers to require employees to speak only English at work as long as they can demonstrate proof that speaking other languages in the workplace will disrupt the efficient operation of the business. When speaking only English at work is not a business necessity, English-only policies are considered discriminatory and unlawful.
Myth: You cannot sue your employer or coworker for national origin discrimination if you are an undocumented worker. Under California’s law, you may be entitled to unpaid wages and could potentially recover compensation for any forms of discrimination and harassment on the basis of national origin when you are an undocumented worker.
Myth: U.S. laws make it impossible to sue foreign-born employers, and you can bring a discrimination lawsuit only against companies owned by U.S. citizens. It makes sense why people believe in this myth, but it is nonetheless a misconception. If a company runs its business in the U.S., it must comply with our country’s federal and state laws. Therefore, you can sue foreign-born employers and coworkers as long as your Los Angeles discrimination attorney can prove that you were discriminated against in the workplace.