Workplace Rights

Weekly (5/17/21)

Topic of the Week  National Origin Discrimination

Whether an employee or job applicant's ancestry is Mexican, Russian, Filipino, Iranian, American Indian, or any other nationality, individuals are entitled to equal access to employment opportunities. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of national origin. This law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It forbids discrimination based upon an individual's birthplace, ancestry, culture, linguistic characteristics (common to a specific group) or accent. It also applies to individuals married to or associated with persons of a particular national origin, membership or association with specific ethnic promotion groups, attendance or participation in schools, churches, temples, or mosques associated with a national original group, or a surname associated with a national origin group.

1. Can an employer choose employees of one national origin over another?

In some limited circumstances, employers are allowed to prefer one national origin to another. This is allowed only when national origin is what is called a "bona fide occupational qualification" for the position, which means that belonging to a certain national origin is necessary for the job.

For example, being of Latin origin might be a bona fide occupational qualification for a role in a movie featuring a Cuban family. Circumstances in which preferences for one national origin are allowed are very rare. The employer must be able to demonstrate the position has special qualifications that only members of one national origin can fulfill.

2. Can I be asked if I am a citizen?

An employer should not ask about your citizenship status during a job interview. The employer can only notify you as a job applicant that, should a job be offered to you, you will be expected to provide evidence that you are legally entitled to work in the US within the first three days of starting work. The employer should say this to every job candidate, as saying this selectively may be illegal discrimination.

3. I am a non-citizen with valid work papers. Can I be denied employment because my employer prefers to hire only citizens?

Generally not. A "U.S. citizens only" policy in hiring is illegal. An employer may require U.S. citizenship for a particular job only if it is required by federal, state, or local law, or by government contract.

Thought of the Week

"Standing up to anti-Asian racism is a role for both governments and for society, and it will challenge our perceptions and require allyship to bring about attention and change."

–Lisa Wong | Town Manager

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Nikkei ASIA

    • In the U.S. alone, 1,497 discrimination complaints were filed from March 19 to April 15, according to the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action
    • New York and California accounted for the majority of the complaints; 40% of the victims identified themselves as ethnically Chinese; and 69% were women.
    • NextShark, a news website focusing on Asian stories, has reported a steady stream of abusive comments in the U.S. and abroad, from "Get out of the country!" to far worse


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