Standing Up Against Ethnicity DiscriminationOctober 26, 2015
Discrimination based on ethnicity or national origin happens in every country across the globe and has been a significant issue throughout history. Oftentimes ethnicity discrimination is fueled by conflicts between nations and groups, misunderstanding of culture, the generalization of populations, the need for power and general ignorance. Since the U.S. entered into conflict with the Middle East in the early 2000s there has been an increase in ethnic discrimination targeted towards people from this region living in the U.S.
The EEOC even states, “Anger at those responsible for the tragic events of September 11 should not be misdirected against innocent individuals because of their religion, ethnicity, or country of origin.” The EEOC goes on to say, “At this time, employers and unions should be particularly sensitive to potential discrimination or harassment against individuals who are — or are perceived to be — Muslim, Arab, Afghani, Middle Eastern or South Asian (Pakistani, Indian, etc.).”
While ethnic discrimination is a broad and vast issue affecting millions, it is severely damaging to those affected by it. According to research done by Mt. Sinai Hospital, “Race/ethnic discrimination is associated with poorer mental and physical health, worse health behaviors, and increased mortality, in addition to overall race/ethnic disparities in health.”
What the Law Says
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination based on religion, national origin, race, color, or sex is unlawful. This includes any aspect of employment, such as hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. Furthermore, “an English only rule, which requires employees to speak only English on the job, is only allowed if it is needed to ensure the safe or efficient operation of the employer’s business and is put in place for nondiscriminatory reasons,” says the EEOC.
It is important to know that the statute of limitations on filing a discrimination claim is only 180 days. So if you believe you are dealing with discrimination in the workplace, it is important that you contact a lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help you determine if your case is viable and offer you advice on next steps.
Recent Examples of Ethnic Discrimination in the News
Although unlawful, discrimination based on ethnicity and national origin is common. It doesn’t take long to find example after example of businesses across every sector failing to abide by ethnicity discrimination laws.
The Hill reported recently, that the Department of Transportation is accusing Kuwait Airlines of discrimination against an Israeli passenger after the airline allegedly refused to sell him a ticket due to his ethnicity. As reported in The Hill, “’Any airline that wishes to operate in the U.S. should know that we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind in our skies,’ Anthony Foxx [Transportation Secretary] said in a statement.”
In Miami, Debora Velasquez is suing her former employer, Glaser Organic Farms, claiming they created a hostile work environment for her and other Hispanic workers because of their nationality. Velasquez says her manager made derogatory and racial comments, calling her names such as “the chocolate one,” “negra,” “burro,” and commenting on how lazy Mexicans are. The suit has been filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In Cleveland, Fifth Third Bank has been accused of discriminating against black and Hispanic consumers, “charging some higher interest rates on auto loans with no justification related to credit-worthiness, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Monday afternoon,” according to Cleveland.com. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency ordered Fifth Third Bank to pay a total of $21 million to minority auto loan and credit card customers.
What to Do if You Are Being Discriminated Against
If you believe you are being discriminated against, in addition to hiring a lawyer, you should:
- Write everything down. You should take notes on every incident of discrimination that occurs including time, place, people involved and the overall situation. The more detail you include the easier it will be for you to prove your case down the road.
- Talk to a manager. Or human resources. If you make an internal complaint the company should investigate and try to amend the situation. If they do not and the discrimination continues, you will have documentation that you went to higher ups within your company about the situation and nothing was done.
- File a complaint with the EEOC or your state agency. If you intend to move forward with a lawsuit you must first file with the EEOC or your state agency prior to filing. Once you file a complaint with a government agency your case will be investigated. If it cannot be resolved your next step will be to file a lawsuit.
- File a lawsuit. This is your final step. If you haven’t already, you should hire a lawyer.
No matter why, where or how it happens, discriminating against someone based on their ethnicity or national origin is immoral and unlawful. If you believe you are being discriminated against because of your ethnicity you need an experienced workplace lawyer who knows the law and can help you stand up for your rights. It is important to note that while there are Federal laws that protect workers from discrimination, there are also specific state laws that vary by state.
At Sherman Law we specialize in employment law and discrimination in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, helping to protect workers from discriminatory practices. Contact us today for a free consultation.