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How does national origin discrimination manifest on the job?

National origin discrimination can occur in a workplace when employees or job applicants are treated unfavorably because they are from a particular country or region, because of their ethnicity, accent or an appearance that they are a member of a certain ethnic background.

This form of discrimination can affect various aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotions, job duties, wages, benefits and training. The manifestations of this type of mistreatment are often subtle, but not always.

Examples of this kind of mistreatment

Discrimination based on national origin can manifest right from the hiring process. Employers might prefer candidates of a certain national origin, either explicitly in job postings or implicitly through the hiring decisions they make. Similarly, termination or layoffs disproportionately affecting employees of a specific national origin also constitute discriminatory practices.

Employees might also face discrimination at work due to their accent or because they speak a language other than English. Policies requiring employees to speak only English at all times may also be discriminatory unless they are justified by a clear business necessity.

Discriminatory practices may also manifest in decisions related to promotions and job assignments. Employees of certain national origins may find themselves systematically passed over for promotions or given less desirable job assignments compared to their colleagues of different national origins.

Finally, a hostile work environment created by jokes, slurs, offensive remarks or visual displays targeting a specific national origin can also be a form of discrimination. Even if such behaviors are not directed toward specific individuals, they can create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment that is unlawful in nature.

Because national origin discrimination can manifest in so many different ways, it can be helpful for those who are being mistreated to seek personalized feedback about their unique circumstances. That way, they can place themselves in stronger positions to make informed decisions about their rights and options.