National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace

Posted on Jun 18, 2019 by Brittany Carter

Under federal, state, and local laws, employers are prohibited from discriminating against their employees on the basis of national origin.

This means that your employer cannot use your nationality, ancestry, or certain traits related to your national origin in making employment-related decisions or as a reason to treat you less favorably than other employees.

If you are experiencing national origin discrimination in your workplace, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit or administrative complaint against your employer.

This article contains information about national origin discrimination laws but is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Only an experienced workplace discrimination lawyer can help you understand your rights.

What is National Origin?

The term “national origin” refers to traits related to the where a person or a person’s ancestors are from. These may include:

  • Place of birth;
  • Cultural or linguistic characteristics, such as an accent;
  • Name or spouse’s name associated with a national origin group;
  • Marriage to or association with individual(s) from a national origin group;
  • Membership in or association with an organization with a purpose related to a national origin group; and
  • Attendance or participation in schools or places of worship used by persons of a national origin group.

Which Laws Apply to National Origin Discrimination?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the primary federal law addressing national origin workplace discrimination. This federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Title VII has been the basis for many of the most important national origin employment discrimination cases and offers workers critical protections against discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

State and local laws also prohibit employment discrimination based on national origin or ancestry. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (or “PHRA”) is a state statute dealing with these types of claims.

In New Jersey, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (or “NJLAD”) prohibits workplace discrimination due to national origin and other protected traits.

Does Title VII Apply to All Employers?

Title VII applies to private, state, and local government employers with 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year.

Title VII also applies to labor unions, employment agencies, and federal government employers, but there are different rules that apply to claims involving these entities.

Even if your employer employs fewer than 15 employees, it may still be covered by Title VII based on the relationship between your employer and its affiliated companies and the number of employees of those companies. In some states, anti-discrimination statutes apply to employers regardless of size.

Examples of Workplace Discrimination Based on National Origin

There are many different ways an employer can discriminate based on national origins. Here are some examples:

  • A department store disciplines people with Asian surnames more severely than white employees when they miss work or are late for a shift.
  • A restaurant allows ethnic slurs against Latino workers and does not discipline white employees for posting offensive cartoons disparaging Mexican immigrants in the breakroom.
  • A call center won’t hire anyone who appears to be from the Middle East or Africa for customer service positions.
  • A Vietnamese restaurant hires only people with Asian features and surnames.

What Remedies are Available in a National Origin Workplace Discrimination Case?

If your employer has discriminated or retaliated against you in violation of Title VII, you may be entitled to:

  • Reinstatement of your job, compelled hiring, or compelled promotion;
  • Back pay, front pay, or other benefits;
  • Retroactive seniority;
  • Money damages; and/or
  • Attorneys’ fees.

How Can a Workplace Discrimination Lawyer Help?

Because workplace national origin discrimination laws are complex, only an experienced employment discrimination lawyer can determine whether you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer.

The workers’ rights attorneys at Console Mattiacci Law have years of experience fighting for the rights of employees who have suffered national origin discrimination in the workplace, and recently secured a multi-million dollar verdict for one of their clients.

To speak with a national origin discrimination lawyer about your case, call Console Mattiacci Law at (215) 545-7676.

Call the employment law attorneys at Console Mattiacci today at
(215) 545-7676 to schedule a consultation
for your case.

Contact Us

Don't Hesitate to contact us for a consultation.

Call us today to get the justice you deserve:


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.