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National Origin Discrimination Under California Labor Laws

Find An California Employment Attorney for National Origin Discrimination

Whether you're an immigrant or on a worker's visa, your employer cannot discriminate against you on the grounds of national origin. California Employment Laws protect your worker's rights and consider the act illegal. Consult a Labor Law Attorney in California to file claims.

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What Qualifies as National Origin Discrimination in California?

Discrimination based on national origin means treating people (applicants or workers) unfairly because they are from a specific country or region of race or dialect. This can also be applicable when the discrimination is rooted in an employee appearing to be (or employer assumed they are) of a particular ethnic heritage, even if they are not.

Discrimination based on national origin can also entail treating somebody unfairly because they are married to (or affiliated with) someone from that country.

How Do I Know If I'm Being Discriminated Against at Work?

You must be vigilant because discrimination can be overt or hidden. If you're suspicious of bias, chances are you've already noticed symptoms of it at work.

There are a few things to keep an eye out for:

  1. The use of derogatory remarks. Slurs can be one of the most visible signs of prejudice based on national origin. Consider going to HR and documenting these situations if you detect your coworkers or boss using them on you.

  2. You're not getting promoted, even when you deserve it. Even if you've worked hard, you may find that some of your coworkers (who you believe deserve it less than you) are getting promoted while you're being passed over again and again.

  3. Your employer or hiring team refuses to hire you. You may have spotted some indicators, or they may have stated flatly that your national origin is one of the reasons they are unable to recruit you. This is a violation of the law, and you have cause for a discrimination claim if it occurs.

  4. Your boss or HR department is dismissing your complaints about a toxic workplace. When coworkers treat you badly, the first thing you should do is report them to your employer or HR. You may have a claim if they continue to dismiss your complaints.

  5. You are being watched more closely than your coworkers. You may observe that your coworkers make the same mistakes or work the same hours as you, yet you're the one who is continuously told to perform better.

  6. You're being punished for filing a complaint with HR. This may occur if your company penalizes you (e.g., demotes, reduces your pay, or reassigns you) for filing an HR complaint about workplace gender discrimination. Furthermore, if your employer retaliates after you filed a complaint, you may have a claim for retaliation in California.

  7. You were fired based on national origin discrimination. You should file a claim right away if you believe you were fired due to discrimination. This is most definitely a case of Wrongful Termination, so consult your California Employment Attorney.

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Can I Cite Company Policies as Discriminatory?


According to California law, it is illegal for an employer or other agency to use an employment policy or procedure that is available to all people, regardless of national origin, if it has a negative impact on people of that national origin and is not connected to, or required for, the enterprise's operation.

Consider the following company policy examples below:

Scenario #1: Can an Employer Impose an Employee to Speak Fluent English?

Only if it is necessary to protect the company's security or operations, is an "English-only rule" forcing workers to speak only English in the workplace tolerated. Otherwise, they shouldn't—especially if the job description doesn't require native-level English skills.

Additionally, an employer cannot make a hiring choice based on a foreign accent unless the accent significantly affects the employee's job performance.

Scenario #2: What Does California Law Say About Citizenship Status Discrimination?

The 1986 IRCA Act (Immigration Reform and Control Act) prohibits employers from discriminating based on a person's citizenship or immigration status in hiring, firing, or recruiting.

  • Employers are prohibited from hiring solely U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents unless they are authorized to do so by laws, policy, or government contracts.

  • Employers cannot refuse to recognize valid documentation that confirms an employee's employment eligibility or request additional documentation beyond what is legally required to verify them.

For any other unique circumstances, consult with your California Employment Attorney. Not all discrimination cases are the same, after all.

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What Kinds of Proof Does a National Origin Discrimination Claim in California Require?

Because discrimination can be overt or covert, you should keep track of all interactions that have the potential to be discriminatory. Here are some things to think about gathering:

  1. Photos and videos. Keep track of any slurs, bad behavior, or unpleasant treatment you've received. Remember to be cautious when photographing or filming other individuals, as it may exacerbate arguments or tensions, putting you in danger.

  2. Electronic communications. Keep track of any emails, chats, or texts that appear to be biased against women. Take screenshots of the chat rooms and save all of your emails in one place for convenient access. (Pay attention to the correspondence's language as well. They don't need to use slurs to be discriminatory.)

  3. Pay stubs, written warnings, etc. These records can show that your employer cut your pay, demoted you, or threatened you with penalty or retaliation without cause. In any case, these can create a hostile work atmosphere, making it difficult for you to do your duties.

If you're having trouble gathering evidence yourself, you should consider hiring a California Employment Law Attorney to help you investigate your claim.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Discrimination Claim?

If you have a discrimination claim in California, approach the Fair Employment and Housing Act first (FEHA). They can either handle your case for you or provide you with "the right to sue," allowing you to file your complaint with a California Labor Law Attorney.

To make a complaint, you have one year from the day of the most recent discriminatory act.

Find An National Origin Discrimination Attorney in California

No win, no fees! can help you find a Contingency Lawyer for your Employment Cases in California. You can complete our submission form for a free case review.


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