One aspect of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that doesn’t often receive that much attention is discrimination based on a person’s national origin. As you could probably guess from the term “national origin,” this particular subset of discrimination involves the unfavorable treatment of a person because they hail from a certain country or part of the world. It can also involve a person’s accent or ethnic appearance.
Seeing as how America is often touted as the “Great Melting Pot,” one would assume that discrimination of this sort would be uncommon. However, national origin discrimination unfortunately persists as the ethnic makeup of our country continues to rapidly evolve.
In recent years, persons of Arab descent have quickly become a prominent target of discrimination in the American workplace. Take for example the case of EEOC v. Rizza Cadillac. The facts of this case show that three Arab Muslim employees working for a car dealership in Illinois were subjected to incredibly offensive and hateful treatment from the dealership’s management. Managers often used offensive slurs when speaking to the employees, calling them “terrorists”, “sand n—-ers”, and “Hezbollah” (a reference to the group labeled as a terrorist organization by the U.S. Government). The employees were also ostracized by their managers about the Qur’an and the manner in which Muslims pray.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission brought suit against the dealership on behalf of the employees, alleging hostile work environment on the basis of national origin and religion. Before trial, the dealership settled with the EEOC for a sum of $100,000.00 to be provided to the employees.
This case demonstrates a hopeful step forward for the issue of national origin discrimination, but also exposes the fact that national origin discrimination still exists. If you feel that you’ve been discriminated against or subjected to a hostile work environment because of your national origin, you should seek the advice of counsel immediately to learn about the legal options that are available to you.
H/t: Workplace Prof Blog.