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November 21, 2016: EEOC Issues Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

On Monday, November 21, 2016, the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an updated guidance on national origin discrimination. This new Guidance replaces the 2002 version of Section 13 of the EEOC’s Compliance Manual. The new Guidance defines national origin discrimination as “discrimination because an individual (or his or her ancestors) is from a certain place or has the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular national origin group.” The EEOC further made clear in the new Guidance that discriminating against an individual based on a belief that they are a member of a certain group, because of their association with someone of a particular national origin, or because of their citizenship also constitutes national origin discrimination which is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The new Guidance further reminds employers that harassment on the basis of national origin is likewise prohibited by Title VII. In addition to the new Guidance, the EEOC issued a short question-and-answer sheet and a small business fact sheet that highlight the major points of the new Guidance in plain language. The purpose of the new Guidance is to update the EEOC’s Compliance Manual to reflect important legal developments over the past fourteen (14) years on issues relating to workplace discrimination and harassment. The EEOC was motivated to issue the new Guidance because of the increasing number of national origin discrimination and harassment charges filed. In FY2015, about eleven percent (11%) of the near 90,000 private sector charges filed with the EEOC alleged national origin discrimination. Thirty-seven percent (37%) of those charges alleged national origin harassment. National origin harassment occurs when workplace harassment predicated on membership or association with a particular ethnic group becomes so “severe or pervasive that it alters the terms and conditions of the individual’s employment” by creating a hostile working environment. In the new Guidance the EEOC cites that repeatedly calling a Pakistani employee a “camel jockey” or “the local terrorist” may constitute national origin harassment under Title VII. The Law Offices of Elizabeth “Booka” Smith, LLC has significant experience representing employees before the EEOC and the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) in national origin discrimination and harassment cases. If you believe you are the victim of illegal workplace national origin discrimination or harassment, CONTACT US to schedule an appointment to discuss potential legal representation.

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