Understanding National Origin Discrimination – Part 2

by Zelle LLP
Contact

Last week, we discussed the definition of national origin discrimination and the requirements imposed on employers by state and federal law. Today’s post provides examples of workplace issues involving workers’ national origin, and provides points for employers to consider as they manage national origin issues in the workplace.
Examples
National origin discrimination claims can arise from lots of different circumstances. A fairly classic set of facts is presented in a November 2016 suit brought by the EEOC. The agency alleges that a temporary staffing firm segregated Latino workers in less desirable, more hazardous positions, paid them less, and provided fewer hours than their non-Hispanic counterparts. When the Latino workers complained about ongoing harassment including ethnic slurs, threats, and verbal abuse, the staffing firm did nothing.
In 2015, the EEOC brought suit against National Tire & Battery in a case involving facts that have become more common since 9/11. The suit alleged that managers and coworkers regularly called an Arab Muslim mechanic “Taliban,” “al-Qaeda,” “bin Laden,” and “terrorist” and accused him of making bombs. The mechanic complained repeatedly to management, but the company did nothing to stop the harassment. The case eventually settled for $22,500. In a similar case, the EEOC charged that a car dealership in Illinois subjected three Arab Muslim employees to a hostile work environment, alleging that the dealership’s managers used offensive slurs such as “terrorist” and “Hezbollah” and made mocking and insulting references to the Qur’an and the manner in which Muslims pray. That case was settled for $100,000.
Many claims of discrimination based on national origin involve allegations that an employee was instructed to speak—or not speak—a particular language. Just a few weeks ago, the EEOC announced that Kevothermal, a manufacturer of vacuum insulation panels, agreed to pay $60,000 and change its practices in order to settle a lawsuit in which it was alleged that a Hispanic employee was instructed not to speak Spanish on the production floor, although it was part of her job to translate for other employees who only spoke Spanish. In another case, the EEOC sued a Wisconsin plastics company for firing a group of Hmong and Hispanic employees based on 10-minute observations that marked them down for English skills, even though those skills were not needed to perform their jobs.
In a particularly interesting case, Hispanic employees sued Target for national origin discrimination based in part on the company’s distribution of an internal memo with “Multi-Cultural Tips” for managers, which included reminders that not all employees eat tacos and wear sombreros. The suit also alleged that supervisors, who were nearly all Caucasians, frequently used racial slurs with Hispanic employees. Target apologized for the tip sheet, but we can’t find any reports on the outcome of this litigation.
National origin discrimination claims can result in significant financial consequences for employers. In 2015, Patterson-UTI Drilling agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle a class-action suit alleging a nationwide pattern of discrimination on the company’s oil rigs. The drilling company was accused of assigning minorities to the lowest level jobs, failing to train and promote minorities, and disciplining and demoting minority employees disproportionately. Hispanic employees said they were subject to racial slurs that escalated to physical harassment.
Management
The EEOC has made national origin discrimination a particular priority. In 2016, EEOC chair Jenny Yang said that the EEOC “has identified protecting immigrant, migrant, and other vulnerable populations as a national strategic priority.” In addition to its recently published enforcement guidance, the EEOC recently published another guidance tool titled “What You Should Know About Religious and National Origin Discrimination Against Those Who Are, or Are Perceived to Be, Muslim or Middle Eastern.” The agency included in its Strategic Enforcement Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2021 the emerging priority of addressing backlash discrimination against those who are Muslim or Sikh, or persons of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent, and persons perceived to be members of these groups. If the EEOC is concerned about this, employers should be too. Here are some suggestions for employer action:
  • Educate HR professionals, managers and supervisors about legal requirements and the definition of national origin discrimination. They are an employer’s eyes and ears in the workplace, and can recognize issues before they escalate into problems.
  • Establish and enforce a zero-tolerance policy for harassment based on national origin. Investigate claims and discipline offenders.
  • Scrutinize hiring policies and practices to identify and eliminate those which discourage, screen out, or segregate applicants and employees based on national origin.
  • Be extremely wary of English-only policies and English fluency requirements, adopting only those that are based on verifiable business necessity.
  • Never allow customer preference to result in discriminatory policies and practices.
 

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Zelle LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Zelle  LLP
Contact
more
less

Zelle LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.