Federal officials have released a report, which shows that more and more people in the workforce are claiming discrimination over their English speaking ability or foreign accents. According to a news report in The Associated Press, workplace discrimination complaints based on national origin, which often involve English language speaking ability, rose by a whopping 76 percent from 1997 to 2011. During this time, officials say, more than 11,800 complaints were lodged with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The commission is attributing the trend to a more ethnically diverse labor force. About 45 million people in the United States speak a language other than English at home. Recently a FedEx contract driver sued his employer saying that he was fired because of his Russian accent. In Arizona, an Iraqi hotel worker filed a lawsuit stating that his co-workers mocked his accent and called him derogatory names. Also, in California, dozens of Filipino hospital workers won a nearly $1 million settlement after claiming that they were harassed for their foreign accent.
National Origin Discrimination
All workers, regardless of nationality, are entitled to the same employment opportunities as anyone else. This is federal law. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant because of his or her national origin. No one can be denied equal employment opportunity because of his or her birthplace, ancestry, culture, linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group – in other words their accent. In addition to prohibiting discrimination based on national origin, Title VII also prohibits offensive conduct such as ethnic slurs that create a hostile work environment.
Protecting Your Rights
It is sad and unfortunate that these types of discrimination are increasing in today’s growing atmosphere of hostility toward undocumented immigrants. For some workers, the harassment at work becomes so intolerable that they quit their jobs. Anyone who quits his or her job as a result of unfair treatment based on national origin may have an employment claim. In such cases, the plaintiff must prove that discrimination took place and that the cause for termination of employment was discrimination or harassment. An experienced California employment lawyer will fight hard for the victim’s rights and ensure that he or she gets justice and fair compensation.