Ethnicity Discrimination in the Workplace

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The Legal Environment of Business

G. McCracken

Ethnicity Discrimination in the Workplace

This essay discusses ethnicity discrimination in the workplace, more specifically language discrimination on the basis of national origin. National origin discrimination in the workplace occurs when a company makes employment decisions based on a person’s origins, birthplace, culture, surname, language or accent. The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, national origin, race, color, or sex. The law's prohibitions include harassment or any other employment action based on any of the following: affiliation, physical or cultural traits and clothing, perception and association. Besides employment decisions, other common violations covered under Title VII include harassment and language discrimination. The types of language discrimination are accent discrimination, English fluency and English-only rules. Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, race, color, religion, disability, gender, and marital status. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting national origin discrimination make it illegal to discriminate because of a person's birthplace, ancestry, culture or language. Therefore, people cannot be denied equal employment opportunity because they are from another country, because they have a name or accent associated with a national origin group, because their cultural traits are associated with a national origin group, or because they are married to or associate with people of a certain national origin. Discrimination can be defined as treating someone less favorable than other because it is believed that the person has a particular ethnic background. Potentially unlawful national origin discrimination includes affiliation, physical or cultural traits and clothing, perception and association. Discrimination by affiliation occurs when an individual is harassed or discriminated because he/she is affiliated with a particular religious or ethnic group, for instance a Mexican individual is paid less than other non-Mexican workers. Physical or cultural traits and clothing discrimination occurs when people is harassed or discriminated because of their physical appearance, cultural customs, accent, or the way they dress. For instance, a Muslin practitioner is harassed by coworkers for wearing a head-scarf. Perception discrimination occurs when a person is harassed or discriminated because of the perception or belief that the person belongs to an ethnic or religious group, even if he/she is not. For example, a Chinese person is harassed by a coworker who believes he/she is Vietnamese. Association discrimination occurs when people is harassed or discriminated because their association with a person or organization of a particular ethnic or religious group. For instance, a person is negated promotion because he/she attends a mosque. An employer violates the law when it makes employment decisions such as hiring, firing, promoting, layoffs, compensation, or job training, based on national origin. It is also committing discrimination when it promotes or allows offensive conduct that creates a hostile work environment based on national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shows some examples of national origin discrimination. On EEOC v. General Cable Corp, two workers from Ghana were terminated after they complained their Hispanic supervisor “subjected them to overly intrusive supervision, threatened and charged them with undeserved discipline, and tried to deny authorized overtime.” The affected workers received financial compensation, and the company agreed to provide antidiscrimination training to managers and to institute and post a policy for reporting complaints of discrimination.

Language Issues

As the U.S. labor force has grown more ethnically diverse, the number of workers who are...
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