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National origin discrimination and the EEOC

One of the most seemingly straightforward types of discrimination that employees might face in California or other parts of the country is discrimination based on their national origin. As a proposed guidance issued in early June 2016 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission demonstrates, national origin discrimination may include far more types of actions than the workers and employers may understand, however.

According to the EEOC, national origin discrimination is an area of special focus for the agency. This means that claims involving it will be looked at more closely. The agency says that discrimination that is focused on the person's actual national origin as well as the employer's perception of a person belonging to a specific group or following a particular religion may be prohibited.

Employers are also warned that if they use staffing agencies that practice this type of discrimination, the employers may also be held liable for the discriminatory acts. Similarly, word-of-mouth recruiting in nondiverse areas is prohibited if the recruiting is done as a means to avoid hiring members of specific groups.

Workplace discrimination may take many forms. Some actions that appear okay on their face may be discriminatory if the actions have a disparate impact on members of protected groups. People who believe they have been the victims of discriminatory acts at work may want to consult with an employment law attorney. An attorney may be able to review what happened and then advise the workers about their employee rights. This could result in a claim being filed with the EEOC or appropriate state agency as a prelude to litigation.

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