National Origin Discrimination Lawyers in New York City
In New York, like any other city in the United States, it’s illegal to be discriminated against based on your nationality or perceived national origin. Despite nearly 40% of New Yorkers being foreign-born, incidents requiring the intervention of national origin discrimination attorneys remain far too common.
What Is National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace?
National origin discrimination refers to an incident where individuals, whether job applicants or employees, are discriminated against because of their nationality or presumed nationality. Some may even be discriminated against based on their accent, language, or affiliation to a particular group of people.
New York State Laws on National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
New York state laws are clear on the issue of national origin discrimination in the workplace. Employers cannot discriminate against a job applicant or employee in firing, hiring, or other employment terms and conditions based fully or partly upon their national origin. These same law apply to race discrimination by employers, however the circumstances are significantly different.
Similarly, employers cannot recruit employees by excluding or discouraging applicants of a particular national origin.
In 2019, the New York City Commission on Human Rights released new guidelines on discrimination based on immigrant status and national origin. The guideline was designed to prevent and reduce national origin discrimination, particularly in the workplace.
The new guidelines mainly focused on citizenship and’ work authorization’ status, which have been one of the main reasons behind national origin discrimination in Long Island and the entire New York.
Here’s an overview of the key points addressed by the guideline:
- Employers cannot discriminate among work-authorized individuals, including citizens, refugees, permanent residents, asylees, and even those granted temporary status unless explicitly permitted or required by law.
- Employers cannot apply selectiveness in drafting job interview questions related to work authorization. Such questions must be applied uniformly to all applicants based on the applicant’s perceived or actual immigration status or national origin.
- Employers who employ workers without work authorization cannot mistreat those workers based on their immigration status.
- Employers cannot practice ‘document abuse.’ This refers to requesting documents that aren’t required to establish work authorization (e.g., birth certificates and green cards).
- Employers are required to accept documents listed under the ‘List of Acceptable Documents‘ as established by federal law on Form 1-9.
- Employers may not re-verify an employee’s work authorization except in limited, specified circumstances.
- Employers cannot take any adverse action against an application or employee based on a ‘No-Match Letter‘ from the Social Security Administration.
- Suppose Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents visit a particular workplace without a warrant signed by a judge. In that case, employers may deny them access to non-public facing areas of their workplace.
- Similarly, employers may not threaten their foreign employees with ICE involvement to harass, retaliate or intimidate against them.
- The NYCHRL prohibits using terms such as ‘illegals’ or ‘illegal aliens’ to describe foreign or undocumented workers.
This guideline further explains certain examples of specific incidents that violate NYCHRL. They include:
- Granting workers varying breaks due to their immigration or employment authorization status.
- Threatening to contact ICE if a worker attends a medical appointment deemed necessary.
- Declining a Social Security card or requesting a birth certificate as proof of authorization or nationality based on an employee’s or applicant’s accent.
- Prohibiting hotel housekeepers from speaking Spanish as they conduct their duties because it might make non-Spanish speaking guests uncomfortable.
- Referring to a No-Match letter as an excuse to terminate the employment of an otherwise qualified worker.
- Providing workers first priority in scheduling based on their nationality to the disadvantage of workers from outside the United States or any other nationality.
Types of National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
National origin discrimination varies from one workplace to another. These statistics further demonstrate why such cases are, unfortunately, common in New York.
- About 3.2 New York City residents were born outside of the US, amounting to at least 37% of the city’s population.
- More than 1.4 million residents of New York City are non-US citizens, amounting to at least 16% of the city’s population.
- More than 50% of children in New York City have an immigrant parent.
- At least 60% of New Yorkers live in a household consisting of one immigrant.
- New York City is also among the top 10 most diverse cities in the United States.
However, here are some of the most common incidents that may require the attention of national origin discrimination attorneys:
- Discrimination based on affiliation with individuals from a particular nationality, culture, or religion.
- Discrimination based on physical or cultural characteristics, such as having a foreign accent.
- Discrimination based on perception or assumption of nationality, such as Sikhs being considered Muslims.
Examples of National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
While incidents of national origin discrimination vary depending on circumstances, here are some practical examples.
- You’ve qualified for promotion, but your employer believes that someone else deserves the role based on their nationality even though they aren’t as qualified.
- Your colleagues make fun of your accent, and your bosses deny your application for certain roles because they feel it’ll upset their clients.
- Your employer pays you less because you’re from a particular nationality or affiliated with a particular culture, religion, etc.
What To Do if You’re a Victim of National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against based on your nationality, religion, culture, accent, or anything in between, here’s what to do.
- Document the incident, including date, time, place, witnesses, and description.
- Keep doing a good job – don’t stop performing your duties because of the discrimination incident.
- Seek help from friends and family as well as professionals, mental health providers and experienced national origin discrimination lawyers.
- Report the incident to your supervisor and HR in the workplace.
- Evaluate your employer’s policy on national origin discrimination and follow it.
- Keep evidence of the discrimination incidents.
- Make copies of your complaints.
- Understand your rights – your employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a national origin discrimination claim.
Contact an Experienced Employment Attorney in Long Island, NY
Contacting an experienced New York employment attorney is the next step in pursuit of compensation. While there are many national origin discrimination attorneys in New York City, at Ricotta & Marks, P.C., Employment Law is All We Do!