The United States of America may be a land of immigrants, but many individuals still face discrimination in the workplace on the basis of where they come from. A person may feel like he or she was passed over for a job on the grounds of national origin, or an individual may feel uncomfortable around co-workers because they make offhand racial remarks. It is important to create an atmosphere within your business where everyone feels invited and everyone is able to do their job. With that in mind, you might have some confusion about immigrant discrimination in general, so here are some frequently asked questions to help you out.
1. Question: What laws protect immigrants in the workplace?
A couple laws are in place that offer protection to immigrants. A milestone piece of legislation that has assisted countless employees is Title VII within the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law states that people cannot be discriminated against based on their sex, race, religion and national origin. When it comes to national origin, employees can file a lawsuit if they feel they have been unfairly treated due to their ancestry, accent, skin color or place of birth. This law is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
There is also the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that business owners must treat everyone who is legally authorized to work in the United States equally. This extends to temporary residents, permanent residents, refugees and asylees. The law also states that employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees who have filed a discrimination lawsuit, and business owners cannot require potential employees to give more documentation than other workers.
2. Question: What is the policy on English-only rules?
This is a somewhat gray area of the law. While you cannot force someone to speak only English when he or she is on break, there are certain circumstances where speaking English is necessary. For example, if someone works a customer service position and needs to speak to someone who can only speak English, then English would need to be required at that moment. Generally speaking, English-only policies should be limited to when they are absolutely essential for someone to carry out the responsibilities of his or her position.
3. Question: What constitutes immigrant employment discrimination?
Harassment takes many forms. It could include not giving someone a job on the sole grounds that you only want to hire American citizens, or treating someone differently on the basis of his or her skin color or accent. It can also involve forcing someone to provide you with additional documentation when you do not ask that of every employee who works there.
4. Question: What kinds of businesses need to abide by anti-discriminatory laws?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 only extends to companies that have 15 or more employees. However, the Immigration and Nationality Act extends those protections to companies that employ four or more workers.
5. Question: Can someone be asked during an interview if he or she is a U.S. citizen?
Under no circumstances can you ask people during interviews if they are citizens. Similarly, you cannot ask people what country they are from or what their first language is. In the event that you offer someone a position, then you could ask for documentation such as a driver’s license or passport. Everyone, regardless of where they are from, must offer documentation, and you cannot ask certain people to provide you with more documentation than what is expected of everyone else.
Ultimately, the best person should be hired for the job regardless of where he or she is from originally. Take the necessary steps to prevent national origin discrimination from occurring in your workplace so that everyone is happy to work with you.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.