What's the Difference Between National Origin and Race? | Mann & Elias
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What’s the Difference Between National Origin and Race?


People should be treated with fairness and respect when they go into work. Regardless of who you are or where you come from, the fact that you have been employed by a company means that you can get the job done. You should be able to work with your colleagues to complete tasks and meet goals without being subjected to racial discrimination.

Racism is not always obvious and out front. It can work in subtle ways to undermine the morale of people of color and ensure that they do not receive the pay, promotion, training, and opportunities for advancement that they deserve. If your career has been derailed or you have been otherwise mistreated because of your race or ethnicity, you have the right to take legal action. Your first step should be to hire an employment attorney in Los Angeles.

Defining Race Discrimination

The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race. This is federal law, but each state has a range of laws that are designed to reinforce this principle. Racial discrimination includes any kind of bias or prejudice that is based on skin color. It occurs whenever an employer favors one group of people over another because they are of different races.

Racial discrimination is not limited to intentions, individual behaviors, or language. A company can be held liable for racial discrimination if it has established structures and systems that are designed to favor one racial group over others.

Discrimination Against Nationality

Employers are also prohibited from discrimination on the basis of nationality. The latter is defined as:

  • Place of birth
  • Cultural, linguistic, or physical features
  • Association with a national group

You are also protected from discrimination if you are married to a foreign national or have membership in an organization that seeks to promote the interests of a national group.

A Distinction with a Difference

The law forbids racial and national origin discrimination. It also treats them separately. Race refers to who you are; national origin refers to where you are from. Not all white people are from Europe, and not all black people are from Africa or the Caribbean. That is why there are distinctions in the law.

For example, you may be a white person who was born and raised in a country in Africa. Your first language may not even be English, and your religion and social customs may differ considerably from those of most Americans. You may be discriminated against because of these differences. You may be treated unfairly, passed over for promotion, and left out of important opportunities for advancement because of the way you speak, your cultural practices, or your religious beliefs. This is against the law. However, the charge against your employer would be discrimination based on national origin rather than race.

If, however, you are a person of color born in the United States, and you are discriminated against because of the way you look, then you should charge your employer with racial discrimination. 

You should always consult with a Los Angeles workplace lawyer before deciding whether to claim race or national origin as the basis of the discrimination against you. In general, the following issues are bound up with national origin discrimination:

  • Citizenship
  • Language
  • Accent

Race discrimination cases typically involve racially charged or insensitive remarks, generalizations based on race, gestures, images, and micro-aggressions that are meant to demean and intimidate people of color.

You should retain the services of a nationality discrimination lawyer in Los Angeles if you have been subjected to any of the above.

Citizenship Discrimination Is Also Outlawed

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 forbids employers from discriminating against employees who are not U.S. citizens. To be sure, this does not mean an employer cannot refuse to hire a person who is in the country illegally. However, if you have obtained a work visa or are in the U.S. on some other legally recognized permit or visa, you have rights and protections.

There is a legally sanctioned process that all companies are required to go through to verify the eligibility of a foreign national to work in the U.S. You must present the documents required by these regulations. Your employer cannot ask you for different documents or refuse to honor the genuine documents that you present them.

The IRCA also does not cover immigrants who fail to be naturalized within two years of applying for a job. To receive the protections of the IRCA, you must show that you are working toward naturalization. Your employer is not obligated to support your effort to renew your work visa or permit.

If you are not sure whether this law protects you, it is important to contact a nationality discrimination lawyer Los Angeles or an ethnicity discrimination lawyer for the workplace.

Know Your Rights

You should know your rights as an employee. The 1964 Civil Rights Act forbids the following actions:

  • Harassment on account of your race or national origin
  • Retaliation by your employer for reporting discrimination
  • Isolating or excluding persons of color or foreign-born individuals

-Failing to promote and properly pay persons of color or foreign-born individuals

If you feel uncomfortable with the comments made to you by a colleague or supervisor or you believe that your employer has established policies that systematically discriminate against people of color or foreign nationals, then you may want to deal with the matter on your own. If you work in a company that welcomes this kind of action, then you should do it. However, you should never feel obligated to save your bosses or the company embarrassment by taking legal action against them.

The Steps You Must Take

If racial discrimination persists in your organization and you want to do something about it, you must contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You should first consult with a Los Angeles ethnicity discrimination attorney who will help guide you through the process.

You will need to make an inquiry online. A representative will then contact you and discuss the matter. You will then be invited to submit a Charge of Discrimination on the Public Portal, which you must do so within 60 days. The EEOC is obligated to investigate each charge made against a company. If they find out about your employer, they will issue a report. Your Los Angeles ethnicity discrimination attorney will be able to use this report in the lawsuit against your employer.


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