Through my years as an employment law attorney, I have represented a number of employees who were subjected to discrimination based upon their national origin. Although we live in a country where the vast majority of our ancestors were immigrants, national origin discrimination remains a major problem in the workplace. Privacy and confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements prohibit me from identifying cases, named parties, and the existence and terms of settlement agreements. However, if you are a victim of national origin discrimination, I will take all necessary steps to protect your rights, which also may include workplace education to prevent a continuing cycle of national origin discrimination.Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), the Illinois Human Rights Act (“IHRA”) and various local ordinances prohibit employment discrimination against an employee or job applicant based on national origin. Under these laws, it is illegal for an employer to make employment decisions regarding, hiring, promotion, demotion, termination, compensation, job training or other terms and conditions of employment based upon your national origin. Since there is often overlap between national origin discrimination and race discrimination, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 can also provide protection against national origin discrimination. These laws also prohibit employers from creating a hostile work environment based on national origin. Ethnic slurs, insults, jokes, graffiti, e-mails or other comments or conduct based on your national origin constitute unlawful harassment.
The same laws that protect you against national origin discrimination also protect you from retaliation for complaining about national origin discrimination or participating in an investigation of national origin discrimination. As an employee, you have a legal right to complain about national origin discrimination in the workplace. If you exercise your legal right to complain, it is illegal for your employer to “retaliate” against you by firing you, harassing you, stripping you of your job responsibilities, refusing to give you deserved raises, issuing unwarranted discipline, etc.
Title VII and the IHRA with respect to national origin discrimination applies to employers with at least 15 employees.