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Guidance from the EEOC about national origin discrimination

California employers and employees should carefully review proposed guidance about national origin discrimination released in early June by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It outlines the agency's policies as well as how its rules apply to various scenarios in the workplace.

The EEOC states that it will be vigilantly focusing on national origin discrimination. This means that complaints alleging it will receive more scrutiny than others. Companies that also have foreign operations need to be aware that their staff must comply with Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964 there in most cases as well. Employees may not be separated at the workplace according to specific characteristics. English language requirements are fine if they are in place as a matter of business necessity.

Companies should be careful about making employment decisions based on the preferences of customers. If the customer's preferences are discriminatory, then the business may be held to have committed national origin discrimination. When staffing firms commit national origin discrimination, the employers that have hired the firms may also be jointly liable. Businesses may not discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of their immigrant status.

Policies by employers that have a disparate impact on a set group of people can often be considered to be discriminatory under Title VII. When workers or applicants for a job believe that they have been the target of national origin discrimination, they may want to talk to employment law attorneys to learn more about their rights. An employment law attorney can often advise the worker or applicant about whether or not it appears that the employer's action was discriminatory. If the evidence suggests that it was, then the attorney might initiate the process by filing a claim with the EEOC.

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