nationality in either written discovery or in depositions?
Based on your question you are still in the "discovery" phase of your case. Requests for documents, written questions, requests for admissions and depositions are the primary tools used during this time and litigation. In California you may ask any question that "is reasonably likely to lead to admissible evidence at trial". Your opponent may only refused to answer the question if the answer is protected by privilege, for example the attorney-client privilege covers communications between an attorney and client.
This means that you can ask your opponent almost anything as long as you can think of a way that it could lead to admissible evidence at trial and the answer is not protected by privilege. You could ask them about their politics. It could lead to admissible evidence at trial. Maybe they are a member of a political party that promotes racial or religious hatred. You could ask them how they feel about the comments made by Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty as the answers could reveal a racial bias.
Before you answer or ask a question think, how could this lead to admissible evidence. I hope this helps. Good Luck.
State, Local, and Municipal Law Attorney
Certainly. The plaintiff has put his or her religion and nationality at issue in the case, so it's obviously relevant and appropriate to ask about it...
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Employment / Labor Attorney
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I think the prior responders assume that you are defending a religious discrimination claim. And that may be correct.
But your question makes more sense to me if I assume that you are the claimant and you are asking whether you can inquire about the religion or religious beliefs of a representative of the employer. The answer to that question is far less easily answered. Certainly, if your theory of liability is that an employer/manager/supervisor's religious beliefs caused or prompted conduct that constituted unlawful religious discrimination against you, you may develop that theory in detail in pre-trial discovery. Similarly, the issue of a manager's religion or religious beliefs can be relevant and probative if you contend that historical, traditional, or religious principles confirm or support your claim of discriminatory conduct by that person. But very likely you will need to have an articulable theory about why you are interested in developing evidence of a supervisor's religion if you intend to make an issue of it in discovery. If you can't articulate a sound reason for your interest in the issue, you may be denied that opportunity based on your opposing party's privacy rights among other potential reasons.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
You have received many responses that give a consistent answer. I would simply add that your question is vague. I think most responders are saying that you can ask the employee who claims religious harassment or discrimination about their religion, and that is correct. That would not give you carte blanche in that regard, nor would it necessarily allow you to question persons other than the plaintiff about intimate aspects of their religion. As one of the fine responses stated, if you want to ask a question, you have to establish that the answer would likely lead to admissible evidence. If you cannot articulate a clear basis for achieving that standard, then you will likely be precluded from asking the question. Just remember that the standard just recited can be trumped by privacy objections in many circumstances.
Good luck to you.
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