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What does it take to prove discrimination based on national origin?

Austin, TX |

My former company has let me go recently and has for the last several years been firing Americans and hiring Indians to take their place. I’ve become another statistic as part of a “workforce reduction”. I was harassed at the end of last year by a group comprised entirely of Indians, whom I had no previous working relationship with whatsoever, who escalated on me daily to directors and executive directors without cause which led to an unfavorable review from which ultimately cost me my job. Is it at all possible for a lawyer to find out the demographic makeup of a company and accurately determine the percentage of Americans vs Indians that are let go during a workforce reduction to prove discrimination based on national origin?

Attorney Answers 1


Discrimination based on national origin involves treating employees or job applicants unfavorably because they are from a different country, or because of the person’s (or the person’s spouse’s or associates’) ethnicity or foreign accent, or because they seem to be of a certain ethnic background. The law prohibits discrimination in hiring, firing, pay, promotions, layoffs, job assignments, training, fringe benefits, and any other term of employment.

Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate based upon citizenship or immigration status. IRCA also prohibits retaliation against someone who asserted his or her right under the Act or for filing a charge or aiding in an investigation or proceeding under IRCA.

It is also unlawful to harass someone due to his or her national origin. Inoffensive or mildly offensive stray remarks are not considered harassment. Rather, it becomes illegal when it is so frequent or serious that it establishes a hostile work environment or when it causes an adverse employment decision. The person who commits the harassment can be a supervisor, fellow employee, or customer.

As far as determining demographics of a company's employees, there are methods that are available during the discovery phase of a lawsuit that may help to determine such demographics.

Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement.

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