Law Office of David Miklas, P.A.

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EEOC Issues Enforcement Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

On November 21, 2016 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an updated Enforcement Guidance on national origin discrimination to replace its 2002 compliance manual section on that subject.  Last year approximately 11 percent of the private sector charges of discrimination that were filed with EEOC alleged national origin discrimination.

The new 63-page Guidance is available for free at https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/national-origin-guidance.cfm

The Enforcement Guidance is not law, but it sets forth the EEOC’s interpretation of the law.  The EEOC also issued two short user-friendly resource documents to accompany the guidance: a question-and-answer publication on the guidance document and a small business fact sheet that highlights the major points in the guidance in plain language.

The following items are included in the new Guidance:

  • Employment discrimination based on place of origin or national origin (ethnic) group includes discrimination against an individual because of his association with someone of a particular national origin. For example, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because he is married to or has a child with someone of a different national origin or ethnicity.
  • National origin and accent are intertwined, and employment decisions or harassment based on accent may violate Title VII.  Due to the link between accent and national origin, courts take a “very searching look” at an employer’s reasons for using accent as a basis for an adverse employment decision. 


The EEOC’s Q&A states: “An employer may not base an employment decision on an accent unless the ability to communicate in spoken English is required to perform job duties effectively and the individuals accent materially interferes with that job performance.”

National Origin discrimination is currently a hot topic and employers should expect close scrutiny from the EEOC on this topic.


Florida employers who have questions or concerns on this topic should contact our law firm or call us at 1-772-465-5111.


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