National origin discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee or applicant differently because they are from another country. This may occur because of the individual’s accent, native language, clothing, beliefs and a number of other factors. It may even occur because the employer believes the worker or applicant is from another country or because of the individual’s spouse or other family member. When an employer harasses an employee on the basis of national origin, it discriminates by forming an illegal hostile work environment.
Laws prohibiting national origin discrimination in Colorado
Colorado and federal employment laws prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of national origin. The two laws that most commonly apply to national origin discrimination are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). Additionally, employment discrimination claims involving national origin may involve other laws such as the Immigration Reform and Control Act and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (here) is a federal statutory prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, religion and national origin. It applies to most employers but not religious entities or employers with fewer than fifteen employees. Title VII protections include hostile work environment and other harassment claims.
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) closely follows Title VII as a state anti-discrimination law. It also prohibits discrimination on the basis of national origin but extends coverage to all employers regardless of size.
Hostile work environment claims
A hostile work environment occurs when an employer harasses or allows an employee to be harassed at work. A legal claim for hostile work environment under federal and Colorado employment law arises when the harassment results in a negative employment act by the employer or the offensive conduct is severe or pervasive in the workplace.
Some examples of offensive conduct that can create a hostile work environment on the basis of national origin include:
- Use of slang or slurs related to a person’s race, ethnicity, or national origin;
- Jokes about a person’s heritage or national origin;
- Derogatory comments about a person’s skin color;
- Spreading images, comments, emails and objects in the workplace that ridicule or attack a person’s race, ethnicity, or national origin;
- Assigning a person to less prestigious job assignments or work locations;
- Mocking or ridiculing a person’s accent; or
- Mocking or ridiculing a person’s native language.
Individual acts often do not rise to severity of a hostile work environment claim even if the individual act is offensive and harassing. There is no clear line how many offensive acts must take place to create a viable claim. Talk to an employment lawyer about the situation to determine your next steps.
Colorado hostile work environment attorneys
Colorado hostile work environment attorneys represent clients in harassment and other employment discrimination claims. These claims can be complex in both law and procedure. If you believe your employer subjected you to harassment on the basis of your national origin then you should contact Colorado hostile work environment attorneys right away. Do not wait until the situation is out of control to contact an employment law attorney. It may be too late to act to protect your job or pursue a claim.