Articles Posted in National Origin Discrimination

It is sometimes said that anti-discrimination laws are not general civility codes. While that’s true, certain uncivil misconduct, if it occurs sufficiently frequently, be something more, exposing improper bias based on protected characteristics like race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, etc. When that happens, what you’ve endured crosses the line from rudeness to workplace discrimination and, with the aid of a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination lawyer, you can take action to obtain compensation for the damage you suffered.

One way this kind of discrimination can occur is when a worker endures mockery or insults based on their culture and/or language. This recent national origin discrimination case from here in Manhattan is an example.

The worker was a man of Chinese ancestry who worked as a director for the New York City Department of Finance. According to his lawsuit, coworkers targeted him on multiple occasions. These actions allegedly included correcting his pronunciation of certain English words (the director spoke English with a Chinese accent,) insulting his proficiency with the English language (pretending to be unable to understand him and frequently asking him to repeat himself even though they understood what he said,) and mocking his dish at a holiday potluck with comments like “you’re Chinese you bring those dumpling things.”

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Any successful employment discrimination case must begin with a well-written complaint. That complaint must properly plead sufficient factual allegations to support an “inference of discrimination.” Failure to do this may leave your case vulnerable to dismissal as a result of a motion filed by your employer. To protect yourself, make sure that you have the legal representation you need from a skilled and experienced New York employment discrimination lawyer from the very start.

In the discrimination case of a Brooklyn assistant principal, the issue was alleged adverse treatment based on the employee’s nationality.

M.B. was an Antiguan woman and a decades-long employee of the New York City Public Schools. She spent the last 18 years of her employment as an assistant principal at the same school in East Flatbush. Before her last year on the job, M.B. had never been “written up” for disciplinary issues.

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In 2023, like so many years before, the new year has brought new laws (or amended laws) designed to better protect workers from the “cancer” of employment discrimination. These new developments reflect the reality that workplace discrimination law is ever-evolving in New York. For that reason, among countless others, having a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination lawyer on your side can be invaluable.

In 2019, New York City took the lead in enhancing protections for undocumented workers. A September guidance document made it clear that using terms like “aliens,” “illegal aliens,” and “illegals,” when intended “to demean, humiliate, or offend,” amounts to illegal discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.

Late last December, New York State followed New York City’s lead. Governor Hochul signed into law a bill that added citizenship and immigration status to the list of protected classes against which employers may not discriminate.

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In recent years, New York has bulked up its laws opposing discrimination based on the target’s immigration status or perceived immigration status. Today, discriminatory employment practices can include things like using immigration status-oriented words or phrases as insults or slurs, or threatening workers with immigration enforcement actions. If you’re someone who has experienced this sort of mistreatment at work, you may have a winning case under the New York State Human Rights Law, the NYCHRL, or both, so don’t delay in reaching out to an experienced New York immigration status discrimination lawyer to discuss your options.

In 2019, New York City declared that any employer that uses the terms “illegal aliens” and “illegals” in a way designed to “demean, humiliate, or offend a person or persons in the workplace” has engaged in employment discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. Additionally, an employer’s threats to “call federal immigration authorities” or have the worker deported can constitute unlawful harassment under the NYCHRL when “motivated, in whole or in part, by animus related to the employee’s actual or perceived immigration status and/or national origin.” Those, of course, are not the only ways employers can run afoul of the law’s prohibitions against immigration status discrimination.

As an example, there’s this case from late November, where a Manhattan-based luxury confectioner most famous for its mille crepe cakes agreed to a settlement that ended the U.S. Justice Department’s immigration discrimination case against the employer. The DOJ accused the confectioner of requiring certain employment candidates to go above and beyond what the law requires in terms of documenting their eligibility to work.

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Nationality/racial stereotypes span across all nationalities/races and a wide array of subject matter. What all racial stereotypes have in common is that they are offensive, harmful, and inappropriate for the workplace. If you’ve endured this kind of stereotyping at work, a violation of anti-discrimination law may have occurred, so it is well worth your while to contact an experienced New York City employment discrimination lawyer to discuss your circumstances.

Here in New York City, there’s an enhanced possibility that the racial stereotyping you endured at work broke the law. That’s because, in this city, there are multiple different laws banning employment discrimination based on race or nationality.

H.L.’s national origin discrimination case makes for a clear illustration. H.L., who was originally from China, worked for ConEd from 2004 to 2020. During that time, the employee allegedly endured various racist comments and taunts, including one coworker who “would pretend to be Chinese” and speak to H.L. in broken English with a mock Chinese accent. The coworker also frequently instructed H.L. to “open your eyes,” according to the complaint.

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For those who are not Latino or African American, it may be easy to assume that all Latinos or African Americans fall monolithically into one group. This is not true, and it is one reason why the law in New York protects people based on not only their race, ethnicity, and/or national heritage, but also their color. Discrimination based on color (or “colorism”) is very real and, if it has happened to you at work, then you should reach out as soon as possible to an experienced New York City employment discrimination lawyer.

Back in March of this year, Pew Research surveyed more than 3,300 Latinos across the USA about issues of skin color and discrimination. Last month, the study results revealed that nearly 2/3 (62%) of those surveyed said that having darker skin color was a disadvantage, with more than half (57%) saying that darker skin color affected their daily lives.

According to one Latino man’s lawsuit from a few years ago, that precise problem of workplace colorism was egregiously on display right here in New York City when he worked at one of the Upper West Side’s most famous Italian restaurants.

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Back in 2007, radio host Don Imus got fired after he referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, the majority of whom were Black, as “nappy-headed hos”. That incident may have been particularly infamous, but the thousands of women of color working in New York City know that such attitudes are not uncommon. Many women of color face insidious race and/or gender discrimination on the job. Oftentimes, though, it will be something less obvious than being publicly demeaned with vulgar language like Imus’s. While it may have been less obvious, that doesn’t necessarily make it any less damaging to you in your career. If it happens to you, you should take action. Get in touch with a knowledgeable New York City discrimination lawyer to discover what legal options may exist for you.

Take, for example, K.R., an Afro Latina woman of Dominican ancestry working at a Manhattan media strategy and “crisis management” firm.

According to K.R.’s discrimination lawsuit, which she filed last year, the firm’s owner criticized her demeanor on the phone as “angry.” The complaint stated that, by contrast, the woman accused exactly none of her white female workers of having an “angry” phone demeanor.

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If you’ve suffered discrimination at work, it is important to recognize that bringing a lawsuit that will end in success involves much more than just understanding the factual aspects of what happened. There are also tactical and procedural litigation strategies that can help maximize your odds of success. That’s why a knowledgeable New York employment discrimination lawyer is so important to your case. Your lawyer can take the facts you provide and then generate a winning plan.

A recent national origin and age discrimination case involving an NYPD detective shows ways in which this can be true. A.P., who was born in Russia in 1967, was a detective and a member of the Executive Protection Unit (EPU) charged with protecting the mayor.

During A.P.’s nearly three years with the EPU, 26 of the roughly 30 detectives with the EPU received promotions, but A.P. was not one of those detectives promoted. According to the detective, a “significant number” of the 26 promoted detectives were individuals with fewer years of service and were less qualified than him. Most allegedly were younger than him. Additionally, all were non-Russian.

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The novel coronavirus, known more officially as SARS-CoV-2 and less officially as “the coronavirus,” has had a devastating impact on New York City and surrounding areas. While the daily number of new cases in New York is decreasing, the virus shows no sign of slowing down in many other parts of the country, even as most states are in the process of “reopening” their economies. The disease is bad enough by itself, but its supposed origins in China have also led to an unfortunate backlash against people perceived to be of Chinese heritage. In practice, this often means anyone who appears to have Asian ancestry, including in New York City. Discrimination, harassment, and worse have occurred in workplaces and in public. The New York City Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which works to prevent discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, and other factors, created a response team in April to address discrimination and harassment related to the pandemic. If you feel you have suffered from discrimination or harassment while at work based on real or perceived national origin, it is prudent that you speak with a New York City national origin discrimination attorney as soon as possible to go over your rights under the law.

Laws Against Race and National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace

The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) prohibits workplace discrimination based on a person’s “actual or perceived…race…[or] national origin.” N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(1)(a). This includes terminating someone’s employment, demoting them, denying them shifts or assignments, and other adverse actions, when the sole or primary purpose is that they are a particular race or have a particular national origin.

The coronavirus pandemic involves multiple forms of employment discrimination. The CHR has adopted guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) related to disability discrimination. The EEOC first published the guidelines in October 2009 in response to the H1N1 pandemic, and later adapted them for COVID-19. The CHR created the response team to look into anti-Asian bias.

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Workplace discrimination has been a problem for about as long as workplaces have existed. New York City employment discrimination attorneys have some of the most powerful tools ever devised to fight back against such practices, but it remains a serious problem. Laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit discrimination on the basis of several factors. National origin discrimination has taken the national stage in recent weeks because of the global coronavirus pandemic. Far too many people have channeled their fear of the virus, which might have originated in China, into acts of discrimination and harassment against people whom they perceive to be of Asian descent. In the workplace, this violates Title VII and other statutes.

Title VII, the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), and the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) specifically identify national origin as a protected category. Federal regulations interpreting Title VII define “national origin” to include both “an individual’s, or his or her ancestor’s, place of origin” and “the physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group.” 29 C.F.R. § 1606.1. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considers harassment on the basis of national origin to constitute unlawful employment discrimination when “ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct relating to an individual’s national origin” create a hostile work environment or otherwise impede a person’s ability to do their job. Id. at § 1606.8(b).

Public health officials first noticed the virus, which is officially known as SARS-CoV-2 and commonly known simply as the coronavirus, late last year when a cluster of cases appeared in Wuhan, China. The disease caused by the virus is known simply as “coronavirus disease 2019,” or COVID-19. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued best practices for naming new infectious diseases, in which it recommended that the media, governments, and scientists refrain from naming new diseases after geographic locations “to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people.”

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