EEOC National Origin Updated Guidance

On November 21, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission published updated guidance explaining how it enforces the prohibition against national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC also released an informal question and answer publication as well as a small business fact sheet.  The EEOC last updated this guidance in 2002 so this is a good opportunity for employers to update their own handbooks and policies regarding national origin discrimination.  While EEOC enforcement guidance sometimes goes beyond the requirements of controlling case law, it is helpful for employers to know what the EEOC will look for when investigating claims.   

Under Title VII, national origin discrimination is defined as discrimination because an individual (or his or her ancestors) is from a certain place or shares the physical, cultural, or language characteristics of a national origin (ethnic) group.  National origin does not refer to immigration status, though it is important to note that Title VII protects foreign nationals working in the United States.  Employers should be especially careful with language fluency requirements and language restrictive policies, as these may run afoul of Title VII unless carefully tailored to limited situations.  Employment decisions should not be made on an accent unless it materially interferes with effective performance of a required job duty.   

If you have any questions about this or any other labor/employment issue, please feel free to reach out to your firm contact or Alison F. Smith ( or Michael S. Kantor ( at (954) 763-4242.

Categories: Labor and Employment
Tags: Fort Lauderdale Labor Law Attorneys