Multicultural Resources

Appendix B:
National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of national origin, as well as race, color, religion, and sex. Under Equal Protection analysis, the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the inherent connection between one’s primary language and one’s national origin. (Hernandez v New York)

  • If LEP employees cannot understand OSHA safety, health, wage and hour, Family Medical Leave Act and other important information because of a language barrier, it may be necessary for the employer to provide language assistance.
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s definition of national origin discrimination includes cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group.
  • Speak English Only Rule- may violate Title VII unless the employer can show it is absolutely necessary for conducting business.
  • Accent- Employer may be required to show a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the denial of employment because of an individual’s accent or manner of speaking.
  • Requiring employees or applicants to be fluent in English may violate Title VII if the reason is not related to job performance.
  • Harassment on the basis of national origin- Ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical contact because of an individual’s national origin creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. Employers have the responsibility to maintain a workplace free of harassment and may be held responsible for the acts of non-employees who harass their employees at work.
  • Immigration-Related Practices.

Filing a Charge
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Call 1-800-USA-EEOC

For More Information About LEP Employee Rights call:

OSHA - Maine
Phone: (207) 941-8177

Maine Department of Labor
Phone: 1-800-794-1110

Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Phone: (202) 616-5594
Toll Free Information Number and Worker Hotline: 1-800-255-7688, (202) 616-5525 or 1-800-237-2515 (TDD for hearing impaired)
Employer Hotline: 1-800-255-8155, 1-800-362-2735 (TDD for hearing impaired)
Fax: (202) 616-5509

They make every effort to respond to emails that relate to the work of this office within 30 days. However, for immediate assistance, please call their employer hotline (1-800-255-8155) or worker hotline (1-800-255-7688).

The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), in the Civil Rights Division, is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b, which protect U.S. citizens and legal immigrants from employment discrimination based upon citizenship or immigration status and national origin, from unfair documentary practices relating to the employment eligibility verification process, and from retaliation. OSC provides pro bono representation, education, and community workshops for employers. OSC has a language interpreter service and is equipped to serve callers in all languages. Their website offers many informational materials in both English and Spanish.