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EEOC releases enforcement guidance for anti-discrimination laws

Most New York employers are subject to the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which among other things forbids workplace discrimination against members of protected classes. In November, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a guidance on discrimination based upon national origin.

The enforcement guidance fact sheet issued by the EEOC does not describe new laws or ordinances. Rather, it explores the precise meaning of Title VII and offers useful examples taken from real life that will help guide employers as they seek to maintain a workplace without discrimination and reinforce employee rights.

For example, it is fairly common knowledge that employers cannot force their employees to speak English while they are on lunch break or off work. However, what is less well known is that the a customer has no right to demand to interact only with someone who is of of a particular national origin. If a customer were to make such a demand and the employer were to support the customer in it, then the employer could be found to be in violation of Title VII.

The prohibition against national origin discrimination does not only apply to the workplace. It is equally applicable during the interview process as well. The EEOC has noted that this type of discrimination forms the basis of more than 10 percent of the claims filed with the agency every year.

As tensions concerning immigration have escalated, so have issues regarding workplace harassment or discrimination based upon national origin. People who believe that they have been unfairly treated when applying for a job or passed over for a promotion because of where they were born may want to discuss their concerns with an employment law attorney.

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