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National Origin Harassment

Advocacy for Victims of Workplace Misconduct in New York City and Beyond

It can be painful to be singled out at work for your national origin, accent, or ethnic background. National origin harassment is unlawful in New York City workplaces under federal, state, and local laws. Harassment is actionable even if the perpetrator of the harassment is of your national origin. If you have been subject to this misconduct, you should consult the New York City national origin harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

National Origin Harassment Under the City Law

The New York City Human Rights Law is highly favorable to employees. To show national origin harassment under the city law, you will need to establish that you belong to a protected national origin group, you were subject to unwelcome harassment, and you complained of the harassment. You need only show that you were treated less well than other employees based on your national origin. Your employer bears the burden of showing that the harassing conduct of which you complained amounted to a petty slight or grievance.

You should not be harassed at work because you are from another country, because you have a name or accent associated with a particular national origin, because you associate with someone of a particular national origin, or because you are involved in customs associated with a particular national origin. For example, if you are an Iraqi immigrant and endure comments from your manager about how all Iraqi people are camel jockeys and terrorists, this is probably national origin harassment. If you are told that you should not interact with customers because you are Chinese, and your coworkers regularly mock your accent and call you Ching-Chong Chinaman, a national origin harassment attorney in New York City can help you bring a claim. If you are pushed or kicked in a work locker room or face meanspirited pranks because your parents are of Pakistani origin, this may be national origin harassment.

What Counts as Harassment Under State and Federal Laws?

The New York State Human Rights Law and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibit national origin harassment. Harassment may involve slurs, epithets, derogatory comments, offensive objects, or pictures. In most cases, isolated incidents are not considered national origin harassment unless the conduct at issue is very serious.

Under state law, you will need to show that the workplace was permeated with discriminatory intimidation based on your national origin and that it was severe or pervasive enough to make your work conditions hostile. Factors that go into an analysis of harassment under state law include how frequent the harassing actions were, their severity, whether the actions were physically threatening or humiliating, whether they unreasonably interfered with work performance, and the impact on your psychological well-being. For example, if your coworkers beat you up and routinely call you a Commie because you are Russian, a New York City national origin harassment attorney can help you pursue a hostile work environment claim. Similarly, if you are Iranian and your manager refuses to put you in a customer-facing position because he thinks that your appearance and your accent are ugly and unwholesome, you may have a claim for national origin harassment.

In deciding whether there are grounds to impute the hostile work environment to your employer, the court will look at your status and the perpetrator’s status. If the harasser is your coworker, an employer can be held liable if it was negligent in controlling the work conditions. However, if the harasser is a supervisor or manager, the employer can be held strictly liable if the harassment results in a concrete employment decision. Strict liability means that your employer can be held liable even if it was not negligent. For example, if you complain to your manager about being harassed because you are Chinese, and as a result you are fired, the employer could be held strictly liable.

Consult a National Origin Harassment Lawyer in New York City

If you have faced national origin harassment in the workplace, you should seek knowledgeable legal counsel and representation. The seasoned attorneys at Phillips & Associates represent workers in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, along with Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Contact us at (833) 529-3476 or via our online form.

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