Phillips & Associates

Philadelphia Nationality Discrimination

Knowledgeable Employment Lawyers Assisting the Residents of Philadelphia

Philadelphia has a diverse population, including a large community of West Africans and a large West Indian population. But Employers are not supposed to treat employees adversely based on their nationality or national origin. They are not permitted to discriminate against job applicants, or employees, based on their culture, which is defined as unfair treatment on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived country of origin, foreign accent, ethnicity, ancestry, or ethnic traits. If you believe that you have been harmed by this type of wrongful conduct, you should consult the Philadelphia nationality discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

Nationality Discrimination Under Federal Laws

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that protects employees against national origin discrimination. Employees cannot be treated adversely due to their customs, their culture, or the national origin of their spouse or others with whom they associate. National origin discrimination occurs when an employer makes adverse employment decisions related to hiring, firing, pay, promotions, training, or job assignments based on an employee's actual or perceived country of origin or ethnicity. For example, if a prospective employer rejects you solely based on your accent or claims that you do not fit in with the company culture because of your ethnic background, even though you are otherwise qualified to do the job, you may have a Title VII claim.

Employers are not allowed to use recruitment practices that tend to discourage job applicants of a specific nationality or national origin. Harassment is one form of nationality discrimination. For example, if your supervisor makes derogatory comments about your actual or perceived country of origin, oryour accent, and assigns you to a position that is not customer-facing because of this, a nationality discrimination attorney in Philadelphia may be able to help you bring a Title VII claim.


Harassment on the basis of national origin, accent or ethnicity may be actionable as a form of national origin discrimination. An employer can be responsible for permitting nationality harassment on the job if the harassment is so severe, or so pervasive, that it creates a hostile work environment. Generally, the employer is liable under Title VII if it knew or should have known that the harassment was occurring but failed to take appropriate steps to combat it. It is important to confront your harasser and ask him or her to stop and to follow the grievance procedures that your company has put into place to notify the employer that there has been harassment. This gives the employer an opportunity to correct the situation. If the employer does not fix the situation, you may be able to pursue damages for a hostile work environment.

In some cases, national origin discrimination overlaps with religious or racial discrimination. For example, if you are a Black Muslim from Somalia who has been subject to harassment on the job, and you suspect that you are being overlooked for promotions and raises, a Philadelphia nationality discrimination attorney can help you determine whether you have a national origin discrimination claim, a religious discrimination claim, and/or a racial discrimination claim.

State and City Protections Against Nationality Discrimination

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) is the state law forbidding nationality discrimination. It applies to employers that have at least 4 employees. There are some important differences between federal law and the PHRA. Under Title VII, you are entitled to back pay, front pay or reinstatement with retroactive seniority and benefits, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. However, compensatory and punitive damages are capped. On the other hand, you cannot recover any punitive damages under the PHRA, but it applies to smaller employers that are otherwise not covered by Title VII

The Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance is the local law prohibiting nationality discrimination. It is enforced by the Philadelphia Commission of Human Relations, which investigates complaints, conducts public hearings if substantial evidence is located, and then rules based on this evidence, orders remedies, and settles cases when possible.

Discuss Your Case with a Nationality Discrimination Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you are dealing with nationality discrimination at your job, you should consult the experienced employment litigators at Phillips & Associates. You can call us at (215) 315-7694 or contact us for a free consultation through our online form.

1635 Market St #1600A
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: (215) 315-7694
Fax: (212) 901-2107

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