Westchester County Nationality Discrimination

Westchester County Nationality Discrimination

Westchester County Attorneys Protecting the Rights of Employees

People from many different countries and regions call New York State home. For example, about a third of the people in Westchester County speak a language other than English. About 12% of the County’s residents are not United States citizens. In spite of the area’s diversity, there are some employers that do not value the melting pot that makes our country special. If your employer engages in nationality discrimination, you should consult the Westchester County nationality discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates about your situation. We understand how difficult it can be to seek justice from an employer with greater resources and work hard to help our clients recover damages after dealing with nationality discrimination.

Title VII and Nationality Discrimination

Nationality discrimination happens if an employee is treated negatively because of their actual nationality, country of origin, ancestry, or ethnicity, or the employer's perception of their nationality. Sometimes it is hard to determine whether the discrimination is nationality discrimination or race, color, or religious discrimination. For example, if you are a black Muslim from Somalia, it may be difficult to know whether your employer is treating you badly due to nationality, race, color, or religious beliefs. However, nationality as well as these other characteristics are protected under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York State Human Rights Law.

The federal law prohibiting nationality discrimination is Title VII. However, your employer must have a minimum of 15 employees to be covered under Title VII. Federal law caps the amount of damages that you can recover, based on the size of the employer, and requires you to file a charge of nationality discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) before filing a lawsuit in federal court. A nationality discrimination attorney can help Westchester County residents follow these procedures.

The New York State Human Rights Law

The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits nationality discrimination and covers your employer if your employer has a minimum of four employees. Under the New York State Human Rights Law, you do not need to file a charge with a governmental agency before filing a lawsuit in state court. There are no caps on damages. However, you will not be able to recover punitive damages to punish your employer or deter future misconduct under the state law.

Common Forms of Nationality Discrimination

You may be facing nationality discrimination if your employer refuses to promote you into a customer-facing position due to your nationality. While an employer may not directly state that this is the reason for denying you the promotion, it may use euphemisms for its reasoning like "We want a person who can promote a wholesome, all-American image to be in front of customers." For another example, it may be national origin discrimination if you are not hired because of your accent.

Some employers are uncomfortable with the diversity of languages spoken in America. In response, they may enact English-only rules. However, according to the EEOC, such rules are only lawful under Title VII if they were instituted for a nondiscriminatory reason and help the employer with necessary business operations. A Westchester County nationality discrimination attorney can help you take action against an employer for instituting an inappropriate English-only rule.

One form of discrimination under federal and state laws is harassment. Your employer should not turn the other cheek if you are being harassed because of your nationality. A minor, one-off incident is probably not actionable, but if you face severe or pervasive harassment that alters the terms and conditions of employment or results in an adverse employment decision (such as a wrongful termination, you may be able to file a lawsuit for hostile work environment harassment. If you are being bullied, you should put your employer on notice.

It can be frightening to confront your employer about nationality discrimination. However, your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for engaging in good faith in a protected activity, such as filing a charge with the EEOC or filing a lawsuit in state court.

Consult a Nationality Discrimination Lawyer in Westchester County

At Phillips & Associates, our experienced attorneys help employees and job applicants who have suffered from nationality discrimination in Westchester County, including in Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, and White Plains. If you believe that you have been a victim of national origin discrimination, contact us at (866) 229-9441 or through our online form for a free consultation.

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