California National Origin Discrimination Laws
Both Federal and California state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of an individual’s national origin. In addition, California and Federal law prohibit discrimination against a person because he or she is associated with an individual of a particular national origin. National origin broadly refers to the country where a person was born or where his or her ancestry comes from, and it includes any display of the physical and cultural traits of a particular national group. National origin generally means “ancestry” and does not refer to citizenship.
National origin discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against an employee on the basis of his or her national origin and/or ancestry. Even if the employer believes that an employee has a certain nationality and discriminates against the employee because of his belief even though the employee does not have that nationality, the employer can still be held liable.
Retaliation in national origin discrimination cases in California can occur when an employee sees what he or she believes is national origin discrimination (and we’ve been through many “towel head”, “terrorist” comments in the workplace) and complains about it. The complaining employee does not have to be right – the motive of the harasser may be something else entirely – however, it is the “reasonable belief” which is protected. You do NOT have to be a member of the protected group to complain.
California courts of appeal have ruled that national origin discrimination can be proved through direct evidence (which is rare and may consist of a point-blank statement by a supervisor), or circumstantial evidence (such as statistics). As in all forms of discrimination, all that is necessary for the plaintiff to prove is that it is “more likely than not” that national origin discrimination occurred. (If it or any other form of discrimination occurs or his ratified at a high level in the company, say by an “officer, director or managing agent”, then punitive damages may in fact occur. We just wrote a blog on punitive damages and are pleased to have been the plaintiff’s attorney in a leading California case redefining the definition of “managing agent”. (Maxwell vs. Beverley Enterprises).
Also, if an employer has a rule that requires employees to speak only English at all times on the job this may be a form of national origin discrimination. To rebut this presumption an employer must show that it is necessary for conducting business. If an employer believes the English-only rule is critical for business purposes, employees have to be told when they must speak English and the consequences for violating the rule. Any negative employment decision based on breaking the English-only rule will be considered evidence of discrimination if the employer did not tell employees of the rule.
In a lawsuit brought for national origin discrimination, an employee is entitled to lost wages, damages for pain and suffering, possible attorney fees and costs, and possible punitive damages.
Stephen Danz & Associates is a statewide law firm that’s dedicated to representing employees in disputes against their employers. Stephen Danz & Associates based in Los Angeles, California, protects clients from retaliation, discrimination, and harassment involving dismissal, demotion, or denial of accommodation based on age, race,national origin, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation, marital status, association, physical or mental disability, or other legally protected classifications. Additionally we represent employees if they have not been paid the proper wages including overtime or minimum wage or given the proper meal breaks. If you believe that you are the victim of discrimination, please contact our National Origin Lawyers in Los Angeles to setup your free consultation . We take cases on a contingency basis and collect no attorney fees unless we win your case.