National origin bias: heed new EEOC rules, increased enforcement.

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In June, the EEOC proposed new regulations concerning Title VII's national origin provisions.


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars employers from discriminating against employees based on their national origin or ethnicity. Employers may not discriminate in recruitment, hiring, promotion, work assignments, segregation and classification, transfer, wages and benefits, leave, discipline, layoff and termination or any other terms and conditions of employment.

National origin discrimination complaints comprise about 11% of the charges the EEOC receives each year.


The new proposed EEOC regulations target job segregation, human trafficking and intersectional discrimination.

Job segregation occurs when employers segregate workers into specific physical or geographic areas, or into specific job titles based on their national origin or ethnicity.

Human trafficking for economic purposes often results in national origin discrimination because the trafficking victims are often targeted because they come from poor countries or oppressed minorities overseas.

Intersectional discrimination is described as situations in which employers discriminate against workers based on their national origin and another factor such as sex.


The revised regulations almost certainly portend increased enforcement efforts by the EEOC. Employers should view the change as an opportunity to review their anti-discrimination policies to ensure they include national origin discrimination.

The new regulations contain many examples of illegal national origin discrimination to help employers identify discriminatory practices that may have crept in. These examples can be used in training to raise awareness among managers and supervisors.

Avoiding job segregation

Employers in communities with a high percentage of immigrants often hire workers from those groups who, in turn, refer other immigrants for jobs. This is completely legal.

Problems may occur, however, when employers only hire immigrants for entry-level positions and refuse to promote them to management even if an immigrant is the best qualified applicant.

Employers can also become so accustomed to hiring from the immigrant group that they are uncomfortable with hiring anyone else for similar positions. In that case, the employer can actually be accused of national origin discrimination against persons born in the United States.

Advice: Whether making an initial hire or promotion, focus on...

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