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I Think I Faced Discrimination at Work Because of my National Origin. What Can I Do?

by: Justin Burton

If you were passed over for a promotion, terminated or laid off, not hired in favor of another candidate, or suffered harassment in your workplace, you could be a victim of national origin discrimination. This is the unfair treatment of an individual based on his or her actual or perceived place of birth.

As a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States, you have the right to seek and maintain fulfilling work. There are a few positions that are only available to citizens, such as federal government positions. These rights are protected by the Immigration Reform and Control Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Both are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces our nation’s employment laws.

It is Illegal to Discriminate Based on Citizenship or National Origin

Recognizing citizenship and national origin discrimination is not always easy. A few examples of these types of discrimination include:

  • Asking interviewees where they were born;
  • Paying US citizens and permanent residents different rates for the same work;
  • Refusing to promote non-citizens beyond a certain level in the company;
  • Targeting an individual or group with off-color remarks, invasive questions, and offensive imagery; and
  • Refusing to hire non-citizens.

Document Everything

Every time you feel you have experienced discrimination based on your citizenship status or national origin, document it. Print out emails and meeting notes that contain discriminatory content, note the date, time, and context of conversations where harassment or other forms of discrimination occur, and when it comes to being passed over for promotion or paid an unfair rate, keep all related documents to support your claim.

Report your Experienced to Human Resources

Before you file a discrimination claim with the EEOC, try to resolve your issue internally. Report your experiences to your company’s Human Resources department, which could result in an appropriate resolution for your case. But do not let your guard down or get rid of your supporting documents – you might still need to bring in outside aid.

Consider Filing a Discrimination Claim with the EEOC

If your report to Human Resources takes you nowhere, work with an employment lawyer to file a claim with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate your claim by examining your evidence and your workplace, and if it finds discrimination occurred, it may facilitate a settlement between you and the company. If not, you might have to file a discrimination lawsuit to have the court rule on your case.

Work with an Experienced Chicago Immigration Lawyer

Nobody has to tell you that becoming an American citizen or permanent resident and establishing yourself in a career here is a long, difficult process. When you suffer from discrimination in your workplace following all this effort, the consequences can feel especially unfair. Speak with an experienced immigration lawyer at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC to determine the best course of action for exercising your rights to pursue a career in the United States. Contact our firm today to set up your initial consultation in our office.

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