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National Origin Discrimination in California: Real EEOC Case Examples

examples-national-origin-discrimination-in-california-eeoc-cases.jpg

Are you facing national origin discrimination at work? If so, your employer's negative behaviors could be violating both California and Federal law. Pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is illegal for your employer or potential employer to subject you to adverse employment actions based on your actual or perceived national origin or ancestry. It is also unlawful if your employer knowingly allows a hostile work environment due to your national origin.

National origin discrimination and harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, but still occurs in the workplace. Activity constituting national origin discrimination in California can come in a variety of forms, ranging from harassment due to your accent, denial of training because you were born in a different country, and even wrongful termination based on your ancestry. At times, it can be difficult to know whether or not your employer's negative behaviors are unlawful, so it's important to understand what workplace discrimination can look like in real employment settings.

examples-national-origin-discrimination-in-california-eeoc-cases.jpg

Are you facing national origin discrimination at work? If so, your employer's negative behaviors could be violating both California and Federal law. Pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is illegal for your employer or potential employer to subject you to adverse employment actions based on your actual or perceived national origin or ancestry. It is also unlawful if your employer knowingly allows a hostile work environment due to your national origin.

National origin discrimination and harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, but still occurs in the workplace. Activity constituting national origin discrimination in California can come in a variety of forms, ranging from harassment due to your accent, denial of training because you were born in a different country, and even wrongful termination based on your ancestry. At times, it can be difficult to know whether or not your employer's negative behaviors are unlawful, so it's important to understand what workplace discrimination can look like in real employment settings.

The following examples of national origin discrimination and harassment are real cases from the EEOC newsroom that will help you understand your employee rights in California.

Examples of National Origin Discrimination in California

Constellation Wines Settles EEOC National Origin Lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Ukiah winery Dunnewood Vineyard, owned by Constellation Wines U.S., Inc., agreed to pay $75,000 and to implement preventative measures to settle an EEOC national origin harassment suit.

The lawsuit asserts that a Dunnewood Vineyard Mexican-American supervisor regularly harassed winery employee Julio Perez-Lombera and other Mexican-born employees calling them "wetbacks" and "beaners." When the workers complained of illegal workplace harassment, the supervisor also told them to go back to Mexico. The supervisor himself was Latino, but born in the U.S., unlike the other workers who were born in Mexico.

"Until this case, we didn't realize we had rights, or that there are laws to stop that kind of treatment," said Perez-Lombera. "I hope other people facing harassment on the job will realize they have rights, too, and will talk to the EEOC like I did."

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo stated, "We hope this case clearly signals that the civil rights laws of this country protect everyone from illegal discrimination, regardless of their ancestry or place of birth."

Read the full release

Delano Regional Medical Center Sued For National Origin Discrimination

FRESNO, CA - The EEOC filed a national origin discrimination lawsuit against acute care hospital, Delano Regional Medical Center, located in California's San Joaquin Valley. The EEOC alleges that the hospital prohibited Filipino staff members from speaking Filipino languages while still allowing non-Filipino staff members to speak other languages such as Spanish.

According to the EEOC suit, Delano management singled out Filipino staff for reprimands and company meetings, which created a hostile work environment. The hospital also threatened Filipino staff with audio surveillance, plus encouraged other staff to report on them creating tension between Filipino and non-Filipino employees.

"Employers must ensure that company policies are applied equally," stated Anna Park, regional attorney of the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office. "Targeting workers of a particular national origin is not only illegal, it also erodes company morale, pitting groups against one another."

Read the full release

EEOC Sues Peters' Bakery for National Origin Harassment and Retaliation

SAN JOSE, CA- An East San Jose family-owned business, Peters' Bakery, violated federal law when the principal owner verbally abused an employee using ethnic and racial slurs, according to an EEOC lawsuit. The bakery also retaliated against the employee by suing her for defamation after she filed a discrimination charge.

The suit alleged that Charles "Chuck" Peters discriminated against Marcela Ramirez due to her national origin. Peters also used offensive epithets to make insulting generalizations about Mexicans. After Ramirez didn't accept a forced layoff from Peters, he fired her.

"It is vital that EEOC sends the message that neither national origin harassment nor retaliation will be tolerated," stated William R. Tamayo, EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney. "Peters' Bakery filed a frivolous lawsuit in reprisal for Ms. Ramirez simply asserting her right to file an EEOC charge protesting the discrimination she faced."

Read the full release

Forestry Giant Sierra Pacific Industries Settles EEOC National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

SACRAMENTO, CA - Sierra Pacific Industries, which owns and harvests forests in California and Washington, will pay $95,000 to settle a national origin discrimination lawsuit brought by the EEOC.

The suit charges that after the September 11, 2001 attacks and continuing until his discharge, Sierra Pacific allowed employees to harass co-worker Ahmed Elshenawy, a man of Egyptian national origin employed at the company's Red Bluff, California plant.

The Sierra Pacific co-workers called Elshenawy "Osama," and "camel jockey" according to the EEOC. After Elshenawy complained he was then subjected to complaints by other Sierra Pacific employees. The EEOC also said that the company retaliated against Eshanaway by subjecting him to harsher discipline, ultimately ending with his termination in 2004.

"I will never forget the mistreatment I suffered just because of where I come from," Elshenawystated. "The EEOC showed me that laws protect workers from discrimination."

Read the full release

Mercury Air Centers To Pay $600,000 For National Origin, Race And Sex Harassment In EEOC Suit

LOS ANGELES, CA - Mercury Air Centers, Inc., an aircraft services provider, will pay $600,000 and furnish other relief to settle a national origin, race, and sex harassment lawsuit brought by the EEOC.

According to harassment suit, the seven victims - including one Filipino male and six Hispanic males - endured harassing comments from a Salvadoran male co-worker at the Bob Hope Airport facility in Burbank, California since 2004. The EEOC alleges that a Filipino line technician was regularly referred to as a "chink," "chino," and "stupid Chinese," and subjected to offensive statements regarding his national origin. The harasser also derided the Guatemalan victims with derogatory statements regarding their national origin, including referencing them as "stupid Guatemaltecos" and saying that Guatemalans are useless and inferior to Salvadorans.

The harasser also repeatedly made offensive racial and sexual remarks toward the victims and at least two African-American employees, including usage of the N-word and asking for sexual favors. Despite complaints of the employee's inappropriate and illegal behavior, Mercury Air Centers' management officials failed to address the harassment and didn't perform a full investigation. In fact, the alleged harasser was instead promoted to a supervisor role with the company.

Olophius E. Perry, district director of the EEOC's Los Angeles District Office, stated, "As the American workforce becomes increasingly more diverse, the potential for inter-minority and same-sex discrimination also rises. Employers must be mindful not to downplay such forms of discrimination, which can be just as demoralizing to the workforce as more traditional civil rights violations."

Read the full release

No one should have to worry about discrimination or harassment based on their national origin or ethnicity. Our California national origin discrimination attorneys will passionately fight for your rights and the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today for your free consultation.

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