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New regulations expand national origin definition and protections

People that live and work in California have come from many different countries. Some have come to California as adults, others may have been born here, but their parents came from different countries. Others may have different national origins, but their families have been in the state for generations. However, despite the differences in their national origin, they all must be treated the same in the workplace.

For a while the law has prohibited employers from discriminating against employees based on their national origin. However, this law was recently expanded and employees now have even stronger protections.

The new law expanded the definition of national origin to include a person's physical characteristics associated with a certain national origin; marriage to someone of a certain national origin; tribal association; membership in a group, school or religion associated with a certain national origin or having a name associated with national origin.

Employers now cannot have policies about language; discriminate based on accents; have height or weight restrictions that affect certain national origins more; cannot inquire into immigration status and are prohibited from having other practices discriminating against national origin.

With these expanded definitions and prohibited practices, more employees who have different national origins or associate with other national origins will be protected against discrimination. Employers who do discriminate based on national origin, including firing employees based on their immigration status may be required to compensate the employees in a wrongful termination lawsuit. This compensation can include back pay, reinstatement to their old job and other damages.

Unfortunately, despite the laws prohibiting it, many employers still discriminate against people based on their national origin. With the expanded definitions, even more employers may be discriminating against their employees as well. Those employees may be entitled to compensation for this discrimination, which can be very valuable after being out of work for a period of time. Experienced attorneys understand the new laws and consulting with one may be useful.

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