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National Origin Discrimination at the Workplace: Unfair Practices and Prejudicial Behavior

National discrimination at the workplace is prohibited by law. Unfortunately, this does not prevent many people from displaying these shameful practices. Members of national minorities need to know their rights and tools available to them in order to fight against this prejudicial behavior.

Employers display national discrimination when they base their professional decisions on a person’s ethnicity, surname, or ancestry. This type of prejudicial behavior can take two forms: direct and subtle.

  • Direct national origin discrimination occurs when an employer refuses to hire people that come from certain countries or have a distinctive surname.
  • Subtle discrimination shows through prohibiting employees from wearing national garments, enforcing an “English only” rule, unexplained refusal of promotion, etc.

Many employers use language as an excuse to discriminate against people of different ethnicities. However, one should understand that there are strict rules that determine the amount of leeway that an employer has in this case. It is indeed possible to deny employment to people with a strong accent, but only in the case this accent actually interferes with their ability to do the job. Employers can also make fluent knowledge of some language a mandatory requirement. It is possible to establish an “English only” rule that prohibits the staff from speaking any other language during work hours. This can only be done if the specifics of the business require such a measure. Even in this case, people should be allowed to speak their native language during breaks and when there are no customers present.

According to the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), any employer is prohibited from discriminating against people who do not have U.S. citizenship as long as the person in question has the necessary documents that authorize them to work in the U.S. However, there are some positions that require American citizenship based on federal law. In other cases, all nationals and citizens of the U.S., refugees, asylees, as well as lawful temporary and permanent residents are protected against national origin discrimination at the workplace by Title VII and IRCA. These laws also encompass discrimination against a person based on the nationality of their spouse or friends.

Many legal steps are taken to prevent national origin discrimination at the workplace, but the problem persists regardless. The most effective way of protection for people from national minorities is understanding their rights. Employers cannot enforce any rules that are based on prejudice and stereotypes in the eyes of the law if there are no serious reasons that can justify this behavior. Clients’ preferences are not considered valid reasons for a policy of national origin discrimination.

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