Last month, the California Office of Administrative Law approved new regulations that will be a substantial help to workers who are victims of national origin discrimination on the job. The new regulations strengthen protections already in place by establishing a new, broader definition of what constitutes “national origin” as related to discrimination. These new regulations serve as an important reminder that the law is ever-changing, and California’s laws protecting workers from improper discrimination are broad-based to achieve the policy goal of stamping out discrimination in the workplace. If you think you have suffered from disability discrimination, you should talk to a knowledgeable California employment discrimination attorney without delay to learn more about the options that may be available to you.
In its original definition within California law and regulations, national origin (as it related to national origin discrimination) regarded only “the individual’s or ancestors’ actual or perceived place of birth or geographic origin, national origin group or ethnicity.” Under the new regulations, national origin discrimination can occur when an employer discriminates in various ways. These ways can include discrimination based upon the “physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics” that are generally connected to a national origin group. It also applies when the discrimination is based upon a worker’s marriage to, or association with, people of a particular national origin group. Other bases are tribal affiliation; being a member in, or associated with, a group that is identified with, or that seeks to promote, the interests of a national origin group; attending or taking part in schools, churches, temples, mosques, or other religious institutions generally connected with people of a national origin group; and your name if that name is associated with a national origin group.
Obviously, as you can see from this list, there are several ways that an employer can run afoul of these new regulations, from discrimination based on your name to where you attend church to your tribal affiliation. One of the more common workplace occurrences that these regulations greatly restrict is “English-only” language policies. In the past, California employees have encountered problems with their employers imposing such policies, demanding that they speak only English on the job, including while on their breaks.