New Regulations Expand the Protections Offered to California Workers Against National Origin Discrimination

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.

Especially in light of these new rules, any employer’s English-only policy should be constructed narrowly. Based on past court rulings, employers should set up such policies only to address such things as problems with bilingual employees using their mother tongue to disparage or demean other workers who do not speak that language.

Under the new rules, an employer’s discrimination based upon a worker’s English proficiency or her linguistic accent will only be allowable if the employer can show that having English proficiency or a lack of an accent is necessary to the performance of the job’s essential duties.

If you have experienced discrimination based upon your national origin, whether it was your employer’s language policy or some other violation, you may have a case and be entitled to a recovery of compensation. The Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch have been working hard for many years to protect the rights of workers to be free from illegal discrimination. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

California Professor’s Discrimination Case Survives University’s Claim that Anti-SLAPP Law Blocked the Lawsuit, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Oct. 12, 2017

How Your Employer’s Actions May Create an Implied Contract and Help Your California Wrongful Termination Case, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, July 28, 2017

Contact Information