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Is there a Difference Between National Origin and Race Discrimination?

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It’s easy to confuse the terms national origin and race since they are generally correlated. But although they are closely related, national origin and race aren’t exactly the same.

So, what’s the difference between these two protected classes? And what protections do California employees have from these types of discriminations?


Definition of National Origin and Ancestry Versus Race Discrimination

National origin and ancestry discrimination mean treating someone unfairly or less favorably because of their ethnic or ancestorial background. Linguistic, cultural, or physical characteristics associated with a national origin group are also considered part of a person’s national origin. National origin discrimination also includes treating someone unfavorably because they are associated with or married to a person of a specific national origin. Discrimination can still exist when the person who imposed the discriminatory action and the victim are of the same national origin.

Race discrimination, on the other hand, happens when an employer discriminates against someone based on race or a person’s physical characteristics such as skin color. Race discrimination can occur based on a person’s perceived or actual race. Such discrimination can also occur when an individual is treated differently because of his or her association with individuals of another race.


Protections for California Employees

Federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from both national origin and racial discrimination.

In Los Angeles and throughout California, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) further protect employees from national origin discrimination in the workplace.


Examples of National Origin Discrimination

The law prohibits employment discrimination based on national origin or ancestry. In addition to the hiring process, this includes firing, job assignments, pay, job training, promotions, layoff, benefits, or any other terms of employment.

Examples of national origin or ancestry discrimination can include discrimination based on citizenship, accents, or language. In California, employers are prohibited from enforcing or adopting a policy that prohibits or limits the use of a specific language in the workplace. This language policy also protects employees during nonwork time including lunch, breaks, and employer-sponsored events.


Examples of Race Discrimination

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited to discriminate based on race. In the state of California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act further protects employees from racial discrimination at work.

Although laws are in place to protect employees, racial discrimination still happens in the workplace. Some common signs of racial discrimination at work include racial profiling, harassment, stereotyping, open hostility, and overly critical managers


Contact a Race Discrimination Attorney Today

California employees deserve to work in an environment free from discrimination. If you’ve experienced any kind of national origin, ancestry, or racial discrimination, you have the right to file a claim against those at fault. Our Los Angeles discrimination attorneys have over two decades of experience fighting for employee rights and can help get you the justice you deserve. Contact Mesriani Law Group today to speak with an attorney about your potential case.

About the Author
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Rodney Mesriani

Rodney Mesriani is the principal partner of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica based Mesriani Law Group. He specializes in personal injury and employment law while also being an accomplished litigator and trial attorney. Rodney is an aggressive negotiator and a well-known and respected attorney in the areas of practice he specializes in.

He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from California State University Northridge before attending Southwestern School of Law where he received his Juris Doctorate. While being an accomplished personal injury and employment lawyer, Rodney Mesriani has made it a point to attend numerous State Sponsored MCLE events and seminars over the years as a law practitioner to be informed of the latest laws and litigation strategies.



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