National Origin Discrimination Attorney in Akron, Ohio
Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees who fall into certain protected classes from being discriminated against or harassed at work. The protected class includes race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
Subsequent court decisions and other federal laws later expanded protection to other classes, including veterans, pregnant workers, those with disabilities, sexual orientation and gender identity, and more.
Prior to the federal legislation, in 1959, Ohio passed its own Civil Rights Act, which is designed to "prevent and eliminate the practice of discrimination in employment against persons because of their race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry."
Protected classes of employees in Ohio thus enjoy protections at both the federal and state level. It should be noted that employment applies to more than just a worker on the job. Applicants are protected as well, and even job opening advertisements must hew to neutral standards that do not discriminate.
If you feel you've suffered employment discrimination or harassment in or around Akron & Toledo, OH, because of your national origin, contact the Law Offices of F. Benjamin Riek III.
Attorney F. Benjamin Riek III is a former official with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) who understands employment law and the rights of employees to resolve issues and seek redress of grievances. He proudly represents clients in Akron, Cleveland, Hudson, Lorain, and Canton, Ohio.
On the federal level, discrimination and harassment charges are investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), while on the state level, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCR) carries out the same investigative and enforcement activities.
Recent laws in Ohio have brought the two agencies pretty much in lockstep with each other when it comes to charges of national origin and other violations. The major difference is that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers only employers with 15 or more employees, while the Ohio Civil Rights Act has a threshold of just four employees.
Another large difference is that to report a violation to the EEOC, you must do so within 180 days of the incident. The OCR allows up to two years, which is actually down from six years. In 2021, the state passed the Employment Law Uniformity Act (ELUA), which reduced the time frame for reporting.
Another massive change through ELUA was that it imposed a similar requirement as the EEOC that you cannot file a lawsuit without first reporting the violation to the agency. Previously in Ohio, you could file an employment-based discrimination or harassment lawsuit without filing a charge with the OCR first. Now you must.
Generally, after filing with the EEOC or OCR, you must wait until either the agency issues you notice a right to sue. If they fail to respond or take action within a reasonable time frame, you also may be eligible to file suit.
National origin discrimination means treating applicants or employees unfavorably because they are from a particular country or region of the world, because of their accent or ethnicity, or because they are perceived to be of a specific ethnicity whether true or not.
Discrimination can occur on many fronts, as briefly mentioned above. Hiring, firing, promotions, demotions, benefits, job assignments, training opportunities, pay, and any other term or condition of employment are all covered by state and federal statutes.
Harassment based on national origin is also prohibited. An occasional joke, tease, or offhand comment generally won't rise to the level of harassment unless it becomes persistent and creates what is known as a hostile work environment.
The harasser does not have to be a supervisor or employer but can be co-workers or even clients and customers who visit the business.
A business can adopt an English-only policy for nondiscriminatory reasons only. In other words, an English-only policy is permissible only if it is needed to promote safe and efficient job performance or foster safe and efficient business operations. The policy must be clearly set forth.
In a similar vein, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee who speaks English with an accent unless the accent materially interferes with the ability of the employer to carry out their required duties.
The Immigration Control and Reform Act (IRCA) of 1986 makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual because of citizenship or immigration status. IRCA instituted the Employment Eligibility Form I-9, which new employees are required to complete within three business days of being hired.
The I-9 lists different documents used to verify eligibility to work in the United States. The employee gets to choose which documents they use to satisfy their eligibility. The employer cannot demand other documents or proof.
It's understandable that you may feel hesitant to come forward for fear of being retaliated against - fired or demoted - but the law also protects against retaliation. Attorney F. Benjamin Riek III will attempt to protect your rights, help you file the necessary charge with the EEOC or OCR, and pursue your case until a proper resolution is obtained.
If you feel your rights to employment or your treatment as an employee have been violated based on national origin discrimination or harassment in Akron, Cleveland, Hudson, Lorain, or Canton, Ohio, contact the Law Office of F. Benjamin Riek III immediately.