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The law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants because of their national origin. It protects U.S. citizens and nationals, permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees, and persons with asylum. An employer may not base its employment decisions on an employee’s birthplace, ancestry, culture, or accent. The law forbids national origin discrimination relating to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, or other conditions of employment.
It is also unlawful to harass a person because of his or her national origin. Harassment might include derogatory or offensive comments or jokes about a person’s national origin or accent. Although simple off-hand comments alone may not be illegal, if they occur frequently or are so severe in nature that they cause a hostile or offensive work environment, they may be unlawful harassment.
The law also protects employees from discrimination because of their marriage to or association with persons of a different national origin. Likewise, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee due to his or her membership in an association or organization that is identified with or promotes the interests of a national origin group.
An employer may, however, make employment decisions based on national origin if doing so is reasonably necessary for normal business operations.
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