Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  National Origin Discrimination

  • Can I be discriminated against because of the color of my skin?
  • Can a job application ask me to identify my national origin?
  • Can an employer choose employees of one national origin over another?

Can I be discriminated against because of the color of my skin?

No. Title VII specifically prohibits employment discrimination based on color, as well as race, religion, sex, and national origin. Whether you suffer discrimination due to skin color typically associated with your race or national origin, or are harassed due to an skin color not typical for your race or national origin, both are against the law.

Can a job application ask me to identify my national origin?

Some applications may ask you to identify your national origin for purposes of diversity, or compliance with governmental contracting requirements or a valid affirmative action plan. However, it should be completely voluntary for you to comply.

Can an employer choose employees of one national origin over another?

In some limited circumstances, employers are allowed to prefer one national origin to another. This is allowed only when national origin is what is called a "bona fide occupational qualification" for the position, which means that belonging to a certain national origin is necessary for the job.

For example, being of Latin origin might be a bona fide occupational qualification for a role in a movie featuring a Cuban family. Circumstances in which preferences for one national origin are allowed are very rare. The employer must be able to demonstrate the position has special qualifications that only members of one national origin can fulfill. 

Thought of the Week

"Differentiating among people on account of their group membership, disadvantaging some and not others, is not the problem with discrimination. We don’t discriminate against criminals by burdening them with jail. It is when disadvantages are unjustly imposed because of group membership that differentiation between groups is morally objectionable. This is what we call discrimination. So instead of trying to ignore this fact, we should acknowledge that the ethical issue is how group membership of one sort or another may legitimately be handled in dealing with individual persons."

–Frederik Kaufman; Professor of Philosophy & Religion at Ithaca College, NY.

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

    Discrimination of Native Americans

    • 54% of Native Americans living on tribal lands or other majority-Native areas say they have experienced racial or ethnic discrimination when applying for jobs.
    • 54% of Native Americans living on tribal lands or other majority-Native areas say they have experienced racial or ethnic discrimination when being considered for a promotion or equal pay.

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