Workplace Inclusion

National Origin

You have the responsibility to ensure equal opportunity for workers.

You must treat job applicants as well as current employees equally, regardless of national origin. In general, this means you can’t: 

  • fire,
  • reject for a job or promotion,
  • give lesser assignments to,
  • force to take leave, or
  • otherwise negatively alter the terms and conditions of employment for an individual because of their national origin. 


National origin discrimination involves treating someone differently because they (or their ancestors) are from a certain place or have the physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular national origin group. You can’t require job applicants or current employees to speak a language fluently or proficiently unless it’s necessary to perform their job effectively. You can’t base employment decisions on an individual’s accent, unless it seriously interferes with their job performance. Discrimination can occur when you and the person who discriminated against you are the same national origin. 


You’re not allowed to discriminate against job applicants or current employees because of: 

  • their or their ancestor’s place of origin,
  • their ethnicity,
  • their accent or language fluency, or
  • their marriage or association with a person of a certain national origin.


It would be discriminatory for you to take an employment action in response to the discriminatory preferences of others, such as customers or co-workers. 


It would also be discriminatory for you to have a particular employment practice or policy that applies to everyone, regardless of national origin, if it negatively impacts people of a certain national origin. The only exception would be when you are able to show that the practice or policy is job-related and consistent with business necessity. 

We’re here to help.

We are committed to helping you understand your responsibilities as an employer. Many questions about your responsibilities may be answered by using the following elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisor:

For additional assistance, please contact:

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP): 1-800-397-6251 or the OFCCP Help Desk

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): 1-800-669-4000 or

Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) Section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice: 1-800-255-7688 or

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Need more information?

The elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors are a set of online tools developed by the U.S. Department of Labor to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under federal employment laws.