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Excerpted From: Office of Legal Counsel (Jenny R. Yang), EEOC Enforcement Guidance on National Origin Discrimination, Title VII, 29 CFR Part 1601, 29 CFR Part 1606 (2016) (179 Footnotes) (Full Document)


USEEOCommittionTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, protects applicants and employees from employment discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, opposition to practices made unlawful by Title VII, or participation in Title VII proceedings. Title VII's protection against national origin discrimination extends to all employees and applicants for employment in the United States, and, in some circumstances, to U.S. citizens working in other countries. In enacting this protection, Congress recognized that whether an individual (or her ancestors) is from China, Russia, or Nigeria, or belongs to an ethnic group, such as Hispanic or Arab, she is entitled to be free from employment discrimination on that basis.

The American workforce is increasingly ethnically diverse. The largest percentages of immigrants to the United States are now from Asia and Latin America, which extends a recent trend. Immigration from Africa and the Caribbean countries also continues to enhance diversity among Black Americans.

Immigrant workers are present in every occupation in the United States, and they are highly-represented in many of the largest-growth occupations. Twenty-five percent of foreign-born workers aged 16 and older work in service occupations. In the near future, second- and third-generation descendants of at least one foreign-born parent are expected to enter the workforce in increasing numbers.

This document sets forth the Commission's interpretation of the law of national origin discrimination. In crafting this guidance, the Commission analyzed how courts have interpreted and applied the law to specific facts. Regarding many national origin discrimination issues, the lower courts are uniform in their interpretations of the relevant statutes. This guidance explains the law on such issues with concrete examples, where the Commission agrees with those interpretations. Where the lower courts have not consistently applied the law or the EEOC's interpretation of the law differs in some respect, this guidance sets forth the EEOC's considered position and explains its analysis. The positions explained below represent the Commission's well-considered guidance on its interpretation of the laws it enforces. This document serves as a reference for staff of the Commission and other federal agencies who investigate, adjudicate, litigate, or conduct outreach on national origin discrimination under Title VII. It will also be useful for employers, employees, and practitioners seeking detailed information about the EEOC's position on national origin discrimination, and for employers seeking “promising practices.” This Enforcement Guidance supersedes EEOC Compliance Manual, Vol. II, Section 13: National Origin Discrimination.

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The increased cultural diversity of today's workplaces presents new and evolving issues with respect to Title VII's protection against national origin discrimination. This enforcement guidance will assist EEOC staff in their investigation of national origin discrimination charges and provide information for applicants, employees, and employers to understand their respective rights and responsibilities under Title VII.


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