The Intersection Between Title VII and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Rules Regarding Accent Discrimination

Those who have immigrated to the United States have played a pivotal role in our nation’s success. Indeed, the goal of encouraging immigrants to assist in growing the United States’ economy was one of the reasons that Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically Title VII. Similarly, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was enacted as an omnibus bill designed to address discrimination beyond employment, focusing on voting, education, and public accommodations.

DiversityThe purview of Title VII and the EEOC intersect in many ways. Most recently, the EEOC has issued clarification regarding the scope of national origin discrimination when accent discrimination is alleged.

Title VII National Origin Discrimination

Title VII prohibits qualifying employers from discriminating against an individual because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Discrimination can take many forms, including failure to interview or hire, disparate compensation or benefits, or terminating an employee because of those enumerated characteristics. A Texas national origin discrimination claim can be appropriate in these situations.

EEOC Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

In 2016, the EEOC issued a sub-regulatory document that provided further clarification and guidance on discrimination against a person based on their accent. Specifically, the EEOC explained that an individual’s accent and their national origin are undeniably intertwined. Thus, in instances in which a person is alleging discrimination based on their accent, courts are required to engage in a very discerning examination of the employer’s reasons for using an accent as a reason for an adverse employment action. In other words, the EEOC recognizes the potential that an employer may cite an employee’s accent as a pretextual reason for discriminating against them based on their national origin.

While there have been recent decisions resulting in favorable outcomes for employees, accent discrimination is not always illegal. The EEOC has explained that in certain situations, an employer may take an adverse action based on an employee’s accent. However, the employer must show that the accent “materially interferes” with job requirements and performance. In order to establish this, employers are required to proffer very specific evidence illustrating the need and how the employee’s accent will interfere. This evidence must show a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason for the disparity in treatment among employees.

Have You Been Mistreated By a Texas Employer Because of Your Accent?

If an employer has taken an adverse employment action against you because of your national origin or accent, you should contact the Dallas employment lawyers at Rob Wiley P.C. The attorneys at our firm have many years of experience handling lawsuits against discriminating employers. Texas national origin discrimination lawsuits require a thorough understanding of the complex laws and statutes that govern these claims.  An attorney at Rob Wiley, P.C. can assist you in understanding your rights and potential remedies. Contact the law firm to schedule your free, in-person, initial consultation with an experienced and dedicated Texas employment attorney. To schedule your consultation, call 214-528-6500.

More Blog Posts:

Can government workers be fired for exercising their right to free speech?, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2018.

How a Texas Employee Can Prove a Case of Employment Discrimination, Dallas Employment Lawyer Blog, May 2, 2018.

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