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“Go back to where you came from” may violate federal law

Working in the United States is often an effective way to realize the American dream. While you do not mind going to work every day, you should not have to worry about facing illegal discrimination. Still, if you have a dark skin tone or speak with an accent, your supervisors or other colleagues may engage in national origin discrimination. 

If you think you have been the victim of discrimination at your place of employment, you may need to act quickly to preserve your legal rights and protect your job. You should also, though, know about the sort of conduct that tends to constitute national origin discrimination. 

A working definition 

National origin discrimination occurs when someone at your workplace causes a hostile work environment or otherwise interferes with your job duties because of your national origin. To have a valid discrimination claim, though, you must prove the conduct is ongoing and pervasive. Usually, a single remark or off-color joke is insufficient to constitute national origin discrimination. 

Slurs and more 

Certain racial and ethnic slurs are easy to identify as discriminatory. You may never have to deal with someone explicitly slurring your national origin, though. On the contrary, sometimes, national origin discrimination occurs when your coworkers use other phrases that may not immediately appear to be discriminatory. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recognizes that phrases, such as “go back to where you came from,” may constitute national origin discrimination. 

Reporting and retaliation 

If you report suspected national origin discrimination to your employer, someone should investigate. You should not, however, have to worry about retaliation. That is, federal law prohibits your employer from taking adverse employment action because you have reported harassment, filed an official claim or otherwise exercised your legal rights. 

The United States should have a place for virtually everyone living in the country. Still, if you have to put up with national origin discrimination at work, you are likely not living the American dream. By understanding how national origin discrimination often manifests, you can likely better advocate for your best interests.

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