National Origin Discrimination At Work

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
Read this in: Spanish / Español


What is discrimination based on national origin in employment?

The right of employees to be free from discrimination based on national origin is protected under the law, including the following enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The law against discrimination based on national origin includes all aspects of employment. This includes hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.


  • It is unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on national origin or for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under Title VII


  • It is unlawful to harass a person because of his or her national origin.

  • Harassment can include, for example, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person's national origin, accent or ethnicity. Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Title VII- National Origin

What is discrimination based on national origin in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)?

  • National origin discrimination involves treating people (applicants or employees) unfavorably because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not).
  • National origin discrimination also can involve treating people unfavorably because they are married to (or associated with) a person of a certain national origin.
  • Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same national origin.

State Law

Louisiana State Law and Employment Discrimination Based on National Origin

Louisiana law, LA Rev Stat 23:332 prohibits intentional discrimination in employment.

Retaliation claims for other types of discrimination complaints are not covered under the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law. Under La. Rev. Stat. § 23:967 General Whistleblower Protection Law an employee may not be discharged (or discriminated against) in retaliation for performing, in good faith, the following activities:

  • Disclosing (or threatening to disclose) a workplace act or practice that violates state law;
  • Providing information or testimony in a public investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any violation of the law;
  • Refusing to participate in (or objecting to) an illegal employment act;
  • To be protected under this statute, the employee must first inform the employer of the violation. An employee is not protected if he goes directly to a governmental agency without first advising the employer. Also, an employee must be certain that the illegal conduct actually happened; a reasonable, good faith belief will not protect an employee if no violation actually occurred. 

The general rule is that most employees may be fired at any time-for any reason or for no reason at all-under what is known as the at-will employment doctrine. However, there are exceptions to the general rule; the Louisiana whistleblower protection statute. Employees who engage in protected activities (usually filing a complaint or testifying) under laws in the following subject areas are protected from retaliation: health care employees, insurer employees, labor investigations & proceedings, and workers' compensation.

In addition to the above state protections, federal law provides workers with additional protections. Furthermore, a private contract or collective bargaining agreement may also protect employees from certain forms of retaliation.

How to File a Charge

To File A Charge

Laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) require you to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights (LCHR) before you can file a discrimination lawsuit against your employer. An individual alleging a violation of Title VII. You must file a charge with the EEOC or LCHR before you can file a discrimination claim in federal court. You can also file your claim in state court based on state law without filing with the EEOC or LCHR first.

  1. To File a Claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

    • Within 180 days of the alleged unlawful compensation practice

    • 15 or more employees who have worked for the employer for at least twenty calendar weeks (in this year or last) 

  2. File with the Louisiana Commission on Human Rights (LCHR):

    • Within 180 days of the alleged unlawful compensation practice

    • 20 or more employees who have worked for the employer for at least twenty calendar weeks (in this year or last).

  3. To File in a State Court under Louisiana State Law:

    • You may file a claim under state law without having first gone to either the EEOC or LCHR.

    • Generally, to preserve your claim under state law based on your state discrimination claims, you must file within 1-year or 360 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. 

    • If you file your discrimination claim with the EEOC or LCHR within 300 days of the discriminatory treatment, then you have an additional 6-month extension from the 1-year period to file your claim in Louisiana state court (meaning you have 18 total months).

    • A case filed in state court using federal law may be “removed” to federal court by the employer because it involves a federal statute such as Title VII, ADEA, ADA, GINA, and/or PDA because the employer is based in another state.

  4. To File a Discrimination Claim in Federal Court:

    • To preserve your claim under federal law, you must cross-file with the EEOC or LCHR within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against.

    • A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court without first going to the EEOC or LCHR, as discussed above, and having the EEOC or LCHR dismiss your claim.

    • This process is called “exhaustion” of your administrative remedy. The EEOC or LCHR must first issue the document known as “Dismissal and Notice of Rights” or “Notice of Right to Sue” (Form 161) before you can file a case based upon your federal claim.

    • A lawsuit based on your federal discrimination claim must be filed in federal or state court within 90 days of the date you receive the notice. Be sure to mark down that date when you receive the notice.

Last Review and Update: Sep 20, 2022
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