National Origin Discrimination

National Origin Discrimination in Employment is Unlawful

National origin discrimination in employment is unlawful.

Employees and applicants for employment are protected from discrimination.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, federal laws, prohibit national origin discrimination. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, labor organizations, and employment agencies.

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act [CADA], prohibits national origin discrimination in employment. The CADA applies to employers with one of more employees.

“Customer preference” is not lawful defense to national origin discrimination. An employer may not rely on the bias, prejudice, and/or preferences of coworkers, customers, or clients concerning discriminatory national origin.

Unlawful national origin discrimination in employment may exist when a member of one national origin group discriminates against a member of the same group.

A employer engages in unlawful national origin discrimination when an adverse employment action is taken based on the:

  • (1) Country where a person was born, or the place of origin of her ancestors; or

  • (2) Physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics of a particular national origin group. A "national origin group," or an "ethnic group," is a group of people sharing a common language, culture, ancestry, race, and/or other social characteristics.

The Supreme Court of the United States has recognized that the line between discrimination based on “ancestry or ethnic characteristics,” and discrimination based on “place or nation of ... origin,” is not a bright one [and] [o]ften . . . the two are identical as a factual matter.

Discriminatory Actions

Discriminatory adverse employment actions, based on national origin, constitute a significant change in employment status. Examples include the failure or refusal to hire, promotion, demotion, compensation, job assignments, and discharge, and discrimination concerning the terms and conditions of employment.

An employer may not limit, segregate, or classify employees or applicants in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his or her status because of such individual’s national origin.

Unlawful national origin discrimination includes an employer denying equal employment opportunities based on:

  • (1) Stereotypes associated with a specific national origin or ethnicity.

  • (2) The employer’s perception of an individual’s national origin, i.e. the belief that a person is a member of a particular national origin or ethnicity. This prohibition applies regardless of whether the person is from a particular origin or has a particular ethnicity.

Unlawful discrimination includes an employer taking adverse action against an individual because of an individual’s following associations or relationships.

  • Marriage to a person of a particular national origin.
  • Affiliation and/or association with a person or group of a particular ethnicity
  • or national origin.
  • Participation in organizations, schools, churches, temples, or mosques generally associated with a particular ethnic group or national origin.
  • Physical, cultural, clothing, language, or customs associated with a particular national origin, ethnicity, of country.
  • Family name associated with a particular ethnicity or national origin.
Harassment/Hostile Work Environment

An employer may not subject an employee to harassment or a hostile work environment because of national origin.


Murray Law welcomes the opportunity to provide legal counsel and representation to any person who believes that he or she has been deprived of the right to be free from national origin discrimination in employment. Please contact Steven Murray at 720-600-6642.


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] provides guidance, explanation, and discussion concerning national origin discrimination. See

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