California adds protections to law prohibiting national origin discrimination

Los Angeles national origin discrimination lawyer

In the midst of an ongoing nationwide discussion concerning immigration policies, California has strengthened its protections for employees and applicants on the basis of their national origin.

The amendments to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which went into effect July 1, 2018, clarify and broaden the definition of “national origin.”

According to the new regulations, the expanded definition of “national origin” includes a person’s or person’s ancestors’ actual or perceived:

    1. Physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics associated with a national origin group;
    2. Marriage to or association with persons of a national origin group;
    3. Tribal affiliation;
    4. Membership in or association with an organization identified with or seeking to promote the interests of a national origin group;
    5. Attendance or participation in schools, churches, temples, mosques, or other religious institutions generally used by persons of a national origin group, and
    6. Name that is associated with a national origin group.

In addition, the amendments lay out unlawful employment practices including, but not limited to, the following:

  • English-only policies that restrict the use of other languages unless “justified by business necessity”
  • Discrimination due to an applicant’s or employee’s accent unless shown the accent “interferes materially with … ability to perform the job”
  • Retaliation from an employer after an applicant or employee opposes discrimination
  • Height and/or weight requirements unless “justified by business necessity”
  • Seeking an applicant’s or employee’s immigration status unless “necessary to comply with federal immigration law”

The full text of the updated law can be found here.