Posted On: July 8, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Rise in National Origin Discrimination Claims Post 9-11

After the horiffic events of September 9, 2001, discrimination against Muslins and people of Middle Eastern descent has increased, including in workplace discrimination--such discrimination is known as discrimination based on national origin. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin." 42 U.S.C. Section 2000e. The United States Supreme Court has interpreted Title VII's use of the term "national origin" as referring "to the country where a person was born, or, more broadly, the country from which his or her ancestors came." Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co., 414 U.S. 86, 88 (1973). The EEOC guidelines give breadth to define national origin discrimination "as including, but not limited to, the denial of equal employment opportunity because of origin, or because an individual has the physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group." 29 C.F.R. Section 1606.1.

Another basis for discrimination claims based on national origin can be found under section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. Section 1981. In Illinois, the controlling case is Abdullahi, v. Prada USA Corporation, 520 F. 3d 710 (7th Cir. 2008), whereby the Seventh Circuit held that hostility based on national origin (in this case Iranian) might be based on the fact that Iran is regarded as an enemy of the United States or by racial animosity. In 2008 the EEOC received 10,601 claims of discrimination based on National Origin with cases settling for a total of $25.4 million.