Zealous advocates

Relentless in the fight for our client’s rights

Experts in Employment Law, Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

Leaders in our field

Protecting and Safeguarding your Rights


  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Workplace Discrimination
  4.  » Understanding national origin discrimination

Understanding national origin discrimination

As a California worker or employer, when you think of workplace discrimination, you probably think of discrimination based on things like race, age or sex. While it is true that these are common forms of discrimination, national origin discrimination is another type of discrimination that you may not be as familiar with.

A national origin group, also called an ethnic group, is a group of individuals who share a common ancestry, culture, language, race or certain other traits.

What is national origin discrimination?

National origin discrimination is discriminating against someone because they, or their ancestors, are from a certain place. It also means discriminating against someone because of their physical characteristics, language or culture.

Discriminating against someone because they are from a certain place does not just mean another country. National origin discrimination can happen to someone who is from a different region in the United States, or a place that is not technically a country, but is associated with another country or culture.

Discrimination by association or perception

What you may not realize is that national origin discrimination can involve discrimination based on association or perception. Discriminating against someone because they associate with someone from a particular ethnic background is considered national origin discrimination.

The most common example of discrimination by association is discriminating against someone because they are married to someone of a different ethnicity or national origin.

National origin discrimination based on perception means discriminating against someone because they are perceived to be a certain ethnicity. For example, an employer who discriminates against someone because they believe they are Arabic, even if they are not, is still engaging in discrimination based on perception.

Identifying national origin discrimination

It is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their national origin. Because national origin discrimination comes in so many different forms, it can be difficult to determine if you are a victim of it, or as an employer, if you are engaging in it.

Employment attorneys provide helpful and valuable advice based on your specific scenario. Everyone’s situation is unique, so having accurate information is important.