National Origin Discrimination In California

Federal and California state laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of an individual’s national origin. While national origin is protected, citizenship, however, is not.

What is national origin discrimination?

National origin broadly refers to the country where a person was born or where his or her ancestry comes from, and it includes any display of the physical and cultural traits of a particular national group. National origin generally means “ancestry.”

National origin discrimination occurs when an employer discriminates against an employee on the basis of his or her national origin and/or ancestry.

What acts by an employer constitute national origin discrimination?

• A rule that requires employees to speak English at all times in the workplace constitutes national origin discrimination because it disadvantages employees whose primary language is other than English.

• An employer who believes an employee to be of one nationality and discriminates against him or her on the basis of that belief,–even though the employee is not of that nationality–, constitutes national origin discrimination.

• An employer may not discriminate against an employee who merely associates with an identifiable national group, even though the employee may not be a member of that group.


The following remedies are available for national origin discrimination:

  • Backpay
  • Reinstatement or front pay
  • Injunctive relief
  • Reasonable attorney fees and court costs
  • Compensatory damages for pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages