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Despite numerous federal and state laws making it illegal to engage in various forms of discrimination in the workplace in the United States, employment discrimination continues to occur at an alarming rate. With the immigrants continuing to enter the workplace in the United States, one common question we are often asked by workers is “ I believe I was discriminated against because of my accent. Is this covered under national origin? ” The simple answer to that question is “yes”, employment discrimination based on your accent is considered illegal discrimination in the U.S.

Both state and federal law include “national origin” as a protected characteristic with regard to discrimination in the workplace. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on your national origin in the workplace. At the state level, the Florida Civil Right Act also includes “national origin” as a protected characteristic.

Discrimination based on national origin involves treating an employee unfavorably in any aspect of employment “because they are from a particular country or part of the world, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be of a certain ethnic background (even if they are not).” As you can see “accent” is specifically mentioned under the national origin description.

Discrimination based on your accent could take various forms, including, but not limited to:

  • Refusing to hire you because of your accent.
  • Not promoting you to higher paying or more desirable positions because you have an accent.
  • Harassing you about your accent.
  • Making fun of your accent

Under the national origin test, an employer cannot base an employment decision on the presence of an employee’s accent unless the employee’s accent seriously interferes with the worker’s ability to do his or her job. Whether or not an accent “seriously interferes” with an employee’s work is something that can only be determined after investigating the unique facts and circumstances of your situation. For this reason, if you believe you have suffered discrimination based on your accent you should consult with an experienced Florida employment law attorney right away to determine if you are the victim of illegal discrimination. Contact the experienced Florida employment law attorneys at Celler Legal, P.A. by calling 954-716-8601 to schedule your appointment.