New National Origin Discrimination Regulations Set Limitations To "English-Only" Rules

New regulations expanding protections for national origin individuals against workplace discrimination went into effect on July 1, 2018, including a ban on language requirements. Employers and employees alike need to know what these new laws mean for their workplace.

Who does it protect?

 Under these new regulations, the definition of a national origin individual has been expanded to include those who are associated with a national origin group in any of the following ways:

  • marriage or namesake
  • school or religious ceremony attendance
  • membership in an organization that promotes national origin interests
  • tribal affiliation
  • common physical, cultural, or linguistic characteristics

What protections are now afforded to those of national origin?

 Language Restrictions

One of the most important changes these new regulations have made is banning restrictions on the use of foreign language in the workplace. Now, employers will have to prove that English fluency is necessary for the completion of a job to make it a prerequisite for employment and will no longer be able to prohibit the speaking of another language during certain times of the day.

Additionally, the new policy also states that those of national origin cannot be discriminated against due to their accent; meaning employers will have to prove that an accent would significantly interfere with the employee’s ability to complete a job to make it a prerequisite for employment.

Worker Eligibility

Employers are now prohibited from inquiring about an employee’s immigration status, except in cases where federal law requires it. Employers are also prohibited from taking negative action against an employee that makes changes to his or her employment documents. This includes changes to the employee's name and/or social security number.

Note: All employees are still required to provide immigration documents when filling out the federal Form I-9.

Height and Weight Requirements

Height and weight requirements could have a significant adverse impact on certain protected classes, and as such the new regulations deemed these restrictions as unlawful; meaning an employer will have to prove that a specific height or weight is necessary for the completion of a job to make it a prerequisite for employment.

Moving Forward

If you are an employee, make sure to speak with your employer about how they will implement these new regulations. If they are not following the laws put into place as of July 1, 2018, let them know, and if the issue is not addressed, you may have a case for discrimination in the workplace.

If you have questions about the legal implications of these new regulations, please feel free to contact us at 310-474-1582 for a free consultation. McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP is here to fight for you!

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