Ancestry & Origin Discrimination

Project Description

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Ancestry, Ethnicity, and National Origin Discrimination Lawyers

Ancestry discrimination refers to discrimination on the basis of the nation, country, tribe or other group from which a person descends, along with any cultural characteristics that may accompany such ancestry. Similarly, ethnicity discrimination refers to discrimination on the basis of a person’s participation in a particular cultural or ethnic group. Such discrimination targets a person’s cultural observances, such as customs, holidays, culinary or linguistic preferences. National origin discrimination refers to discrimination based on the nation, country or tribe in which a person was born and/or raised, along with any cultural characteristics that accompany such national origin.

While discrimination on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity, and national origin oftentimes overlap, they are three separate concepts. For example, if an employee is of Korean ancestry, but was born and raised in India, she may be subject to ancestry discrimination based on her Korean ancestry and national origin discrimination based on her Indian birthplace. She may also be subject to ethnicity discrimination based on any cultural observances in which she partakes.

Call Pittsburgh at
(412) 626-5626
Call Philadelphia at
(215) 618-9185
Email KM&A at

Discrimination Law Protections

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law, prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity and national origin. Title VII applies to employers who employ “fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.”

Pennsylvania Human Relations Act

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), which is a state law, prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity, and national origin as well. The PHRA provides protections to those whose employers have four or more employees within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Employment Protections

Under both Title VII and the PHRA, an employer may not discriminate against an employee on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity, or national origin in any material way, including:

  • Hiring
  • Firing/termination
  • Promotions
  • Demotions
  • Compensation, including benefits plans
  • Classification/transfers
  • Job recruiting
  • Training

Additionally, an employer may not discriminate against an employee in any way based on his or her associations with a person of a particular ancestry, ethnicity, or national origin.

Retaliation Protections

In addition to the protections mentioned above, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for reporting discriminatory conduct or for participating in an investigation into discriminatory conduct. While the type of retaliatory conduct will differ in each case, examples of common types of retaliation include:

  • Termination
  • Denial of promotion
  • Demotion
  • Decrease in bonuses or other forms of compensation/benefits
  • Creation of a hostile work environment
  • Unwarranted negative performance evaluations

Fight against Ancestry, Ethnicity, or National Origin Discrimination

Report Discrimination in Your Workplace First

Your employer may have policies regarding ancestry, ethnicity, or national origin discrimination in its handbook. These policies can include reporting requirements and may require you to follow a certain procedure for raising and documenting issues of discrimination within your workplace. You should follow these procedures and document your actions in writing.

It is most likely unnecessary to involve a discrimination attorney in your case at this point. However, you may choose to do so if you are facing resistance to filing your complaint.  Failure to follow your employer’s internal procedures may lead to a denial of damages, so it is important to make sure you have taken advantage of these internal processes if you feel that you have been the victim of ancestry, ethnicity, or national origin discrimination.

File a Charge of Discrimination

If following your employer’s internal procedures for reporting and remedying workplace discrimination has not worked, it may be time to consider taking legal action. Before filing a lawsuit, you are required to file a charge of discrimination with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). The charge of discrimination will lay out the conduct you believe constitutes discriminatory behavior and will allow the agency to investigate your claims. This charge must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory conduct. The agency will investigate your claim and will consider whether to attempt to mediate a solution or file a lawsuit against your employer on your behalf.

While it is possible to take this initial step without the assistance of an attorney, complying with agency procedures can be confusing and frustrating for those without prior experience. If you require assistance with your discrimination charge, we recommend that you speak with one of the lawyers at KM&A. Our attorneys have experience navigating the agency landscape and can help ensure you are following the proper procedures and do not miss any deadlines.

File a Lawsuit

If, six months after your filing with the EEOC or PHRC, the agency has not been able to mediate a satisfactory outcome and has not filed a lawsuit against your employer, you can request a Right to Sue letter allowing you to personally file a lawsuit against your employer in court. While litigation can be expensive and time-consuming, a successful ancestry or national origin discrimination lawsuit can lead to a variety of remedies, including back pay, wages and benefits lost as a result of the discrimination, reinstatement, front pay, and attorney’s fees.

The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney

Sometimes, an employment discrimination attorney is capable of obtaining an outcome that you would not otherwise be able to achieve.  Having an employment discrimination attorney involved in the case may prompt an employer to change their policies and/or behavior without the need to file a formal complaint.  An experienced ancestry or national origin discrimination attorney who is used to investigating workplace discrimination may be able to find additional supporting evidence for your claim.

Additionally, an employment discrimination attorney will make sure that you do not miss any filing deadlines.  It is important to file your claims with the appropriate offices within a certain time frame, and an experienced ancestry or national origin discrimination attorney is used to meeting those deadlines.  If your case progresses to a lawsuit, having an attorney on your side is crucial.

Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at 215-618-9185. KM&A can be reached by email at

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