Employers who engage in Russian national origin discrimination violate New York City, state, and federal laws. Russian citizens have been immigrating to New York City since the 1800s. In the late 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev allowed Russians to leave Russia more freely, and in 1989, the United States gave refugee status to Soviet Jews. As a result, New York City has become home to a significant population of Russian immigrants. Brighton Beach, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, is well known for its high population of Russian-speaking immigrants. Unfortunately, some New York employers continue to engage in Russian national origin discrimination, making finding and keeping employment more difficult for some Russian immigrants.
National origin discrimination happens when an employer takes adverse action against an employee or job applicant because of his or her national origin. Russian national origin discrimination could include mistreating someone because of her Russian accent, ethnic background, or birthplace. While local, state, and federal laws all prohibit Russian national origin discrimination, succeeding in a discrimination claim can be challenging. Most employers do not make overt discriminatory statements about their employee’s national origins. At Lipsky Lowe LLP, our employment attorneys are skilled in investigating Rusian national origin discrimination claims. Contact our employment law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.
Russian National Origin Discrimination is Prohibited
National origin discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee less favorably because of any of the following:
- The employee’s accent
- The employee’s ethnic background
- An employee’s culture
- The country or location from which the employee’s ancestors came
- The fact that the employee was born in or came from a particular place
- The employer believes that the employee has a specific ethnic background
Employers cannot deny an employee equal employment opportunity because the employee or the employee’s family are from Russia, have a Russian accent, or have an accent associated with a particular national origin group.
What Constitutes Unequal Treatment?
Employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their national origin. Anti-discrimination laws protect employees in all employment decision making processes. For example, employers cannot engage in Russian national origin discrimination when doing any of the following:
- Determining which job applicants to interview based on their Russian origin
- Determining which job applicants to hire based on the applicant’s Russian origin
- Deciding the terms and conditions of employment based on the applicant’s Russian origins
- Engage in recruitment practices that exclude or discourage Russian applicants
- Terminating an employee’s employment based on their Russian origins
- Paying Russian employees less than non-Russian employees
- Offering better working conditions to non-Russian employees
- Offering promotions to non-Russian employees and not Russian employees
When Does Teasing Turn into Discrimination or Harassment?
Isolated mean comments or teasing may create a hostile work environment. However, proving that a hostile work environment exists may not be enough to recover damages from employers. Harassment based on an employee’s Russian national origin must rise above teasing and causes tangible, adverse employment effects. For example, the harassment must result in the employee suffering adverse consequences in the workplace for the claim to be successful.
Examples of Russian National Origin Discrimination
Most employers are aware that engaging in Russian national origin discrimination is unlawful in New York. For that reason, most employers won’t make blatant statements such as “I don’t want to hire any Russians.” If direct evidence of national origin discrimination exists, the evidence will go a long way in proving the victim’s case. More commonly, evidence of Russian national origin discrimination is less obvious and more subtle.
Our attorneys conduct thorough investigations to find circumstantial evidence of national origin discrimination to help prove our client’s case. A few examples of possible Russian national origin discrimination include the following:
- An employer will not allow anyone with a Russian accent to help company customers
- An employer refuses to schedule interviews for applicants with Russian-sounding names
- An employer pays Russian employees less than employees of other national origins
- An employer fosters an environment that leads to harassment based on national origin
- An employer discriminates against an employee based on his association with Russians
- An employer discriminates against an employee for his marriage to a Russian person
- An employee discriminates against an employee for participating in Russian groups
- An employer only requires Russian employees to submit work authorization documents
- An employer only allows non-Russian employees to attend training seminars
Can Employers Discriminate Against Employees Who Speak Russian?
Employers have a right to establish English-only rules but only in narrow circumstances. English-only rules are only legal if the company enacts them for nondiscriminatory reasons. The employer must use the English-only rules to promote the necessary operations and safety of the employer’s businesses.
Which Laws Protect Employees from National Origin Discrimination?
The following local, state, and federal laws prohibit employment discrimination based on national origin:
- The Civil Rights Act
- The Immigration Reform and Control Act
- New York and New York City human rights laws
Additionally, the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) prohibits national origin discrimination. The IRCA applies to businesses that employ four or more employees. Employers that might fall outside of the purview of the Civil Rights Act could be subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the IRCA. Employers may still verify the eligibility of new employees in terms of immigration eligibility. However, the IRCA prohibits employers from discriminating against immigrants with work visas or non-immigrants in favor of United States citizens.
Contact Our Russian National Origin Discrimination Lawyers
The United States has always been a melting pot. Immigrants built our country and continue to make our country great. If you or a family member have experienced discrimination based on your Russian ancestry or immigration status, you may have a legal claim against your employer. The New York employment lawyers at Lipsky Lowe LLP understand the challenges that Russian immigrants face in New York. Employers who discriminate or harass Russian employees based on their national origin should face the consequences under state and federal laws. Contact our New York City law firm today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how our experienced lawyers can help you and your family.