When you think about discrimination in California, chances are that you think about race, gender or sexual orientation. But did you know that discrimination also includes language?
What is language discrimination?
Language discrimination is the act of treating someone differently because of the language they speak. This is a subset of a more common form of discrimination known as national origin discrimination.
National origin discrimination is when someone gets treated differently because of their country of origin or the ethnicity of their ancestors. Language discrimination is a specific form of national origin discrimination that focuses on the use of language.
How does it occur?
In a work setting, language discrimination can occur when an employer or employee discriminates against someone because of their accent, their country of origin, the range of their vocabulary and other characteristics related to their use of language. In the U.S., it can also occur when an employer or employee discriminates against someone or terminates them illegally because they don’t speak English in a certain way. This can be a challenge for immigrants who are trying to sharpen their English skills and get ahead in their careers.
In a social setting, language discrimination can occur when someone gets harassed or ridiculed because of the way they speak. This type of discrimination can also lead to people getting excluded from social activities or being denied services.
What steps should you take?
If someone fired you because of your language, you may have a wrongful termination case. You can report the discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or make a claim in civil court.
The EEOC is a government agency that investigates workplace discrimination. If the EEOC determines that you have been discriminated against, they may file a lawsuit on your behalf.
If you’ve been facing discrimination because of your language skills, national origin, accent or other characteristics related to your native language, you are not alone. Thankfully, there are laws in place to protect you from this type of discrimination. If you have been wrongfully terminated, you can seek redress through the EEOC or litigation.