Legal Alert: Does Foreign Accent Equal National Origin?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Â§2000e et seq., prohibits an employer from discriminating against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that individual's national origin. 42 U.S.C. Â§2000e-2. Linguistic characteristics, such as an individual's accent or pattern of speech, are an important aspect of an individual's national origin. As such, before an employer makes any comments or employment decisions based on an individual's accent or pattern of speech, he or she must carefully scrutinize the decision to ensure that it complies with Title VII.