Maryland Employment Attorneys

Ethnicity & National Origin Discrimination

While employees can pay and treat employees differently based on performance and qualifications, it is illegal to treat employees differently based on their ethnicity and the traditions, behaviors, and customs associated with their ethnicity. This constitutes ethnic discrimination, which is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Ethnicity extends beyond features such as skin color, eye color, and elements of physical appearance. Rather, ethnicity includes characteristics derived from the country of origin that a person identifies with, and includes traditions, learned behaviors and customs.

Ethnic discrimination can appear in various aspects of employment, and has a negative impact on employment in areas such as hiring and testing; pay, promotions, and benefits; jobs assignments and training. Ethnic discrimination can also involve decision making based on stereotypes of ethnic groups.


Ethnic discrimination may take the following forms:

  • Unfair interview selection based upon ethnic criteria, such as a name sounding “foreign”.
  • Policies or job requirements which unfairly affect persons of a particular ethnic group, or those married to or associated with a particular ethnic group, and are not job related.
  • Denying job opportunities, promotions, or placement based on ethnic or ethnic-related criteria, for example, not placing a qualified Hispanic worker in a customer service position based on ethnic factors rather than work ability.


Ethnic discrimination may also take the form of harassment. A key component of harassment is that it is unwelcome. This may take the form of ethnic jokes, slurs, badgering, graffiti, or any unwelcome comments regarding ethnicity.


When considering an ethnic discrimination case, the courts will also look at factors such as:

  • Membership in a protected class. Any time your ethnicity factors into a decision about employment, you are a member of a protected class.
  • Job qualification. You must show you were sufficiently and/or equally qualified for a job.
  • Were you terminated, suspended, demoted, underpaid, or held back because you are a member of a protected class? There must be a relationship between your protected class status and an employer’s decision.
  • Have you suffered injury? There must be an adverse affect on you, such as losing wages, not getting a promotion, or enduring emotional distress.


Contact our Maryland Employment Lawyers

If you have experienced any of the above, you may have been subjected to illegal ethnic discrimination in the workplace, and may benefit from a consultation with an attorney at Zipin, Amster & Greenberg.