An employee's accent is often connected to their national origin, which is a protected characteristic under state and federal law. According to the EEOC, workplace discrimination complaints based on national origin rose between 1997 and 2011. It can be challenging to prove accent discrimination in the workplace, making it important to hire an experienced national origin discrimination attorney. At Wiley Walsh, P.C., our Austin accent discrimination lawyers can provide knowledgeable counsel and representation to people facing discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in the workplace.Pursuing Compensation for Accent Discrimination
Accent discrimination occurs when an employer makes an adverse employment decision based on an employee's accent. For example, if an employer refuses to hire a qualified scientist because of their Persian accent, this may be accent discrimination. Similarly, if an employer refuses to provide training because of an employee's Nigerian accent, this would be accent discrimination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title VII, which prohibits national origin discrimination. In its guidance, it requires employers to distinguish between a foreign accent that is simply discernible and one that interferes with an employee's ability to communicate. An employer can decide not to hire, promote, or advance an employee to a job that requires clear oral communication in English only if the accent substantially affects their ability to communicate clearly. For example, teaching to English-speaking students and telemarketing to English-speaking customers may require more effective oral communication in English than some other positions. However, if an accent does not affect others' ability to understand the employee, it is impermissible for the employer to base employment decisions on it. An accent discrimination attorney can help Austin residents determine whether the law has been violated in their specific situation.
For example, an employer cannot choose to keep an employee from a customer-facing position only because of a mild Mexican accent, claiming that it wants to maintain a certain atmosphere in its haute cuisine restaurant. Similarly, a hedge fund cannot adopt a blanket position that people with an accent cannot be promoted to a management role.
Harassment is a form of employment discrimination. You may be able to recover compensation if you are harassed because of your accent. Harassment occurs when actions or speech in the workplace are so severe or pervasive that they create a working environment that is offensive or hostile. If you are called derogatory names by your supervisor because of your accent, your employer may be strictly liable for the hostile work environment that is created.
Your employer must know about the harassment and fail to do anything to correct it in order to be held liable for harassment by coworkers. For example, if your coworkers send around memes about your accent on a daily basis, and you report the matter to HR, but HR does nothing to correct the problem, the employer can be held liable for damages.
Both federal and state laws prohibit employer retaliation against an employee who engages in a protected activity, such as complaining about accent discrimination or participating in a coworker's accent discrimination claim. As long as you have a good-faith belief that you were subjected to discrimination because of your accent, you are protected from retaliation.
Before filing a lawsuit, you will need to file a charge or claim with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission. There are strict time limits for filing your charge or claim. Accordingly, it is important to consult an attorney about the specifics of your situation as soon as you believe that you were subjected to accent discrimination.Discuss Your Needs with an Experienced Accent Discrimination Lawyer in Austin
You may be entitled to damages if you were terminated, fired, harassed, demoted, or paid differently because of your accent. If your employer has committed accent discrimination against you, you should consult an employment discrimination attorney with experience in Title VII and Texas Labor Code litigation. The Austin accent discrimination attorneys at Wiley Walsh, P.C. represent people in cities such as Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to schedule an appointment.