When an employee or applicant wants to initiate a race or national-origin discrimination case, the first step is filing an EEOC complaint. The forms include boxes to check, designating the kind of bias alleged.
Failing to check a box means losing out on a claim. However, because the term “Hispanic” can refer to either race or national origin, courts hesitate to toss out a case because the individual didn’t check both boxes.
Recent case: Sonya, who describes herself as Hispanic, claimed she was fired from her job at Texas State University because of her race, national origin and sex. But on her EEOC form, she only checked the box for national-origin discrimination.
The university tried to have the race-bias claim dismissed, but the court refused. Checking one box was enough. (Lopez v. Texas State University, No. 03-10-00867, Court of Appeals of Texas, 2012)