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Race, national origin aren’t synonymous

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Kyaw Nyunt, a U.S. citizen of Burmese origin, worked for the government agency that broadcasts Voice of America radio programming. After the agency failed to promote Nyunt several times, he filed a complaint alleging age and national origin discrimination. Then he filed a federal lawsuit alleging age, national origin and race discrimination.

The agency asked the court to throw out Nyunt’s race charge since he hadn’t alleged such discrimination in his internal complaint. Nyunt said complaining of national origin discrimination was the same as complaining of racial discrimination. The court disagreed, concluding that Congress wouldn’t have created two separate categories if it thought the two were the same. It tossed the race claim. (Nyunt v. Tomlinson, No. 06-1152, DC DC, 2008)

Advice: Remember, employees can conceivably charge multiple kinds of discrimination. Your only sure bet is to make sure you treat everyone fairly and your decisions don’t favor any particular group.

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