People who identify themselves as Native Americans and believe they have been discriminated against may be able to sue based on two distinct claims for the same characteristic. Such individuals can claim discrimination based on national origin or race.
As a practical matter, that means the employee can sue under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (for race and national-origin discrimination) and under the Civil War era Section 1981 (for race discrimination).
Recent case: David Torgerson, who claims to be of Native American origin, applied for a job as a firefighter with the city of Rochester. When he was not hired, he filed a lawsuit alleging national-origin discrimination under Section 1981. He never claimed race discrimination. Because of that technicality, his lawsuit was dismissed. (Torgerson v. City of Rochester, No. 07-1968, DC MN, 2008)
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