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Wise up to national-origin bias rules; claims spiked in 2002

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Acquaint yourself with newly updated guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that teach employers how to foster work environments free of national-origin discrimination. Coming on the heels of 9/11, such discrimination complaints rose by more than 12 percent in fiscal 2002, the largest one-year jump ever.

Title VII bans national-origin bias at companies with 15 or more employees. Key points of the law: You can't make an employment decision based on the fact that an employee has a foreign accent unless the accent "materially interferes" with her job performance. And you can establish an English fluency requirement only if it's required for the "effective performance" of the job.

Little known fact: The law also makes it illegal to treat someone less favorably at work because he is married to someone of a particular nationality, or has some other association with that person.

Find the new guidance, an employer's Q&A and other compliance tools at the EEOC's new national-origin Web site, www.eeoc.gov/origin.

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