- The EEOC plans to make immigrants’ rights a priority under its Strategic Enforcement Plan by announcing an update to its guidance on national origin discrimination — the first in 14 years, Michael Morea, special counsel of Cole Schotz’s Employment and Litigation Departments, told HR Dive.
- Much of the law is left as is, Morea notes, but the update calls on employers to be wary of disparate impact of certain policies. If a policy or rule on its face isn't discriminatory but it ends up discriminating against a certain protective class, it's unlawful.
- National origin discrimination tends to cover a lot of areas that are already protected by other classes, such as race and religion, but it could also protect employees that are from other countries, for example.
Citizenship and immigrant status aren’t included in the definition, but the agency makes clear that Title VII under the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects everyone, regardless of their foreign national, immigration or citizenship status. Discriminatory customer preference is also discussed in the rule, something employers must be wary of.
With a changing administration, it's currently hard to say how the EEOC's priorities will change if they do, Morea notes. However, there could be less emphasis on guides similar to this update in the future.
"A lot of deregulation has been happening, and I've had clients in the last 10 years say that they are in a regulatory environment just being an employer," he added. But overall, he doesn't anticipate much changes just yet.