Texas workers may have heard about an employment law case brought by 30 employees who say that they were unlawfully replaced. They claim that they were replaced because of their race and national origin by foreign workers who held HB-1 temporary work visas. According to the Justice Department, those and other workers could have valid citizenship discrimination claims under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
However, it is not clear whether they have a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A big issue that anyone bringing such a suit would face is proving that employers committed intentional or unintentional discrimination under that law. In a 1973 Supreme Court decision, the court ruled 8-1 that Title VII could prohibit citizenship discrimination. According to the ruling, this could be true if it either discriminated against or had the effect of discriminating against individuals based on national origin.
According to the ruling in Espinoza v. Farah Manufacturing Co., national origin is defined by Title VII as where a worker was born or where his or her ancestors were from. Those proceeding with a claim of citizenship discrimination based on Title VII would need direct or indirect evidence from an employer. This may mean showing that a protected worker was doing a good job before being terminated and replaced by someone outside of that class.
Those who believe that their employers have violated labor law may wish to talk with an attorney. An attorney may be able to establish either directly or indirectly that a worker was terminated because of his or her country of origin, age or gender. If successful, a worker may be entitled to back pay and interest as well as potential reinstatement to their current position.