Accent Reduction online by Judy Tobe

Discrimination in the Workplace because of an Accent

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The EEOC includes accent bias in its definition of employment discrimination on the basis of national origin. An employment decision based on a foreign accent violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unless it "materially interferes" with that person's ability to perform the duties of the job.

Because linguistic characteristics are a component of national origin, employers should carefully scrutinize employment decisions that are based on an accent to ensure that they do not violate Title VII.

An employment decision based on a foreign accent does not violate Title VII if an individual's accent materially interferes with the ability to perform job duties. This assessment depends on the specific duties of the person in question and the extent to which the individual's accent affects his or her ability to perform job duties. Employers must distinguish between a merely discernible foreign accent and one that interferes with communication skills necessary to perform the job.

Do you feel that you have ever been discriminated against because of your accent?  

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Judy Tobe published on October 6, 2010 8:16 AM.

Beware - Your Accent May Be Affecting Your Credibility was the previous entry in this blog.

Intonation in Questions is the next entry in this blog.

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