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James Tarquin, P.A
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Are American-Born Employees Protected From National Origin Discrimination?

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Having represented employment discrimination victims for more than twenty years, our employment lawyers in Marion County, Florida know that a common employment law myth is that employees born in the United States are not protection from national origin discrimination. Because of this employment law myth, many employees are unaware that they have meritorious claims for national origin discrimination under federal employment discrimination law. In this article, our employment lawyers in Marion County, Florida explain how the decision in Goyette v. DCA Advertising, Inc.,828 F.Supp. 227 (S.D. N.Y. 1993) shows that American-born employees are protected from national origin discrimination.

What is National Origin Discrimination?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) protects employees from discrimination on the basis of national origin. Because Title VII does not define the term “national origin,” employees may not know their national origin for purposes of discrimination protection. In Espinoza v. Farah Manufacturing Company., Inc., 414 U.S. 86 (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court defined a national origin as the “country where a person was born, or, more broadly, the country from which his or her ancestors came.” Thus, as court in Pejic v. Hughes Helicopters, Inc., 840 F.2d 667 (9th Cir. 1988) observed, the term “national origin” includes the “country of one’s ancestors.” Under the Supreme Court’s definition of national origin, therefore, an employee’s national origin for purposes of Title VII is the country where the employee was born or the country from where the employee’s ancestors came.

National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit

In Goyette, a man named Goyette brought a national origin discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, DCA Advertising, Inc. (“DCA”), pursuant to Title VII. Goyette, who is American born, claims that he was fired because of his American national origin in violation of Title VII.

Dentsu, Inc. (“Dentsu”) is an advertising and communications company based in Tokyo. In 1983, Dentsu entered into a joint venture with an American advertising agency, Young and Rubicam (“Y & R”), to form a new advertising agency named DYR. Three years later, Y & R sold its 50% interest in DYR to Dentsu. Dentsu then renamed the company DCA. DCA, an American corporation, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dentsu, with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

In April 1985, Goyette was hired by DYR. In June 1985, DYR named Goyette vice president. When Dentsu acquired all of DYR and renamed it DCA, Y & R took the Heublein account on which Goyette had been working. Consequently, the Heublein management requested that Goyette be transferred to Y & R to continue servicing Heublein brands. DCA management, however, asked Goyette to stay with DCA. DCA felt that Goyette’s marketing expertise would be valuable in attracting and servicing new clients. Goyette remained with DCA. In February 1988, DCA promoted Goyette to vice president, group account director of DCA. In that position, Goyette supervised numerous accounts, including Japan airlines and Nikko Hotels.

In September 1990, DCA terminated Goyette. DCA chose to retain a man named Nakahara, a Japanese-American as the only other vice president, group account director, over Goyette, even though the two performed equivalently. Additionally, after Goyette’s termination, DCA assigned Goyette’s duties on Japan airlines and Nikko Hotels to his former subordinates, Ishi, a Dentsu expatriate, and Yamaguchi, a Japanese-American. DCA claims that it fired Goyette because he was unqualified and was losing money for DCA.

After his discharge, Goyette approached DCA’s president, Naito, to complain about his discharge and the favoritism with which DCA treated its Japanese employees. Goyette asked Naito for alternative employment with another Dentsu affiliate. In response, Naito allegedly told Goyette, “I’m sorry. We have to treat Americans and Japanese differently. We have to favor the Japanese.”

American-Born Employees Protected

DCA filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Goyette’s national origin discrimination claim. The trial court denied the motion for dismissal and ruled that Goyette had presented sufficient evidence to proceed to a jury trial on his claim that he was fired because of his American national origin in violation of Title VII.

In denying DCA’s motion for dismissal, the trial court explained that employees of American national origin are protected from national origin discrimination under Title VII. In applying this principle, the trial court found that Goyette’s evidence was sufficient to establish that he was fired because of his American national origin. In support of its finding, the trial court pointed out that DCA’s president, Naito, purportedly made remarks regarding the preferential treatment of Japanese employees. The trial court also noted that another DCA employee, Kennedy, testified that a DCA vice president told Kennedy that Kennedy’s “possibilities for promotion at DCA were limited because [he was] not Japanese.” Based on this evidence, the trial court concluded that a jury could reasonable jury could find that the proffered reason for Goyette’s termination “was pretextual” and the real reason was Goyette’s American national origin.

Free Consultation For Discrimination Victims

One of the most important decisions employment discrimination victims must make is which employment law attorneys to consult with regarding their employee rights under employment discrimination law. As part of our dedication to helping employment discrimination victims, an experienced employment law attorney will speak with you personally and you will receive the individualized attention your case deserves. We offer free confidential case evaluations for employees, and you will not have to pay to speak with our employment attorneys regarding your employee rights. We are available for consultation at your convenience, including scheduling telephone consultations for evenings and weekends.

Marion County Employment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our employment attorneys in Marion County, Florida have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of employment discrimination victims. If you experienced workplace discrimination or have questions about your employee rights under employment discrimination law, please contact our office for a free consultation with our employment lawyers in Marion County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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