The anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law prohibit (inter alia) discrimination based on “national origin.” See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–2(a)(1).
The regulations flesh out this aspect of Title VII as follows:
The Commission defines national origin discrimination broadly as including, but not limited to, the denial of equal employment opportunity because of an individual’s, or his or her ancestor’s, place of origin; or because an individual has the physical, cultural or linguistic characteristics of a national origin group. The Commission will examine with particular concern charges alleging that individuals within the jurisdiction of the Commission have been denied equal employment opportunity for reasons which are grounded in national origin considerations, such as (a) marriage to or association with persons of a national origin group; (b) membership in, or association with an organization identified with or seeking to promote the interests of national origin groups; (c) attendance or participation in schools, churches, temples or mosques, generally used by persons of a national origin group; and (d) because an individual’s name or spouse’s name is associated with a national origin group. In examining these charges for unlawful national origin discrimination, the Commission will apply general title VII principles, such as disparate treatment and adverse impact.
29 C.F.R. § 1606.1.
Courts have explained that national origin is “not synonymous with alienage or citizenship,” which are not protected under Title VII. Liu v. BASF Corp., 609 F.Supp.2d 828, 837 (S.D.Iowa 2009).