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National Origin Discrimination: Employment Lessons from Higher Education

| Dec 10, 2013 | National Origin Discrimination, Race Discrimination, Wrongful Termination |

Attorney Answers: “I’m being discriminated because I’m Arab. What should I do?”, “How do I stop my boss from racially discriminating?” “I’ve been fired. Help!”

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Some issues in the world of employment are simple to understand. For example, the idea that employers cannot discriminate against employees based on race or national origin. Several state and federal laws make sure that employees are protected from certain types of conduct. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio’s anti-discrimination laws, R.C. § 4112.99, employers are prohibited from treating employees differently based on race or national origin.

Simple right? “Not so fast” said a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Ohio. The court in Ali Al-Maqablh v. University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, went through a lengthy analysis to determine that a graduate assistant and student at the University’s medical school was not an “employee” and therefore was not covered under the umbrella of protections Title VII provides. Keep reading!

Al-Maqablh, the student in this case, believed that he was kicked out of the school’s medical program because he was being discriminated against based on his country of origin (Jordan) and his race (Arab). The University objected to this characterization of the situation and claimed that the decision to remove Al-Maqablh from the program was based entirely on academic performance.

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In order to move the case forward, the Court had to determine if Al-Maqablh was strictly a student, or if he was an employee. Al-Maqablh demonstrated that he received a paycheck, paid federal and state taxes on his wages, and provided services to the University through his research projects.

The Court rejected Al-Maqablh’s arguments by looking at the “economic realities” of the situation. The Court basically said that Al-Maqablh received a paystub but it was for a stipend based on his scholarship, not for services provided. The Court also found that his primary purpose at the University was for education.

Although it seems like this student got schooled, there are valuable lessons to be learned from Al-Maqablh’s case. The Court seemed to warn that the “economic realities” test may come out differently in other graduate assistant situations because the test isn’t a hard line rule, it should be viewed on a case-by-case basis.

The Court left open the possibility that some graduate assistants may not be viewed as students and it really just depends on the situation. The last lesson here is that you don’t need to hit the books yourself if you think you may be facing discrimination and are unsure if the services you are providing to another institution, individual, corporation, or company create an employer-employee relationship.

If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your race or national origin, whatever race  or national origin that may be, then call the right attorney. Race and national origin discrimination includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, and denied wages. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from The Spitz Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims.

Disclaimer:
The materials available at the top of this race  and national origin discrimination page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking: “What should I do …”, “I’m being discriminated against …”, “my boss is discriminating against me because …” or “How do I …”, your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to race discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.