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I worked for a Korean company for 3 months and was recently terminated because
management wanted a Korean co-worker to take my position. According to him, he
didn’t need 2 admin and he chose the only other Korean in the department to take
my place. The problem with that is that I was the only admin for that department
of 50 people. My Korean co-worker was titled as, ‘Data/Recruiter’, not admin.
Not only that, but she has no admin background. I strongly believe that I was let
go because I was not the ‘right’ ethnicity and through his eyes, admin was a
higher position that only ‘appropriate’ employees should obtain. Do I have a
case? I don’t have much tangible evidence since it was so sudden. What can I do
in terms of legal action? What would be the outcome?
Asked on May 17, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 2 years ago | Contributor
If a Korean company let go the non-Korean employee while keeping the Korean one *for the same or similar job*, that may be enough for a race- or national-origin-based employment discrimination claim. Employers may not prefer one race/ethnicity/etc. over another. It would seem to at least be enough to, were a complaint filed with the EEOC or your states' equal/civil rights agency, to then shift the "burden of proof" to the employer to come forward with evidence supporting a non-discriminatory reason for the decision (e.g. differences in employee qualifications, experience, etc. which made the Korean the better or more valuable fit). Even if the job title is not the same, if the Korean employee is basically doing your job, you would at least have enough to bring forward a claim.
If the remaining employee is, however, in fact doing a very different job than you, then you most likely would not have a viable claim: a company could decide they need job A and not job B, and because that is a decision based on the job or position, not the employee, would not be discrimination.
Since you evidently believe there is at least a chance that discrimination was involved, a good idea for you would be to contact the EEOC or your state's agency with a complaint: let the agency look into it and see if they believe there is something to it.
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