How can I stop harassment based on my ethnicity or religion?

Question

I work as an airline mechanic. My coworkers are always calling me names and making fun of me because I'm from the Middle East (Iran) and I practice Islam. It used to be just occasional jokes, but recently it has gotten completely out of control. What should I do about this?

Answer

You're not alone. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC (the government agency that deals with job discrimination), complaints of discrimination based on national origin are on the rise.

You have the right to work free from harassment or discrimination based on your ethnicity. Your first step in enforcing that right is to make a complaint to your employer. If your company has an official complaint procedure, follow that process. If not, go to the person who holds the highest position in the human resources department or to a high-ranking company executive. Explain what's going on, who's involved, and that you want it to stop. If the company investigates your complaint (which it should), be prepared to cooperate. Document your discussions and keep track of any documentation you receive from the employer.

If the company doesn't do anything to stop the harassment, or if the company's efforts aren't effective, go to the local office of the EEOC or your state agency that deals with fair employment practices (every state has one). That agency will help you file a discrimination complaint. It may also take other action to resolve the complaint, including investigating, trying to negotiate a settlement, or filing a lawsuit on your behalf.

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