U.S. law says ‘Go back to where you came from’ counts as discrimination
WASHINGTON, DC –According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with enforcing laws prohibiting workplace discrimination, cites “go back to where you came from” as a remark that may constitute unlawful harassment based on national origin.
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” after the lawmakers, all four American citizens, criticized him. Three of the four women were born in the U.S., and one came from Somalia as a child.
The tweet ignited a firestorm in Washington and caused the House to quickly show support for the women by passing a resolution Tuesday condemning the tweets.
The EEOC specifically cites the phrase “Go back to where you came from” as the type of language that could violate anti-discrimination employment laws in certain circumstances. The phrase is nearly identical to what Trump wrote in his tweets about the congresswomen: “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
On Monday, a day after Trump made his tweets, the EEOC tweeted about how an employee can submit a charge of discrimination, prompting some Twitter users to link the President’s tweets to the regulations.
“Ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct because of nationality are illegal if they are severe or pervasive and create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, interfere with work performance, or negatively affect job opportunities,” the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states in a passage on its website.
“Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from,’ whether made by supervisors or by co-workers,” the passage reads.
Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, wrote in a tweet that the agency “cites ‘go back to where you came from’ as a classic form of discrimination that violates civil rights,” CNN reported.
“The President’s bigoted words are so contrary to who we are as a country that we literally have laws against them,” Kaine wrote in the tweet.
Sunny Hostin, a co-host on ABC’s “The View,” wrote in a tweet on Tuesday that “the ‘Go back where you came from’ trope is ‘potentially unlawful conduct’ if uttered by supervisors or co-workers. Just in case people are wondering if it’s ‘racist’,” CNN reported.
The EEOC says on its website that if an individual believes they have been discriminated against at work based on their identity — including their national origin — they can file a “charge of discrimination” with the agency, which “is a signed statement asserting that an employer, union or labor organization engaged in employment discrimination” and requests the agency “to take remedial action.”