After widespread reports about the development of novel coronavirus and the crisis in the city of Wuhan, China, Chinese and Chinese American workers have noted multiple incidents of harassment and discrimination, including in the workplace. People in California of Asian descent reported facing unfair and discriminatory treatment both as workers and as customers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an instruction to employers reminding them of the importance of protecting Asian and Asian American workers from discrimination and racism on the job.
A CDC statement noted that risks of the virus in the United States remain low, but some people who are from China or who have traveled to China have faced restrictions on the job. While the virus originated in Wuhan, there is no general link between Chinese people and novel coronavirus, which remains far less of a widespread danger than the more typical flu. The CDC noted that workplaces should not discriminate against people of Asian descent due to coronavirus fears or assume Asian people are more likely to have the virus.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin, all of which may be involved in discrimination against Asian American workers related to coronavirus. National origin discrimination means that employers treat people differently in terms of hiring, promotion, job duties or termination, due to them coming from a certain country or because they appear to have a certain ethnic heritage. National origin discrimination is unlawful, as is retaliation against workers who report this form of mistreatment.
Despite the law, people continue to face various forms of workplace discrimination, which can limit their career options and cost them thousands of dollars. An employment law attorney may help clients who have been discriminated against to protect their rights and seek accountability.