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If you believe you may have been discriminated against in employment due to your birthplace, ancestry, culture or language, you may submit a discrimination complaint through the TWC Civil Rights Division. To learn more about the complaint process, see How to Submit an Employment Discrimination Complaint.

Texas Labor Code Chapter 21 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of l964 protect individuals against employment discrimination on the basis of national origin. National origin is identified as the birthplace, ancestry, culture or linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group. The law applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, and to all state and local governmental entities no matter how many employees they have.

Equal employment opportunity cannot be denied for any of these reasons:

  • Marriage or association with persons of a national origin group
  • Membership or association with specific ethnic promotion groups
  • Attendance or participation in schools, churches, temples or mosques generally associated with a national origin group
  • A surname associated with a national origin group

The sections below address common concerns related to possible discrimination based on national origin.

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English-Only Rule

An employer may require employees to speak only English at all times on the job if the employer meets all of these requirements:

  • Shows that speaking only English is necessary for conducting business
  • Tells all employees when they must speak English
  • Tells all employees the consequences for violating the rule

If an employer makes negative employment decisions based on an employee breaking an English-only rule, it may be discrimination unless all of three conditions are met.

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Accent or Manner of Speaking

If an employer denies an employment opportunity because of an individual's accent or manner of speaking, the employer must show a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason. A discrimination complaint investigation will focus on the qualifications of the person and whether his or her accent or manner of speaking had a negative effect on job performance.

Requiring employees or applicants to be fluent in English may violate the law if the requirement is adopted to exclude individuals of a particular national origin and is not related to job performance.

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Employers have a responsibility to maintain a workplace free of national origin harassment. An ethnic slur or other verbal or physical conduct because of an individual's nationality constitute harassment if they have any of these effects:

  • Create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment
  • Unreasonably interfere with work performance
  • Negatively affect an individual's employment opportunities

Employers may be responsible for any on-the-job harassment by their agents and supervisory employees, regardless of whether the acts were authorized or specifically forbidden by the employer.

Under certain circumstances, an employer may be responsible for the acts of non-employees who harass their employees at work.

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