Accent Discrimination Law and Legal Definition

Accent discrimination refers to unjustified discrimination against employees who speak English with an accent.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website on accent discrimination is as follows:

An employment decision based on foreign accent does not violate Title VII if an individual's accent materially interferes with the ability to perform job duties. This assessment depends upon the specific duties of the position in question and the extent to which the individual's accent affects his/her ability to perform job duties. Employers should distinguish between a merely discernible foreign accent and one that interferes with communication skills necessary to perform job duties. Generally, an employer may only base an employment decision on accent if effective oral communication in English is required to perform job duties and the individual's foreign accent materially interferes with his/her ability to communicate orally in English. Positions for which effective oral communication in English may be required include teaching, customer service, and telemarketing. Even for these positions, an employer must still determine whether the particular individual's accent interferes with the ability to perform job duties.