Friday, June 24, 2005

A Question of Citizenship - Title VII Protection Ends for Some

Title VII protection ends at the border for non-U.S. citizens

Non-U.S. citizens who work in a foreign country for an American-controlled operator may not bring suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 according to the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. From SHRM Online...

Under Title VII, persons working in a foreign country meet the definition of “employee” only if they are U.S. citizens. At stake was whether the courts would extend Title VII protection to a much broader range of plaintiffs, including “nationals”—citizens or persons that are considered by the Immigration and Nationality Act to “owe allegiance” to the United States.

Vladimir Shekoyan was born in Armenia and immigrated to the United States in 1994. He obtained the status of a lawful permanent resident (LPR) in 1996, applied for citizenship in 2001, and became a naturalized American citizen in 2003. Shekoyan’s employment dispute arose during the period that he was an LPR.

Sibley International, headquartered in Washington, D.C., hired Shekoyan in January 1998. The parties entered into a 21-month employment contract stating that Shekoyan’s place of employment was Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia.

When Sibley did not extend his employment contract, Shekoyan sued, charging that his supervisor discriminated against him on the basis of his national origin in violation of Title VII. Shekoyan alleged that his supervisor told him that he was not a “real American,” mocked his use of English and generally disfavored persons from the former Soviet Union.

The trial court dismissed Shekoyan’s claim on the theory that Title VII does not protect aliens who work for American-controlled companies outside of the United States.

We will surely be hearing more about this in the news. To read the full article, click here (and have your SHRM membership number and password handy!)

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