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Race, Color, National Origin Discrimination

Discrimination is treating someone differently from others because of a particular characteristic. Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination based upon race, color, or national origin in employment relationships. It is also illegal to retaliate against someone because that person has opposed discrimination, asserted his or her own civil rights or assisted others to do so.

Who is protected against discrimination based on race, color, and national origin?

EVERYONE! Many people believe that minorities have greater rights under the anti-discrimination laws than others, but that is not true. All people fall within the definition of race, color, and national origin and all have equal protection under the law. However, most of the complaints received by the IHRC about race, national origin, or color discrimination come from persons of Hispanic, African-American, or Native American descent. Persons who are discriminated against because of their association with minorities or minority organizations are also covered by the law.

What are some examples of discriminatory employment practices?

Discrimination comes in many forms. Here are some examples:

What are examples of employment practices that might appear to be unfair but are actually legal under the anti-discrimination laws?

"National origin" and "citizenship" are different legal concepts and are treated differently under the law

"National origin" refers to the country from which an individual or her/his forbears came; it does not refer to whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Anti-discrimination laws protect citizens and non-citizens alike from discrimination based on race, national origin, or color. However, the laws enforced by the IHRC do not protect an individual who believes that he/she has been discriminated against because of the particular citizenship held: U.S. citizen or citizen of another country.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which is enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, does prohibit discrimination based upon citizenship status, unless U.S. citizenship is required by law, regulation, or executive order. Therefore, if individuals who are legally authorized to work in the United States feel they have been discriminated against because of citizenship status, they may contact the U.S. Department of Justice for assistance at the following location:
Contact the Commission

What Should You Do If You Think You Are The Victim Of Discrimination?

Contact the Idaho Human Rights Commission as soon as possible!Contact the Commission

Explain to an Intake Officer what happened and why you think it was illegal discrimination. Your intake call is confidential. The IHRC will not contact the person you believe discriminated against you unless you give permission or decide to file a formal complaint of discrimination. There is a Spanish speaker on staff.

The Intake Officer will help you decide whether illegal discrimination may have occurred and can assist you in filing an administrative complaint if you decide to take that step. An administrative complaint must be filed within one year of the act of alleged discrimination. There is no filing fee. You do not need a lawyer, although you may hire one if you prefer. The employer named in your complaint will be mailed a copy of your complaint and told by letter that it is illegal to retaliate against you for having filed a complaint. You will receive a copy of the employer’s answer and will be asked to rebut any points made and to provide names of witnesses and evidence in support of your charge.

The administrative complaint process

The services of the Idaho Human Rights Commission are available to everyone irrespective of disability. Requests for Commission publications in alternate formats will be promptly handled.


Retaliation against an individual who has engaged in a protected activity is unlawful. "Protected activity" means opposing conduct which a person, in good faith, reasonably believes to be unlawful under the anti-discrimination statutes or participating in Commission proceedings, which are set up for the enforcement of the anti-discrimination statutes.