Employment discrimination by the numbers: Foreign Edition

April 4, 2012
By Eric B. Meyer on April 4, 2012 7:00 AM | | Comments

hollowglobe.jpgNow in autotune.

(Betcha didn't expect that).

Yesterday, we were rapping (without the benefit of autotune) about immigration status and unlawful discrimination and concluded that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of immigration status (although national-original discrimination is unlawful). And we know from a super-hot "Fact or Fiction" post last year that Title VII covers Americans who are employed abroad. It was so hot.

Now, get ready for the hat trick, Gretzky.

Late last month, a federal court in Michigan recognized that foreign employees of a foreign employer should not be counted as employees for purposes of Title VII. Who cares, right? Well, you should. As you know from this post, you need 15 employees to be covered under Title VII. If ABC Company has 14 employees working at a US facility and 1 more employee, a Canadian resident, who works exclusively for ABC in Canada, ABC is not covered under Title VII.

This could also become an issue, as it did in the Michigan case, where an employer is right up against a statutory damages cap. Caps are placed on compensatory damages according to the size of the employer. The limits on damages are as follows:

15 to 100 employees: $50,000
101 to 200 employees: $100,000
201 to 500 employees: $200,000
501 employees or more: $300,000

Notwithstanding the foregoing -- or something legalese like that -- state laws covering workplace discrimination and damages caps may vary. So, mind your p's and q's. Or maybe you just shouldn't discriminate at all.