By Leticia M. Saucedo

The concepts of intersectionality and multidimensionality have become increasingly salient as we think about strategies for targeting national origin discrimination in the future. But what exactly do the concepts of intersectionality and multidimensionality mean in the immigrant workplace context, and how are such claims proved in the traditional evidentiary framework for discrimination? What changes would operationalize these concepts in the immigrant workplace, which is now the fastest growing sector of the labor market? These questions are not simply academic. Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a series of hearings seeking input from civil rights organizations and employers on its own guidance on national origin discrimination Civil rights representatives testified that Title VII in the current enforcement climate was limited in its effectiveness at targeting discrimination in general and at targeting national origin discrimination specifically. Most of the advocates testifying, along with EEOC representatives, spoke of intersectionality as a key concept for understanding the types of discrimination they observed in today’s workplace and as an important direction for the doctrine. Lucila Rosas, director of the EEOC’s immigrant worker task force, defined intersectionality as “when a charging party alleges discrimination on more than one covered basis.” Other than this definition, however, there was no theory for discussing how intersectionality or multidimensionality operate in immigrant workplaces.

This article demonstrates how intersectionality and its cousin, multidimensionality, might be operationalized in the immigrant workplace. It suggests theories of a case that target the ways that discrimination might be manifested differently for Latino immigrant workers than that suggested by traditional sex and national origin cases. First, this article will provide a short description of the critical race approach to discrimination and demonstrate its usefulness for unveiling modes of discrimination that might not otherwise be revealed in the litigation context. I also describe how the evolving literature around multidimensionality and masculinities advances the theory of intersectionality in discrimination. In part two, I describe a scenario in which the intersectionality/multidimensionality approach demonstrates how multiple axis discrimination works. The scenario is based on a case that the EEOC is currently litigating in an immigrant workplace.6 In part three, I explore how single axis discrimination frameworks cases might be reconfigured to fit the existing reality of multidimensional identity and the discrimination that arises from it. I suggest in this section reconceptualization of both sex and national origin discrimination theories in the immigrant worker context. I conclude the article by noting that as long as the law and its development-including the fact that development of individual cases-do not explicitly recognize multidimensional identities in the law, the EEOC cannot effectively enforce anti-discrimination laws in immigrant workplaces.

Download the full article (PDF) here.

Recommended Citation
Leticia M. Saucedo, Intersectionality, Multidimensionality, Latino Immigrant Workers, and Title VII, 67 SMU L. Rev. 257 (2014)