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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.

National Origin Classification

January 27, 2006

By E-mail


In a follow up to our letter dated January 19, 2006, you ask whether or not you should say that you are Hispanic on job forms. In saying that the Commission does not have a position on the question, we intended to convey the idea that, for purposes of processing charges of discrimination, the only issue is whether your affiliation with some national origin group was a basis for treating you adversely in the workplace, regardless of what that group may be.

In terms of filling out forms, you may be interested to know that 1997 Standards for the Collection of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity define Hispanic or Latino as a "person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race" and White as "a person having origins in any of the original people of Europe, Middle East, or North Africa." Recognizing the country's increasing diversity, the 1997 standards encourage individuals to select the category with which they most closely identify.

We hope this information is helpful.


Yamil Jaskille
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Office of Legal Counsel
Attorney Advisor

This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.