Thirty Years After Al-Khazraji: Revisiting Employment Discrimination Under Section 1981


Many scholars have written about the racialization process experienced by people of Southwest Asia and North African (SWANA) descent, emphasizing the increased discrimination experienced by those perceived as Middle Eastern or SWANA. There is very little scholarship, however, concentrating specifically on employment discrimination faced by those of SWANA descent in the United States. Although much § 1981 literature exists, few scholars have surveyed the § 1981 landscape that has developed after two landmark Supreme Court cases: Saint Francis College v. Al-Khazraji and Shaare Tefila v. Cobb. Using Iranian plaintiffs as a case study, this Comment argues that § 1981’s outdated notion of race creates a theoretical distinction between categories such as race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, and national origin in situations where no such distinction exists. I argue that as a result of the Court’s inability to recognize or articulate the differences between these distinctions, groups such as SWANA are inappropriately excluded from protection under § 1981.

About the Author

J.D., UCLA School of Law, Critical Race Studies Specialization; B.A. Magna Cum Laude with College Honors, UCLA.

By uclalaw