How Are Employees Protected from Employer Discrimination?

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Various laws protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. Employers are prohibited from using policies and practices disproportionately affecting applicants and employees in protected classes.

Common Types of Employer Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a person because of their national origin, race, disability, sex, color, religion, age, or genetic information.

Discrimination is a term used to describe various actions one party exhibits against another to treat them less favorably or differently than others. The most common types of workplace discrimination include:

  • Disability – The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all employment-related matters, including benefits, promotions, pay, hiring, and firing. The law applies to covered employers with 15 or more employees in educational institutions, private businesses, employment agencies, local and state government entities, and labor organizations.
  • Genetic information – It is illegal for employers to discriminate against applicants or employees because of their genetic information. Genetic information includes details from a person’s or their family’s genetic tests and information about a family member’s manifestation of a disorder or disease.
  • Religion – Religious discrimination refers to an employer treating an employee or job applicant unfavorably due to their religious beliefs. Federal law protects workers who belong to organized and traditional religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
  • Age – The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers 40 years old and older from discrimination in the workplace. The law prohibits discrimination regarding any area of someone’s employment, including benefits, firing, job assignments, training, pay, and promotions.
  • Harassment – Harassment involves unwelcome conduct an employee endures because of their sex, race, older age, religion, genetic information, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or color. Harassment is illegal when enduring the offensive conduct is a condition of the worker’s continued employment or the behavior is pervasive or severe enough to create an environment a reasonable person would consider abusive, intimidating, or hostile.
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity – Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their sexual orientation or transgender status. Harassment creating a hostile work environment based on gender identity or sexual orientation is also prohibited.
  • National origin – Treating an applicant or employee unfavorably because of accent or ethnicity, appearing to be from a specific ethnic background, or being from a particular part of the world or country is illegal. National origin discrimination also involves discriminating against workers because they’re married to or associated with someone of a particular national origin.
  • Sex – Federal law prohibits treating an applicant or employee unfavorably and making decisions about employment, such as hiring, firing, fringe benefits, or promotions based on sex, including the person’s gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy.
  • Pregnancy – It is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of a current pregnancy, potential pregnancy, past pregnancy, birth control, choosing not to or having an abortion, or a medical condition related to childbirth or pregnancy. Discrimination based on disabilities related to pregnancy, such as diabetes developing during pregnancy, is also prohibited.
  • Equal pay/compensation – Men and women in the same workplace must receive equal pay for equal work under the Equal Pay Act. The law protects all forms of pay, including stock options, salary, profit sharing and bonus plans, overtime, life insurance, cleaning or gasoline allowances, bonuses, holiday and vacation pay, reimbursement for travel expenses, hotel accommodations, and benefits.
  • Race/color – An employee isn’t allowed to treat an employee or applicant unfavorably in the workplace because of race, personal characteristics associated with race, or being married to or associated with someone of a particular color or race.
  • Sexual harassment – The law protects applicants and employees from harassment. Harassment can involve unwelcome sexual advances, physical or verbal harassment of a sexual nature, or requests for sexual favors. However, harassment isn’t always of a sexual nature. It is illegal if it occurs frequently, becomes severe enough to create an offensive or hostile work environment, or leads to adverse employment decisions, such as demotions or firings.

Compensation for Employer Discrimination

If your employer discriminated against you in the workplace, filing a lawsuit under federal law might recover compensation for your:

  • Court costs
  • Back pay
  • Expenses related to medical treatment or seeking other employment
  • Attorneys’ fees
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Expert witness fees
  • Other job-related losses

Contact an Experienced Employment Lawyer Today

The Vaughn Law Firm fights for the rights of employees in Decatur, GA, and Washington, DC. We represent all workers treated unfairly in the workplace.

If you experienced workplace discrimination and want to learn more about pursuing legal action against your employer, call us at 877-615-9495 for your free consultation now. Let us help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve.