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An Overview of Workplace Discrimination Laws

By Edited Nov 16, 2015 0 0

Workplace discrimination has been around for many years, despite the fact that there are various federal laws that prohibit it.

Here is an overview of two of the various federal laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace:

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is prohibited to discriminate against or harass any employees and applicants based on the following protected classes:

    • Race or color
    • Religion
    • Sex
    • Pregnancy
    • Childbirth
    • Nation origin (this includes membership in a Native American tribe)

Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee or applicant who upholds his/her rights under the law. For instance, an employer cannot terminate an employee for complaining about sex discrimination.

This prohibition under Title VII is applied to all privileges, terms, and conditions of employment, such as:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Job assignments
  • Discipline
  • Promotions
  • Wage
  • Shift assignments

Even though Title VII prohibits discrimination, there is an awfully narrow exception to this rule. Employers may discriminate against someone based on national origin, sex, or religion (but never race) if the attribute is something inherent to the job. This is known as bona fide occupational qualification (BFQQ) exception, in legal terms.

Title VII is applied to most employers, including:

  • Private employers that have 15 or more employees
  • Federal government
  • State governments and their agencies and political subdivisions
  • Labor organizations
  • Employment agencies
  • Joint labor-management committees as well as other training programs

The agency that enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the EEOC or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

  1. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

One of the laws that prohibit discrimination is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act or ADEA, which deals with age discrimination in the workplace.

Under ADEA, it is prohibited to discriminate against employees who are ages 40 or above. Retaliating against an employee or applicant who upholds his/her rights under this law is also prohibited. For instance, an employer cannot terminate an employee for filing a complaint about employment discrimination based on age.

Similar to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this prohibition against age discrimination under ADEA is applied to all privileges, terms, and conditions of employment.

ADEA is not applied to all employers, particularly to state governments and their agencies. Furthermore, it is not applied to private employers that have less than 20 employees. In general, this law is applied to the following:

  • The federal government and its agencies
  • Private employers that have 20 or more employees
  • Interstate agencies
  • Employment agencies
  • Labor unions

Like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the agency that enforces ADEA is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Filing Workplace Discrimination Claims

If you have experienced employment discrimination, you may be entitled to a claim. To help you with your legal concerns, it is advisable for you to consult with a competent employment law attorney who has a lot of experience in handling issues of workplace discrimination claims.

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