Discrimination is one of the most prevalent problems in employment. Employees have experienced at least at some point in their careers, discriminatory treatment or conduct on the basis of the national origin, religion, race, disability, gender, or even age. In view of discriminatory employment practices that are detrimental to the welfare and well-being of workers, federal anti-discriminatory laws have been enacted over the years by government authorities.

Here is an overview of federal anti-discriminatory laws currently being implemented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Under Title VII of this law, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. This likewise prohibits discrimination against an employee because of his association or interracial marriage to another individual of a particular race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This law also makes it unlawful to retaliate against an employee who filed a complaint or charge for discrimination or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Reasonable accommodation must also be given by the employers to accommodate the applicant's or employees' sincerely held religious practices unless such would result to undue hardship on the part of the employer's business. Sexual harassment, which is a form of gender discrimination, is also punishable under this law.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) – Title I of this statute provides that it is unlawful for employers in the private sector, and in state and local governments to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability. Under the ADA, disability is defined as, "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." Employers are required to reasonable accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an applicant or employee who is a qualified individual with a disability unless it would impose undue hardship on the operation of the business.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – The EPA makes it illegal for employers to pay different compensation to male and female employees if they perform equal work in the same workplace. This law also amends part of the Fair Labor Standards Act and aims to abolish wage disparity based on gender.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) - Under the ADEA, it is illegal to discriminate or treat an employee or applicant less favorably in any employment practices because of his age. Employees who are aged 40 years and older are protected from employment discrimination.
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) – This law recently took effect last November 21, 2009 and provides protection against discrimination for employees or applications based on their genetic information. Genetic information is any information about the individual's genetics tests or medical history of his family about any disease, disorder or condition.

While these federal anti-discrimination laws may seem all-encompassing, its gaps may be supplemented by statutory anti-discrimination laws enacted by your state. Consult with an employment law attorney to find out your rights in the event that you feel you are being discriminated against at work.