In the United States, numerous laws have been enacted to prohibit workplace discrimination and to better ensure equal opportunity for all employees. These laws are crucial in promoting fairness, diversity, and inclusivity in the workplace.
Of course, not all kinds of discrimination are unlawful. If a manager honestly decides that he’d rather promote a Packers fan over a Vikings fan, that’s weird but not unlawful. As an experienced employment lawyer – including those who practice at Hoyer Law Group, PLLC – can explain in greater detail, discrimination in employment is unlawful when it is based on certain protected characteristics. The most common kinds of discrimination that occur in violation of federal law are noted below.
Race and Color Discrimination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race and color. It ensures that employees are not treated unfavorably or denied opportunities due to their race or skin color.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII also prohibit gender-based discrimination. Employers cannot discriminate against individuals based on their gender, including with regard to hiring, promotion, wages, and working conditions. Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are now prohibited under federal law as well, under Title VII.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amends Title VII to protect women from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, just as they would for other employees with temporary disabilities.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals who are 40 years of age or older. This law ensures that older employees are not denied employment opportunities, benefits, or subjected to unfair treatment due to their age.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform their job duties, unless it imposes an undue hardship on the employer.
National Origin Discrimination
Title VII protects employees from discrimination based on their national origin or ancestry. It prohibits employers from treating individuals unfavorably due to their birthplace, accent, ethnicity, or cultural background.
Title VII also protects employees from religious discrimination. Employers must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs, practices, or observances, unless it causes undue hardship to the employer.
Genetic Information Discrimination
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their genetic information. This includes information about an individual’s genetic tests, family medical history, or participation in genetic research.
It is important to note that retaliation against an employee for filing a discrimination complaint or participating in an investigation is also unlawful. Employees have the right to engage in protected activity without fear of adverse consequences.
These are some of the key types of discrimination that are prohibited in U.S. workplaces. Additional kinds of discrimination are protected at the state level. In either event, it is important for employers to foster an inclusive and respectful work environment that values diversity and ensures equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their protected characteristics and for workers to understand that they can seek legal guidance at any time if they believe that their rights have been violated.