Employment Discrimination Laws
What is employment discrimination?
- National Origin
- Physical disability (Mental, physical - including HIV status)
- Military service
- Bad debts
- Citizenship status (citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees, and asylees)
Employment discrimination law is codified in numerous state and federal laws:
Race, Sex, Religion, National Origin
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to most employers engaged in interstate commerce with more than 15 employees, labor organizations, and employment agencies. The Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color,religion, sex or national origin. (Read more about the Gender Pay Gap)
Sex includes pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. It makes it illegal for employers to discriminate in hiring, discharging, compensation, or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
Employment agencies may not discriminate when hiring or referring applicants. Labor organizations are also prohibited from basing membership or union classifications on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted to eliminate discrimination against those with handicaps. It prohibits discrimination based on a physical or mental handicap by employers engaged in interstate commerce and state governments. The type of discrimination prohibited is broader than that explicitly outlined by Title VII.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of disability by the federal government, federal contractors with contracts of more than $10,000, and programs receiving federal financial assistance. It requires affirmative action as well as non-discrimination. Section 504 requires reasonable accommodation, and Section 508 requires that electronic and information technology be accessible to disabled employees.
The Black Lung Act prohibits discrimination by mine operators against miners who suffer from "black lung" (pneumoconiosis).
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on real or perceived physical or mental disabilities. It also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need them because of a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment, unless the employer can show that undue hardship will result. There are strict limitations on when an employer can ask disability-related questions or require medical examinations, and all medical information must be treated as confidential.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age. The prohibited practices are nearly identical to those outlined in Title 7. An employee is protected from discrimination based on age if he or she is over 40. The ADEA contains explicit guidelines for benefit, pension and retirement plans.
The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of bankruptcy or bad debts.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employers with more than three employees from discriminating against anyone (except an unauthorized immigrant) on the basis of national origin or citizenship status.
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 bars employers from using individuals' genetic information when making hiring, firing, job placement, or promotion decisions.
Where can I go to if I think I'm being discriminated against?