In the workplace, everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable, which is why our government has important anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws. As an employer, it is vital you be aware of the common types of discrimination and implement policies to minimize their occurrences. Legally recognized characteristics protected against discrimination include the following:
Protected under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, age is a characteristic often targeted in instances of discrimination. This kind of discrimination occurs when employers make decisions based on age stereotypes or preference over merit. For example, if a sales company actively hires the youngest applicants, this is an example of age discrimination.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, employers may not turn away qualified professionals due to a serious disability. In fact, many employers may be required to provide reasonable accommodations for a disabled hire. The document covers businesses with more than 15 employees.
In addition to protecting other characteristics, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination based on color or race. Discrimination is prohibited at every point of the employment process, from the initial application to future career promotions. Segregation and harassment based on race are also illegal under this act.
4. National Origin
National origin is protected under the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964, along with several other characteristics. You are not allowed to deny job access due to an employee’s accent or harass employees based on their national background. Additionally, English-only rules must be proven to safeguard the functionality of the business (for example, an English radio station disc jockey).
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act adds to the Title VII Act and prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy. Under the law, pregnant individuals must be treated in the same manner as other employees with similar responsibilities. The law also covers the stipulations of pregnancy leave and on-going health benefits.
As with race and national origin, religious freedoms are protected under the Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employees cannot be fired or hired for maintaining their personal beliefs. Reasonable accommodations must be made for religious garb, and you may be required to grant time off for important religious holidays.
Sex discrimination occurs when individuals are treated differently based on their sexual or gender identity. Currently, laws are in place to protect workers against discrimination based on their sex, but some gender identities are not protected under these laws. For example, many transgender individuals find they are not adequately protected under existing legislation.
8. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a specific form of sex or gender discrimination. In many cases, it places women-identified individuals in positions of less power. However, men and others also fall victim to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual behavior and advances.
9. Sexual Orientation
At the federal level, there exist few protections for queer-identified individuals. Fortunately, many state have seen fit to implement their own anti-discrimination laws to protect queer people. Currently anti-discrimination legislation protecting the queer community is making its way through Congress, which may expand federal anti-discrimination protection to the queer-identified individuals.
10. Equal Pay
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces various equal pay legislation and acts. Under these laws, you are required to provide equal compensation for comparable positions, experience and qualifications regardless of the employee’s race, religion, age, sex, national origin, color or disability. Failure to do so may leave you open to a discrimination lawsuit.
As you continue growing your business, make sure you protect yourself and your employees from discrimination and harassment. Of course, you want to avoid lawsuits, but more importantly, you should provide a safe and welcoming environment for your employees.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.