Employment discrimination based on certain characteristics is illegal under various state and federal laws.   Federal law prohibits discrimination in hiring, evaluations, promotions,  compensation and disciplinary action. Under Federal law, employers generally cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of: race, sex, pregnancy, national origin, religion, disability, age, military service, bankruptcy, and citizenship status.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based upon protected characteristics regarding terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. The Family and Medical Leave Act governs pregnancy leave and and pregnancy-related conditions.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of age. An employee is protected from discrimination based on age if he or she is over 40.  The Equal Pay prohibits employers from paying different wages based on sex. It provides that where workers perform equal work in jobs requiring “equal skill, effort, and responsibility and performed under similar working conditions,” they should be provided equal pay.  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 Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on a physical or mental handicap and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers. Employers must also reasonably accommodate a disabled employee in the performance of his or her job unless the employer can show that undue hardship will result. A person with a disability is a person who is “substantially limited” in one or more major life activities.

State laws often provide additional protections. Wikipedia has a good summary of state employment laws here. If you believe that you’ve been discriminated against in your employment or prospective employment, please contact us for a consultation.


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