Employee Issue:

Workplace Discrimination FAQs

Are only women and minorities protected from workplace discrimination?

No. Federal anti-discrimination laws protect all job applicants and employees. For instance, if a female employee receives more money than a male employee performing the same job, the employer may be discriminating against the male worker because of his sex. Likewise, if an African-American worker skips three days of work and is suspended, while a Caucasian worker who misses three days is fired, the Caucasian worker may have been discriminated against on the basis of race.

Is an employer required to pay employees the same wage when they are carrying out the same job duties?

No. Federal law only prohibits employers from paying unequal wages for the same job when their decision is based on color, sex, age, religion, race, national origin and disability. Employers can offer different wages when their decision is based on location, seniority, merit or a similar factor.

What employment aspects are regulated by anti-discrimination laws?

Anti-discrimination laws apply to all aspects of employment, including hiring, termination, job assignments, compensation, benefits and promotions.

What protections are provided by anti-discrimination laws?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of national origin, sex, color, religion or race. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against workers ages 40 or older on the basis of age. The Americans with Disabilities Act bans employment discrimination based on disability. Most states also have anti-discrimination laws that offer further protection for employees. Some states prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, weight and marital status.

What can I do if I have experienced workplace discrimination?

First, you should inform your employer. He or she may be unaware that members of the company are acting in a discriminatory manner. The employer may also want to handle your case and remedy the situation. However, if you wish to pursue a workplace discrimination lawsuit, contact an employment law attorney immediately. Most discrimination claims must be filed within a certain period of time. In addition, individuals who pursue workplace discrimination lawsuits must first file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you encountered workplace discrimination while applying for a job, it is important to continue actively seeking employment even if you believe you deserved the other job. If you do not pursue other work, it may appear that you are not interested in retaining employment. This can hurt your case and limit any monetary damages you receive if the employment discrimination lawsuit is successful. To speak to a workplace discrimination attorney about your case, fill out our free case review form.

If a company offers health care for its workers, must it also provide coverage to disabled employees?

Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that employers cannot deny disabled workers equal access to healthcare.

How can I determine if an employment action or decision violates anti-discrimination laws?

First, it is important to note that the law does not prohibit all discriminatory acts. It only prohibits discrimination that is based on a protected class, such as color, national origin, age, sex, race, disability or religion. Therefore, if an employer decides to pay an employee less than other workers because of their race, they would be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, paying an employee less than other workers because they perform different job duties does not violate federal discrimination laws. When determining the legality of a discriminatory action, the worker must consider whether the difference in treatment is based on their protected status.

Federal anti-discrimination laws also ban employers from discriminating against individuals in a protected class, even if their reasoning for the different treatment is not based on race, color, religion or another protected class. For instance, an employer may choose to only hire workers who do have custody of children between the ages of 3 and 5. Upon a first glance, the employer’s decision is not based on a protected class. However, the policy, as a result, tends to favor male applicants over females, as more women are custodial parents. This policy would only be considered legal if the employer can prove that their decision was required by a business necessity and is job related.