The unjust or unequal treatment of an employee based on protected characteristics like race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability.

Understanding employment discrimination is crucial as it involves unfavorably treatment of an employee or applicant because of their membership in a protected class. Federal laws, which are designed to protect individuals, prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), age (40 or older), national origin, disability, or genetic information. Many states and municipalities provide additional protections, empowering you with the knowledge of your rights.

Discrimination can happen in different aspects of the employment process, including hiring, firing, compensation, job assignments, training, promotions, benefits, and other terms and conditions. It can be harassment, offensive comments/conduct, denial of reasonable accommodations such as providing a sign language interpreter for a deaf employee or adjusting work hours for an employee with a medical condition, retaliation for reporting discrimination, or enforcing policies that disproportionately exclude protected groups without justification.

As employers, it is your responsibility to provide equal employment opportunities. You cannot base decisions on stereotypes or assumptions about an employee’s protected characteristics. Both intentional discrimination and policies/practices with an unjustified exclusionary impact can potentially violate anti-discrimination laws, emphasizing the need for fair and unbiased practices.

To comply, employers should implement anti-discrimination policies, provide training, and properly investigate complaints, which involves taking the complaint seriously, conducting a thorough and impartial investigation, taking appropriate action based on the findings, and taking prompt corrective action. Remedies for victims may include hiring, reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages, back pay, and attorneys’ fees.

These laws prohibit discrimination, prevent workplace bias, and ensure employment decisions are based on merit and qualifications rather than prejudice against protected groups.

Choose Practice Area