Category Archives: Employment Discrimination

Gender Discrimination

Title VII prohibits discrimination “because of” an employee’s sex.  In other words, your sex cannot play a role in any aspect of your employment, including hiring, transfers, promotions, pay, disciplinary action, suspensions, and discharges.  In addition to Title VII, a related law, the Equal Pay Act (“EPA”) requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) prohibits discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.  Although this does not mean that pregnant women are entitled to special treatment, it does mean that pregnant women must be treated equally to non-pregnant individuals.  For example, if your company gives extra leaves of absence to employees with medical conditions, they must extend this practice to pregnant women.  The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) also gives you certain rights if you need a leave of absence for your pregnancy or for the birth of your child.

read more

Religious Discrimination

Title VII prohibits religious discrimination.  This means your employer may not discriminate against you “because of” your religious beliefs.  This also prohibits harassment based on your religious beliefs as well as retaliation against you for complaining about religious discrimination or for participating in someone else’s religious discrimination case.

The religious discrimination laws have three separate protections:

  • Your employer must make reasonable efforts to accommodate your religious beliefs and practices in the workplace;
  • Your employer may not impose its religious views on you or permit your co-employees to impose their religious views on you; and
  • Your employer may not take adverse action against you (including harassment) because of your religious beliefs.

The duty to accommodate

If you follow a recognized religious faith and your faith requires you to engage in certain practices or wear certain types of clothing while in the workplace, your employer must make reasonable efforts to accommodate you.  This means the employer must allow you to wear a religious head covering or engage in prayers as long as the practice does not place an undue burden on your employer.  Typically, this means your employer must accommodate you unless it would be prohibitively expensive for it to do so or your religious practice would interfere with the operations of your employer’s business or present a safety hazard.

read more

Disabilities Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) makes disability discrimination illegal.  The ADA prohibits discrimination against “qualified individuals with a disability” in the terms and conditions of employment.  The ADA also prohibits disability harassment and retaliation against you for complaining about disability discrimination or for participating in someone else’s disability discrimination case.

Not all injuries, illnesses or even medically defined disabilities are covered by the ADA.  The ADA projects a specific class of individuals such as a qualified individual.  A qualified individual with a disability is an individual with any medical, physiological, or psychiatric condition that substantially limits a major life activity.  Temporary conditions or conditions that, although serious, do not substantially limit any of your major life activities are not covered.  For example, permanent blindness or permanent paralysis are medical conditions that substantially limit major life activities.  Thus, blindness or paralysis are covered disabilities.  However, if you have a temporarily disabling condition, such as a bad back or broken leg, you are probably not considered disabled under the ADA.  Remember, the definition of a disability under the ADA is a legal one not a medical one.

read more

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) makes age discrimination illegal.  The ADEA prohibits discrimination against individuals over the age of 40.  Like the other discrimination laws, if you are over 40, your employer may not discriminate against you on the basis of your age, and you are also protected from harassment on the basis of your age.

Like the other anti-discrimination laws, the ADEA prohibits any type of adverse action against you because of your age including the failure to hire you or a discharge because of your age. This also includes age harassment, which typically involves hostility or abuse directed at you by other employees because of your age.  The ADEA also prohibits retaliation against you for complaining about age discrimination or for participating in someone else’s age discrimination case.

read more

National Origin Discrimination

National origin discrimination means treating someone less favorably because he or she is from a particular place, because of his or her ethnicity or accent, or because it is believed that he or she has a particular ethnic background.  National origin discrimination also means treating someone less favorably at work because of marriage or other association with someone of a particular nationality.

National origin discrimination can manifest itself in a number of ways such as English fluency and English-only rules as well as ethnic slurs.  Whatever the basis of the discrimination, your employer may not take adverse action against you because of your national origin.  This also includes harassment such as name calling or abuse because of your national origin.  Also, like the other anti-discrimination laws, the national origin discrimination rules also prohibit retaliation against you for complaining about national origin discrimination or for participating in someone else’s national origin discrimination case.

read more

Race and Color Discrimination

Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees “because of” their race or color.  Employers may not take your race or color or your perceived race or color into consideration in making employment decisions.

Race and color discrimination is not always obvious.  Sophisticated employers often engage in race discrimination through subtle practices that tend to screen out minority applicants and employees, such as job and intelligence tests, appearance and dress codes, English-only rules, relying on arrest records in making employment decisions, and discriminatory recruiting practices.

read more

Employment Discrimination

There are a number of federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against employees, former employees and applicants for employment on the basis of their race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. Since the passage of Title VII, Congress passed additional laws to expand the scope of the anti-discrimination laws in order to prohibit other forms of discrimination.  The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) prohibits disability discrimination, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) protects individuals over the age of 40 from discrimination.

read more