The allegation of employment discrimination is one of the more serious allegations an employee or potential employee can say about your company. Federal laws are in place to protect employees and applicants from discrimination, and companies found guilty of discrimination face harsh penalties.
While you might know a few discriminatory practices, the category of “discrimination” is quite broad – and as an employer, it is imperative that you know all types of discrimination to ensure your business does not discriminate.
What are the Different Types of Workplace Discrimination?
Discrimination is specifically prohibited. Under the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers cannot discriminate against employees or applicants based on any type of bias. The following would constitute discrimination under these federal laws:
- Age – Age discrimination can involve excluding someone because they are too young or too old. Treating an employee less favorably because of age is a growing problem, especially for the middle-aged population. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act specifically applies to workers 40 years and older.
- Disability – Any individual with a disability deserves equal employment opportunities and equal treatment as a person without such hardship. People with disabilities have strong protections from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Gender – An employee’s gender cannot determine their income. Men and women must both be paid equally in the workforce. The Equal Pay Act requires that all employers pay men and women the same money for the same job – regardless of gender.
- Ethnicity – Ethnicity, including a person’s accent, cannot be used to discriminate against positions, promotions, or pay.
- Pregnancy – The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), requires all employers to treat pregnant women fairly. When a woman is pregnant and cannot perform her job duties temporarily, an employer cannot dismiss her, decrease her pay, or discriminate against her.
- Religion – An employee or applicant cannot be discriminated against because of their religion or religious beliefs. The law protects those who believe in all religions, including those less practiced in the United States.
- Sexual Preference – Sexual preference, whether a person is straight, bi-sexual, or gay, cannot be used against an employee or applicant in any way.
- Race – An employee or applicant cannot be treated unfairly because of their race, skin color, or having characteristics associated with a specific race. Also, the complexion of their skin cannot be used against them.
Discrimination Accusations are Very Serious
Employment discrimination laws are in place to protect employees. Any discrimination in hiring, promotions, job assignments, training, payments, or general treatment at the workplace are a violation of the law. An employer can face both state and federal penalties for being found guilty of discriminatory practices. Whether you are an employer accused of discriminating, or you are an employee that feels you have been discriminated against – realize that these are very serious accusations. Therefore, when the issue of discrimination arises, speak with an employment attorney. An attorney can assess the details of your case and help decide if you have a valid discrimination claim against the employer or a defense against the employee accusing you of discrimination.