Meeting at the White Board

Trusted Advice. Assertive Advocacy.

Protected classes in federal workplace discrimination laws

| Jan 17, 2020 | Employment Law |

Do you suspect that you have received unfair treatment at work because of your age, race, gender or disability? Certain attributes fall into the category of protected classes under federal workplace discrimination law.

Explore the types of actions that constitute discrimination and consider whether you may have a case.

Age discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers older than 40 from discrimination. Employers may not consider age when it comes to benefits, training opportunities, layoffs, promotions, firing, hiring, job assignments, pay or other aspects of employment. Workers should not fall victim to harassment because of their ages.

Disability discrimination

Disabled individuals have protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits unfavorable treatment because of an employee’s disability or history of disability. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations that allow a disabled employee to successfully complete his or her work tasks. Harassment because of a disability is also illegal. Hiring managers cannot ask a candidate about his or her disability during an interview, but only in conjunction with a job offer.

Gender discrimination

Under the Equal Pay Act, men and women who do the same job and perform the same tasks should receive the same salary. Unfair treatment because of an employee’s gender is also illegal. Both men and women can experience sexual harassment, which includes a hostile work environment, unwanted sexual advances and other forms of physical or verbal harassment.

Ethnic and racial discrimination

Employers may not display unfavorable treatment because of an employee’s actual or perceived national origin, skin color or race. Harassment such as making derogatory comments about a person’s ethnicity or race is also illegal. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prohibits employers from considering immigration status in hiring and firing decisions.

The appropriate actions to take in the face of harassment and discrimination depend on your protected class. In most cases, you have to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing a lawsuit against an employer.