There are several laws that prohibit discrimination in the employment context. In addition, most states also have anti-discrimination laws that may go beyond the federal laws and provide more coverage. The major federal anti-discrimination laws make it unlawful to discriminate against a variety of groups. The following are brief overviews of some of the major laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VII is the major federal anti-discrimination law. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of the following:
- Sex (which includes pregnancy and childbirth)
- National Origin (which is different from Race/color)
Title VII also prohibits retaliation against an employee for asserting his/her rights under the law. Title VII's prohibition on discrimination applies to all the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. In other words, Title VII applies to hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, discipline, and assignment decisions.
The Equal Pay Act (EPA)
The EPA mandates that employers must give men and women the same pay if they perform the same work. While the work does not have to be identical, it must be substantially similar. That is, if men and women perform jobs that require the same skills, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions, they are performing the same work.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
The ADEA prohibits discrimination against those who are 40 years old or older. Like Title VII, it also prohibits retaliation against a person for asserting his/her rights under the ADEA and applies to all terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate against individuals with a disability. The ADA protects individuals with disability similar to how Title VII protects other groups, but also has additional protections and requirements, such as requiring reasonable accommodations. In order to be protected, an individual must be disabled within the meaning of the ADA. More information about the ADA and the meaning of disabled is provided here.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)
Under the IRCA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual because of his/her citizenship or national origin. The IRCA applies to all terms, conditions, and privileges, just as Title VII does. The IRCA also makes it illegal to knowingly hire or retain anyone who is not authorized to work in the United States.
Do I Need a lawyer?
I am an employer trying to comply with anti-discrimination laws: Employment discrimination laws are varied and complex. The above are only some of the major federal laws. In addition, your state likely has other anti-discrimination laws. An experienced employment discrimination lawyer can advise you on whether your business practices are in compliance with the laws. Also, if a discrimination case is brought against you a lawyer can help defend you and inform you of you defenses.
I am an employee who has been discriminated against: Bringing a discrimination case can be very complicated. There are many regulations that must be followed and in addition to federal laws there are likely state laws that apply as well. A lawyer who is familiar with employment discrimination laws can help you with the procedures and help you investigate your case.