When an employer treats a worker differently from other workers in the same position due to their membership in a “protected class,” this is known as job discrimination or employment discrimination.
Protected classifications vary by state and may include:
- Race, citizenship, and country of origin
- Sex, gender, and in some cases, sexual orientation
Therefore, it may be discrimination if, for example, a candidate or employee is treated differently or less favorably because of their religion or religious beliefs. They would have to demonstrate that their treatment was motivated by their membership in the protected class rather than other variables like subpar job performance.
What Is Employment Discrimination Based on Multiple Factors?
Employment discrimination is another name for workplace discrimination. When an employee—or prospective employee—is treated differently from other employees, the phrase is used to characterize it. This typically unfavorable treatment is given to them because they have certain traits rather than because of how well they perform their work. The worker also receives distinct treatment from other workers carrying out similar work tasks.
Employers are not allowed to use discrimination in the workplace due to federal and state prohibitions. This is so that all employees and applicants receive fair and equal treatment, which is the responsibility of every business. The following groups are particularly exempt from discrimination:
- Color or race;
- Country of origin;
- Gender identity or sex;
- Beliefs in religion, or a lack thereof;
- Political stance;
- Health issues or impairments;
- Maternity; and/or
- Depending on the city or state, sexual orientation.
Just to be clear, discrimination happens when a current or potential employee is treated less favorably than other current or potential employees due to their membership in one or more protected classes. Discrimination can happen at any time, from when someone is looking for work to when they are recruited as an employee.
An illustration of this would be how it would be unlawful to deny employment to an applicant who was otherwise qualified on the basis of their religious convictions. An employer failing to make a disabled employee a reasonable workplace accommodation might lead to a discrimination claim.
Cases of employment discrimination frequently just involve one particular personality trait. A person might generally be discriminated against based on their age or their country of origin, for example. However, when an employer treats a person unfairly because of numerous protected classes, it is referred to as multiple factor employment discrimination.
This would imply that the person is subject to discrimination at work due to both their age and their nation of origin. Such prejudice may occur in a variety of settings and may involve a wide range of persons, both individually and collectively.
What Are Some Typical Cases Of Discrimination At Work?
Simply put, companies are not allowed to discriminate while enforcing workplace policies or privileges. Additionally, they are prohibited from discriminating when awarding pay, incentives, or vacation time.
Other prevalent instances of prejudice in the workplace include:
- A worker being hired, fired, or forced into retirement solely on the basis of their protected class;
- Denying employment to a candidate because of their protected class;
- Putting words in job postings and recruitment materials that will scare off members of protected classes, like requiring applicants to be able to lift a specific amount of weight when it is unrelated to the work;
- Giving rewards to one group while refusing to do the same for another, despite the fact that both groups perform the same kind of work;
- Withholding pay or a salary;
- Reducing the health and medical benefits received by members of a protected class;
- Requiring someone to operate in unfavorable or severe conditions;
- Requesting that the worker give up their right to sue in exchange for severance money after their job ends; and
- Disputes over the number of hours worked, such as when overtime or vacation compensation is withheld despite being due.
Additionally, it is against the law for employers to engage in harassment or other behaviors that foster a hostile work environment. It is significant to highlight that this covers both employer and employee behavior. Employers may not take adverse action against staff members for:
- Reporting discrimination or harassment;
- Suing someone;
- Affiliating with a union;
- Taking part in a workplace discrimination investigation.
Employers are not permitted to express a preference or exclude certain candidates from job adverts based on protected classes. Additionally, they are prohibited from granting promotions to only those who meet specified criteria, as opposed to any employee who merits them based on their performance.
As an illustration, consider how it is unlawful to pay one group of employees more than another group of employees just because of their race. This is particularly valid if both groups are engaged in the same activities or kinds of employment.
Laws against employment discrimination are also being expanded to cover new groups and classifications. Particularly, anti-discrimination laws and regulations are increasingly taking sexual orientation and gender identity into account. Each state may have unique rules that set it apart from other states. This can be seen, for instance, in the differences between Texas and California employment discrimination legislation.
How Do I Establish Discrimination at Work?
You will probably need to be a protected class member to prove workplace discrimination effectively. In general, you must show a court that you were knowingly treated unfairly by either your employer or a potential employer merely because of your membership in a protected class.
If the employer has consistently treated members of the same protected class unfairly, that may strengthen the case for such intent. You must demonstrate that the employer chose to treat you differently from other employees on purpose and that this choice was exclusively motivated by your membership in a protected class.
On the other hand, your employer will probably try to show that their actions were driven by something completely else, unrelated to your protected status. Pretext is the attempt to show that an acceptable reason drove one’s acts. Pretexts include claims that an employee lacked the necessary skills for the position or that the company’s needs had changed and the individual was no longer a good match.
Another illustration would be that there were more qualified and superior candidates. A successful job discrimination lawsuit obviously requires evidence of the employer’s true intentions.
When Is Workplace Discrimination Possible?
Job discrimination can happen at many stages of the hiring process, including:
- Preliminary conditions, including drug tests and criminal history checks
- Bonuses, rewards, and promotions
- Sales incentives
- Retirement and termination benefits
- Several additional stages (these can also vary by state laws)
What Are the Legal Repercussions of Discrimination in the Workplace?
A number of legal repercussions for the employer can result from job discrimination, including:
- Investigations by government organizations like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
- Mandated modifications in workplace procedures;
- Monetary damages awarded for losses caused to the employee; and
- Fines for breaking significant laws.
Though there may be exceptions, generally speaking, the plaintiff must first submit a claim to the EEOC before they may initiate a lawsuit.
Should I Get Legal Assistance with a Dispute Over Job Discrimination?
Occasionally, very significant state and even federal laws can be broken due to employment discrimination. If you need assistance with a work discrimination lawsuit, you might need to engage an experienced discrimination lawyer.
If you have to handle any paperwork or file a claim, your lawyer can give you legal counsel and direction. Your lawyer can also give you alternative options if you need to engage with the EEOC or if you need to launch a lawsuit.