Job discrimination, or employment discrimination, occurs when an employer treats a worker different compared to other workers in the same position based on their membership within a “protected class.” Depending on the state, protected classes may include:
- Race/nationality/country of origin
- Sex/gender, as well as sexual orientation in some areas
- Medical condition or pregnancy, especially terminating a worker who was on a valid medical or pregnancy leave
- Political affiliation
So, for instance, if an applicant or employee is treated differently or less favorably on account of their religion or religious beliefs, it may be a case of discrimination. They would have to prove that their membership in the protected class was the basis of the treatment, rather than other factors such as poor work performance.
When Can Job Discrimination Occur?
Job discrimination can occur at various phases of the employment process, which can include:
- Preliminary requirements, such as drug testing and criminal background checks
- Promotions, benefits, and bonuses
- Sales commissions
- Termination and retirement packages
- Various other stages (these can also vary by state laws)
What Are the Legal Consequences for Job Discrimination?
Job discrimination can lead to several legal consequences for the employer including: investigations by government agencies such as the EEOC; mandatory changes in the workplace practices; monetary damages awards for losses caused to the employee; and fines for violations of important laws. Keep in mind that, in most cases, the plaintiff needs to first file a claim with the EEOC before they can file a lawsuit, though there can be exceptions to this rule.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Job Discrimination Dispute?
Job discrimination can sometimes involve some very serious state and even federal violations. You may need to hire a qualified employment lawyer if you need help with a job discrimination case. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice and guidance if you need to file a claim or handle any paperwork. Also, if you need to work with the EEOC or if you need to file a lawsuit, your lawyer can provide you with various.