Yes, although it would depend on the applicable laws. There are a number of laws regulating small business discrimination, but many of them depend on the number of individuals a business employs.

These laws are often manipulated. Some businesses will label their workers independent contractors rather than employees. In other cases, a plaintiff might seek to classify high-level management as employees. These legal battles are important because the number of employees will trigger which laws apply and which laws do not.

What Is the EEOC?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the organization charged with enforcing federal employment discrimination laws. Employees need the permission of the EEOC before they can file a discrimination suit in federal court. The EEOC can also sue employers on behalf of the federal government.

In essence, the EEOC enforces the federal government’s employment discrimination laws.

What are Small Businesses in Relation to the EEOC?

There are various federal laws that the EEOC supervises and regulates in relation to small business owners. These include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963

What is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

This act prohibits employers that have 15 or more employees from discriminating based on race, color, national origin and religion. Therefore, small business owners cannot be liable for discrimination if under the 15 employees limit. However, a cause of action may still be available if discrimination is apparent.

What is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967?

This law applies to employers with 20 or more employees. The act specifically requires that no age discrimination occur to employees over age 40.

What is Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990?

The act prohibits discrimination against an employee with 15 or more people based on a type of disability.

What is the Equal Pay Act of 1963?

The Equal Pay Act specifically requires that men and women be paid equal salaries if their jobs are similar in nature. The jobs must be substantially equal but not identical to fulfill this requirement.

What Should I Do If a Charge Has Been Filed?

An employer has been charged with discrimination will usually receive a notice from the EEOC within 10 days. The employer should immediately respond to the complaint.

Should I Consult an Attorney?

An experienced attorney in employment discrimination can be extremely valuable in assisting any small business owner in discrimination issues. The response to a complaint and the gathering of relevant evidence requires an employment attorney with experience. In addition, an attorney can help to guide small business owners in any settlement arrangements.

Likewise, an employment attorney can help an employee recover damages for any discrimination suffered while the employee was working at the small business. Drafting a complaint and assembling relevant evidence requires an experienced attorney. Proving that discrimination exists using the evidence can also be challenging since discrimination laws often change.