Employment Discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination based on individual differences by employers. Discriminatory practices include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, retaliation, and various types of harassment.
The main body of employment discrimination laws consists of federal and state statutes. Most states and the federal government have laws that prohibit private persons, organizations or governments from discriminating against people. In employment, individuals are protected from discrimination by employers under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities in Employment Act, and other federal and state laws.
An act of discrimination may occur in relation to one of the following actions:
- race or color;
- national origin;
- sexual orientation (in some states).
Assuming a protected classification is involved, many types of conduct can be found to be discriminatory, including decisions to hire or promote. Employers cannot discriminate when imposing work conditions or privileges, or when determining pay, bonus, or time off. Workplace discrimination can also take the form of harassment, or retaliation for reporting improprieties or exercising a legal right.
The act of employment discrimination can take many forms. Generally, it occurs when an employee or job applicant is treated unfairly because of their certain characteristics. An individual who possesses one of these characteristics is said to be part of a “protected class.” Discrimination can occur even if the employee is merely perceived to be a part of a protected class.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the Federal anti-discrimination laws. They investigate claims of discrimination in the workplace. Generally, in order to file a lawsuit in Federal court, an employee must first file a claim with the EEOC. The deadline for filing a claim with the EEOC is 180 days after the discriminatory act. Because the EEOC investigators are often overworked and have countless other cases, people often get a “right to sue” letter from the EEOC, hire a private lawyer, and pursue their employment discrimination claim in Court.
To prove employment discrimination, you must show that the employer intended to treat you differently because of the characteristic. This intent can also be demonstrated if the employer has treated a lot of other persons with the same protected characteristic unfairly.
Pursing an employment discrimination claim against an employer is complicated because procedural laws vary depending on where and when you file your claim. A lawyer will help you with the filing deadlines specific to your claim. Also, because the EEOC investigators will not get to your claim immediately, a lawyer can help you investigate and pursue any additional remedies. It is also a good idea to see a work lawsuit lawyer before signing a waiver or other severance package. If you are an employer being sued for employment discrimination, you should speak to an employment lawyer immediately.