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Employment Discrimination - An Overview
Over the years, federal and state legislators have worked hard to pass laws against employment discrimination. As a result of these efforts, the United States has some of the most stringent anti-discrimination laws in the world. These federal laws prohibit most employers, employment agencies and unions from discriminating against job applicants or employees on the basis of:
- National origin
Employers must abide by federal anti-discrimination laws at each stage of their hiring and employment processes — from the advertisement and interview to the job offer and promotion. If you have experienced workplace discrimination, these federal laws are designed to help you. Contact Allred, Maroko & Goldberg in Los Angeles, CA, to discuss your case with an experienced employment law attorney.
The most commonly applied federal anti-discrimination law is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII protects employees and job applicants from discrimination and harassment based on the protected categories of race, color, national origin, religion and sex.
Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit discrimination in employment based on disability. Under the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. If a person with a disability is qualified for the work and can perform the essential functions of the job (with reasonable accommodation if necessary), the employer must not discriminate against the employee or job applicant.
Lesser known but of increasing importance, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of age against employees or job applicants who are 40 years of age or older.
The Equal Pay Act (EPA) dictates that women and men who perform substantially the same work for the same employer must be paid the same wages and receive the same benefits. The employer may not reduce the wages of one gender to align them with the wages of the other gender.
Most states have laws that supplement the federal anti-discrimination laws. Some states protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, engaging in lawful non-work related activities, place of birth and other categories.
Limits of anti-discrimination protection
Title VII and the ADA only apply to employers with 15 or more employees. In addition, legitimate business purposes may allow some types of discrimination under Title VII. If a job requires a specific characteristic or skill set, an employer may have a legitimate business reason for discriminating in selecting candidates for the position. These characteristics are commonly known as bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs). This is, however, a narrow exception.
Although sexual orientation is not considered a protected class under Title VII, some courts have held that homosexual, bisexual and transgender individuals may bring claims related to sex stereotyping in violation of Title VII.
The ADEA only applies to workers 40 years of age and older and employers with 20 or more employees. The ADEA does not prevent employers from favoring older employees over employees who are less than 40 years old.
Under the EPA, women and men may be paid differently for equal work if the pay is based on seniority, merit, productivity or another factor not related to sex.
Filing a charge of employment discrimination
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) handles initial claims of employment discrimination. Before a person can file a discrimination lawsuit in federal court, the claim must be evaluated by the EEOC. After it conducts its initial investigation, the EEOC will encourage mediation, sue the employer or issue a right to sue letter. The right to sue letter allows the claimant to file a lawsuit in federal court. The claimant may seek the assistance of an attorney at any time during this process.
States may have additional means for victims of discrimination in employment to enforce their rights in court and receive financial compensation for their lost wages and other damages. Because each state has its own process for addressing discrimination claims, an employment law attorney in your state can advise you of your rights and options.
No matter what the outcome is, the employer may not retaliate against a person for filing a charge with the EEOC.
Consult an employment law attorney
If your employment rights have been violated, get in touch with an experienced employment law attorney. Speak with a lawyer from Allred, Maroko & Goldberg in Los Angeles, CA, to learn your rights and plan your strategy.
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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.