Federal and state anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination based on an applicant’s or employees protected characteristics. Employment discrimination can happen in many ways, and the conduct can be overt or subtle. Prohibited discrimination in the workplace happens when an employer treats a member of a protected class differently than other workers based on the employee’s protected characteristics. For example, if an employer passes over women for promotions who are more qualified than their male coworkers who are promoted, the women who were denied the promotions may want to file discrimination claims. An attorney at Swartz Swidler can help you to determine whether you have been unlawfully discriminated against at work and the options and remedies that might be available to you.
Illegal employment discrimination
Discrimination against members of a protected class is illegal in all phases of employment. This includes everything from how the company recruits workers to termination decisions. Some examples of the aspects of the employment relationship in which discrimination is prohibited include the following:
- Recruiting efforts and advertisements for jobs
- Training opportunities
- Termination decisions
Federal and state anti-discrimination laws clearly state that workplace discrimination is illegal. Companies are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees based on their protected statuses. The protected statuses include the following:
- National origin
- Genetic information
- Sexual orientation
It is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against someone because he or she filed a discrimination complaint or participated in an investigation about discrimination in the workplace. The prohibition against retaliation includes retaliating against a worker whose discrimination complaint was found to be unsubstantiated.
Federal and state anti-discrimination laws
There are a number of federal anti-discrimination laws. States also have anti-discrimination laws. In some cases, the states’ anti-discrimination laws protect more classes of workers or apply more broadly. Employment lawyers can help their clients to decide whether to file a discrimination complaint with the state or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Employers are required to comply with both the federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
For example, federal age discrimination law prohibits discriminating against workers based on their ages when they are 40 or older. In New Jersey, by contrast, workers over the age of 18 are protected against age discrimination. In most cases, however, age discrimination complaints in the state generally involve older workers.
When you are considering state and federal laws against discrimination, the laws that provide greater protections will be applied in discrimination complaints. Employers are required to follow the more stringent standards between state and federal laws.
Some employers continue to engage in prohibited discrimination in spite of the state and federal anti-discrimination laws. For example, a case that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 dealt with a woman who sued Abercrombie and Fitch under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The woman wore a headscarf to her interview and scored highly on a test. However, she was rejected because she wore a headscarf. The Supreme Court said that the company should have asked whether she wore a headscarf based on her religion instead of denying her a job.
Federal anti-discrimination laws
There are numerous federal anti-discrimination laws that protect workers. Some of these laws include the following:
- Equal Pay Act – Protects workers against sex-based pay discrimination
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Forbids employers from discriminating against applicants and employees based on sex, religion, race, color, or national origin
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act – Prohibits covered employers from discriminating against workers who are 40 or older based on their ages
- Rehabilitation Act – Prohibits disability discrimination against people working within the federal government
- Americans with Disabilities Act – Prohibits discrimination against workers who are disabled in companies with 15 or more employees
- Civil Rights Act of 1991 – Provides a remedy of monetary damages when employers intentionally engage in discrimination
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act – Prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s genetic information
- Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – Restarts the statute of limitations for pay discrimination claims with each new paycheck
- Older Worker’s Benefit Protection Act – Prohibits discrimination against older workers in their pensions and retirement accounts
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act– Prohibits pregnancy discrimination
Get help from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler
While there are many federal anti-discrimination laws that make workplace discrimination illegal, some employers continue to discriminate against applicants and workers based on their protected statuses. If you think that you have been illegally discriminated against by your employer, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney at Swartz Swidler to learn about your rights. Contact us today by filling out our contact form or by calling us at 856.685.7420.