All 50 states have laws prohibiting discrimination, with discrimination defined as an action that denies social participation or human rights to specific categories of people based on prejudice. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against or harass someone on the basis of a protected characteristic. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) outlines discriminations by type, which we have summarized below.

Racial / Ethnic Discrimination

It is illegal to harass or discriminate against a person because of that person’s race, ethnicity, or color.  This type of discrimination includes treating someone unfavorably because that person is married to or associated with a person of a certain race, ethnicity, or color, or even when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are of the same race, ethnicity, or color.

Sexual Discrimination

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that employers give men and women equal pay for equal work as well as jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility.

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination (in all terms and conditions of employment) to employees who are at least 40 years old and applies to private employers who have at least 20 employees.

Disability Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination to people with disabilities in any aspect of employment, as well as protecting those who are wrongly perceived as having a disability.

Religious Discrimination

It is illegal to discriminate against a person because of their religion, and this includes harassment, employment, segregation, reasonable accommodation, and dress and grooming policies.

National Origin Discrimination

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) prohibits discrimination against both employees and potential employees on the basis of their national origin and / or citizenship.  The IRCA also states that it is illegal for employers to knowingly employ individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States.

Marital Status Discrimination

Although federal law does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of an employee’s or applicant’s marital status, about half of the states do have laws prohibiting this type of discrimination.

Pregnancy Discrimination

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits discrimination against individuals who are either pregnant or intent to become pregnant.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Although there is no federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, about half of the states have laws in place that prohibit sexual orientation in both public and private jobs.

Discrimination is a serious legal issue that varies greatly from case to case and impacts many aspects of a person’s life. Discrimination law is based on civil rights and is therefore interpreted through a civil rights lens. Victims of discrimination often suffer grave emotional damage and may be entitled to other financial compensation in addition to compensation for lost wages. For these reasons, it is to your benefit to obtain the legal assistance of an attorney experienced with discrimination legal services if you think you may have a discrimination lawsuit on your hands.

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