In an ideal world, everyone is judged on the basis of their character, and success is determined by genuine ability. Unfortunately, some people remain prejudiced against others who are of a different sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, or similar trait, and that attitude can manifest itself in the form of employment discrimination.
What is Employment Discrimination?
Federal anti-discrimination laws describe a protected class as a group of people with a common characteristic, such as race or sex, who may not legally be discriminated against on the basis of that trait. In the workplace, illegal discrimination takes place when a job applicant or employee is adversely treated because they are members of a protected class.
Examples of prohibited employer conduct include:
- Indicating preferred applicants in a job advertisement (e.g. “Women under 25 only”)
- Denying benefits or compensation to certain employees
- Paying different salaries to equally-qualified employees who hold the same position
- Discrimination when promotions or layoffs occur
- Discrimination when maternity or disability leave is being assigned
What are the Protected Classes?
Several U.S. laws have identified protected classes and prohibited any type of discrimination against them. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 offers the broadest protections, as it forbids employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, or religion. Other classes and their associated laws include:
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which makes it illegal to take adverse action against a worker due to their age. For example, an employee may not be terminated because the employer believes they are too old to do the job.
- The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions associated with them.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 makes it illegal for a qualified person to be fired due to a physical or mental disability. Furthermore, an employer is required to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits job discrimination based on intent to join the U.S. military, current military obligations, or status as a veteran. For example, if a company fires a reservist who has been called to active duty, they are in breach of the Act.
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 bars employers from using a person’s genetic information (which could indicate a hereditary predisposition to certain illnesses) when making employment-related decisions such as hiring or firing.
In Connecticut, the Fair Employment Practices Act goes a step further and prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression. If an employee reveals the fact that they are gay, for example, the employer may not terminate him or her as a result. Other state-protected classes include marital status and HIV/AIDS status.
If you believe that you are a victim of job discrimination, contact Monarch Law today. We have years of experience advocating for clients in both state and federal courts, and will provide you with both knowledgeable and compassionate legal counsel until your case is resolved.