Employment Discrimination in the Workplace

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws preventing discrimination against job applicants and employees in a number of workplace scenarios, including hiring, firing, promotions, training, salaries, and benefits. The EEOC's enforcement of workplace discrimination is based on these laws. The interpretation of the law by the courts and revisions to the legislation are always changing.

These discrimination laws include:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. Employees are likewise protected from retaliation if they file a claim for employment discrimination under this law.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act: This modification to Title VII broadens the definition of "sex" to encompass discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition linked to pregnancy or childbirth.

The Equivalent Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) prohibits sex-based wage discrimination between men and women who accomplish equal work in the same employment.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA): Protects employees or prospective workers who are 40 or older from workplace discrimination.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified people with disabilities from or during employment.

Many state laws are comparable to federal civil rights laws in nature, but they may provide extra safeguards against employment-related discrimination. Almost every state has passed anti-discrimination laws in the workplace, protecting employees from discrimination based on race, gender, age, marital status, national origin, religion, or handicap.

Learn about what laws and regulations your state has in place in addition to federal law.