Federal and local laws protect you from workplace discrimination. Your employer cannot discriminate against you based on factors such as race, gender or religion. These factors cannot be used as a basis for unfair treatment at work, hiring or promotion decisions, or termination of employment. Recognizing the types of discrimination helps you to determine whether you have been discriminated against.
Race and Nationality
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits your employer from discriminating against you based on your race, color or nationality. In addition, your employer may not treat you unfairly based on your marriage or association with anyone of a certain race or nationality.
These factors must not be considered in making employment decisions, and it is illegal to harass you by making derogatory comments. A foreign accent is not grounds for discrimination unless it interferes with job performance. In addition, employers may only make speaking English a requirement if it is required to properly perform job duties.
Another law, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on immigration status, as long as you are legally allowed to work in the United States.
Sex and Gender
You may not be unfairly treated based on your sex or gender. This type of discrimination includes unfair treatment of people who are transgender or because of affiliation with organizations associated with a specific gender.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects women from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition. Employers must grant disability leave to an eligible woman if she is temporarily unable to work because of a pregnancy or related condition.
Whether you participate in an organized religion, such as Christianity or Buddhism, or hold serious religious or moral beliefs, religious discrimination laws protect you from unfair treatment. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for your religion such as granting leave to observe religious holidays or wearing religious dress.
In addition to respecting your beliefs, your employer may not require you to participate in religious practices you do not believe in.
Employers may not treat you unfairly if you are disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects disabled workers and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations, such as wheelchair accessibility, for your disability. Employers may not ask specific medical questions, but they can ask if you can perform the functions of the job and whether you need accommodations to do so. Employers can require a medical examination after offering conditional employment if the exam is required of all new employees and not because of your disability.
Equal Pay Discrimination
The Equal Pay Act requires employers to pay men and women equal pay for equal work. If your job duties are the same as co-workers, but you are paid less because of your gender, you are being discriminated against. Equal pay also applies to benefits such as retirement, health care and life insurance. Title VII and the Americans with Disability Act also prohibit unequal pay on the basis of race, color, national origin or disability.
The Age Discrimination Act protect workers over age 40 from being discriminated against on the basis of age. It is not illegal for an employer to give preference to an older employee.
Genetic Information Discrimination
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on genetic information. This includes genetic testing you had for medical conditions or trials, information about your fetus if you are pregnant, and your family's medical history.