Employment Discrimination

You are protected from discrimination in your workplace and while you are applying for a job. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has the job of keeping the workplace free from discrimination. You may file a complaint of discrimination as long as the company discriminating against you has at least four employees.

In your workplace and when applying for a job, discrimination is illegal if it is based on race, color, national origin, sex/gender (including pregnancy), disability, age, religion/creed, sexual orientation, and retaliation. However, the discrimination is only illegal if you are singled out because of your difference and then treated differently because of it. For example, if your boss is a mean person it is not discrimination because he or she is mean to everyone. Or if your boss is mean because he or she does not like you it is not discrimination. You must be treated differently BECAUSE OF one of the differences below:

  • Race, Color, and National Origin: Everyone belongs to a certain group of people based on physical and cultural characteristics. You cannot be treated differently in your workplace or when seeking a job because of the group you belong to, the color of your skin, the language you speak, or where you (or your ancestors) were born. Also, you do not have to be a citizen of the United States to be protected.
  • Sex/Gender: You cannot be treated differently when at work, or when seeking a job, because you are a male or a female. Also, you cannot be treated differently because you are pregnant under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Sexual harassment is also illegal.
  • Disability: The American with Disabilities Act protects you from discrimination based on a mental or physical disability as long as you are qualified and capable of doing the job you applied for.
  • Age: As long as you are over the age of 18 an employer cannot treat you differently because of your age.
  • Religion/Creed: You have the freedom to believe in and worship whatever and wherever you wish. However, if the company you are applying to/work for is owned (even partially) by a religious organization they are allowed to treat people differently based on religion.
  • Sexual Orientation: You may choose any partner (male or female) that you wish and cannot be treated differently in your place of employment because of it. This also prohibits discrimination based on your gender identity. However, if the company you are applying to or work for is owned (even partially) by a religious organization they are allowed to screen applicants based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Retaliation: It is illegal for an employer to treat you differently because you filed a complaint of discrimination or participated in a discrimination case in the past.

What is employment discrimination?

  • You are let go from your job only after your employer finds out you are gay even though your work has been the same.
  • You are a man and are disciplined differently for the same incidents as women. 
  • You are fired from your job after you testify against your employer in a discrimination case. 
  • An Asian man is offered a job that you, as a black woman, are not offered even though you have more experience and are more qualified to do the work.

What is not employment discrimination?

  •  You are let go from your job due to downsizing. 
  • You have excessive absences from your job, even if you have a doctor's note you may be let go.
  • You are not offered a job because you are less qualified than other candidates.
  • You are let go from your job for unprofessional behavior, or for violating a rule.