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Discrimination - The Basics


Discrimination Explained

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate in the workplace. Both Federal and State laws protect employees from discrimination on the basis:

  • Race

  • Color 

  • National origin 

  • Ancestry 

  • Religion 

  • Gender 

  • Pregnancy 

  • Disability 

  • Sexual orientation 

  • Marital status 

  • Age

Employment discrimination can take many forms, including failure to hire or promote, discipline, and/or wrongful termination. Similar laws protect employers from retaliating against employees who complain or assist others in complaining, about discrimination.

Age Discrimination

An employer violates both Federal and State law if it discriminatorily refuses to hire, promote, or provide other employment benefits or terminates an employee based on age.  Employees or applicants who are 40 years of age or older are protected by these laws.

Additionally, under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, employees over 40 years of age are entitled to a twenty-one (21) day consideration period prior to signing any agreements which waive their rights and have seven (7) days to revoke an agreement that purportedly waives their rights. 

Race Discrimination

Under Federal and State Law, it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer, because of race or color, to discriminate against a person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. Race discrimination may be proven by showing that (1) person belongs to a racial minority; (2) person was qualified for the position they sought or was performing competently in the position they held; (3) person suffered an adverse employment action, such as termination, demotion, or denial of an available job; and (4) some other circumstance suggests discriminatory motive.

Disability Discrimination

Federal and State law prohibits an employer from unlawfully discriminating against an employee who has been diagnosed with a disability or a medical condition. Similarly, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against an individual for any perceived disability or medical condition.

Upon becoming aware of an employee’s disability or medical condition, an employer has an obligation to engage in a good-faith discussion in an attempt to provide reasonable accommodations. An employer who fails to engage in these attempts may be liable to the employee for failing to engage in the good-faith interactive process, or failure to accommodate, or disability discrimination.