What Is Employment Discrimination?

Employment Discrimination in the Workplace

Beginning in the 1960s, both federal and state governments have created laws that protect employees against employment discrimination. Essentially, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee. This includes pretty much any personal characteristic other than personality.

There are several laws that govern employment discrimination. The most famous is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act provide a lot of additional coverage. These laws made it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees in many aspects of employment. These aspects include hiring and firing, pay, disability leave, recruitment, job advertisements, compensation, classification of employees, testing. This also includes many other employment terms and conditions. There are also individual state laws that address employment discrimination.

Those Protected from Employment Discrimination

Several groups are directly protected from employment discrimination. Virtually any characteristic has protection under one of the many discrimination laws. They are covered in the US both at federal and state levels. These protected groups include the following:


Gender and Sex is protected from employment discrimination. Both men and women are protected by federal and state laws from sexual harassment. It is illegal for employers to maintain a hostile environment for members of either sex; this includes the same-sex discrimination or harassment. There is ample protection for pregnant persons as well. Pregnancy must be considered a temporary condition and have no direct consequences for employment.

Additionally, the Equal Pay Act is in place for more protection. This assures that both men and women are paid the same rate for the same work. Assuming that a man and a woman are working under similar conditions. The position requires similar responsibilities, skills, and effort. Those workers must be paid the same rate. An employer may not lower the pay rate of one sex to ensure that both groups are being paid equitably.

National Origin

It is strictly illegal to directly discriminate against any individual based on linguistic, cultural, or ancestral characteristics. It is also illegal to discriminate against persons due to their birthplace. Speaking English may also not be a requirement for the vast majority of jobs. This is unless the employer can legally prove that speaking English is required for a particular position’s duties. Employees must be aware of this requirement. They must be aware of the consequences for violating any English-only rules. This should be considered prior to taking a job that requires English language.


Religion is protected from employment discrimination. It is illegal to discriminate against an individual due to religious beliefs. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for specific religious practices. For instance, an employer may not forbid a Muslim from daily prayer rituals. They must accommodate such rituals unless the employer can prove that accommodating daily prayer rituals would be a direct hardship.


The Americans with Disabilities Act essentially ensures the following. No person with a disability may be discriminated against in the workplace. According to the ADA, a disability can be either mental or physical impairments that substantially limit major life activities. Such activities potentially include seeing, hearing, learning, walking, working, or speaking, among others.

Individuals with disabilities must receive reasonable accommodation from their employers. This may involve things like modifying work schedules, allowing additional leave, or providing modified equipment and additional training materials. There is no requirement for employers to provide peripherals such as glasses or hearing aids.

What Should You Do If You’ve Experienced Employment Discrimination?

If you are experiencing or have experienced employment discrimination, it is important to take steps to rectify the situation. Here’s what you need to know:

Step 1: Make Your Employer Aware of the Situation

Depending on the situation, your employer may not be aware that you are experiencing employment discrimination. This is particularly true if a co-worker is the problem. Additionally, plenty of entities get away with illegal discrimination activities. This is because the target does not make it clear that the conduct is unwelcome and illegal. The employer needs to comply with the law. However, it is important for you to take the first step and speak out if there is a problem. Ask for written reports documenting discriminatory activity and for active investigations into your allegations. The law requires your employer to comply.

Step 2: Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

If your employer does not respond or is not cooperative, contact the EEOC and file a complaint. This agency is responsible for ensuring employers are in compliance with federal employment discrimination laws and policies. If your employer tried to ignore you, get the EEOC involved to get their attention.

Step 3: Document Incidents

It is important to thoroughly document your employment discrimination experiences. Keeping a diary with dates to keep track of which event occurred on what date and what time is helpful. Saving any objects, messages, or pictures that represent discrimination is also important. You may find it distressing to keep mementos of your suffering around. However, the more proof you have the better. This is because documenting employment discrimination may better the case if you bring it to court.

Step 4: Contact an Employment Discrimination Attorney

We have mentioned some of the federal laws that determine employment discrimination. However, there are many state laws that deal with this issue as well. Speaking with a local lawyer is the best way to understand which laws apply within your particular jurisdiction. Discover which actions you can take. An experienced employment discrimination attorney can help you use the evidence that you have collected and form a solid case.

Work With an Experienced Employment Discrimination Attorney

Are going to take your employer to court over employment discrimination? Work with an experienced employment discrimination attorney to help things go your way. An attorney has the knowledge to guide you through the complex nuances of employment discrimination law. They may ensure that you get the compensation and retribution you deserve for suffering at the hands of your employer.

Contact an employment discrimination attorney near you today. You can either call us at (866) 345-6784 or submit an online request and we will get you in touch with an experienced employment discrimination attorney near you.

We've connected over FIVE MILLION requests since 2001

How It All Works

Call us or answer the questions on this site. Your category, location, and additional information will help us connect you to a legal professional and we’ll send you the results instantly.

Which Areas of Law?

We have attorneys in over 20 legal categories to choose from.

How Much Does This Cost?

We don’t charge you to be connected. Some legal categories require upfront fees while others do not. The legal professional will determine this with you before you commit to anything.