In theory, employers within the United States are supposed to provide equal opportunities for all workers regardless of race, sex, religious belief and a wide array of other characteristics.
In practice, some employers will provide workers with different pay scales or offer promotions based on these characteristics. In an effort to ensure that employers are promoted, hired and paid based on their abilities instead of these characteristics, the federal government enacted various laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
Federal Laws Protecting Workers
A number of federal laws are present to offer protections against job discrimination. Many are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII): prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA): prohibits men and women from receiving different pay for substantially similar work in same workplace
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA): prohibits discrimination based on age, specifically for those 40 and older
Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA): prohibits discrimination based on disability in private business along with state and local government positions
It is important to be aware that these laws apply to different types of employers. For example, Title VII and the ADA cover all employers within the private sector, state and local government jobs and educational facilities that employ 15 or more people, while the ADEA covers all employers in the private sector who employ 20 or more people, state and local government employers, employment agencies and labor organizations.
An employee who is treated differently in violation of these or other laws protecting employment rights can file a claim of discrimination. In addition to filing with the EEOC office, it is wise to discuss your situation with an experienced employment discrimination lawyer. This professional will be able to explain which laws apply to your unique situation and the remedies that may be available.
Remedies can range from compensation for missed pay to reinstated employment and can even include payment to cover court and attorney costs.