Employment discrimination law in the United States derives from the common law, and is codified in numerous state and federal laws, particularly the Civil Rights Act 1964, as well as in the ordinances of counties and municipalities. These laws prohibit discrimination based on certain characteristics or protected categories. The United States Constitution also prohibits discrimination by federal and state governments against their public employees. Discrimination in the private sector is not directly constrained by the Constitution, but has become subject to a growing body of federal and state law. Federal law prohibits discrimination in a number of areas, including recruiting, hiring, job evaluations, promotion policies, training, compensation and disciplinary action. State laws often extend protection to additional categories or employers.
Under Federal law, employers generally cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of:
- National origin
- Disability (physical or mental, including HIV status)
- Age (for workers over 40)
- Military service or affiliation
- Bankruptcy or bad debts
- Genetic information
- Citizenship status (for citizens, permanent residents, temporary residents, refugees, and asylums)
Whether the harassment and discrimination are overt and obvious or whether they are subtle, neither one should be permitted in any workplace. Not only do these practices lower employee morale, decrease productivity and increase employee turnover, both workplace harassment and discrimination are prohibited by law. In fact, not only is it illegal to discriminate or harass against employees, it is also illegal to discriminate against an individual during the hiring process.
Protections against discrimination exist in both federal and state laws. In some cases, state law protects employees against more forms of discrimination than federal law. In those cases where both federal and state laws offer similar protections, an employee can pursue either federal or state employees and applicants who have been the victims of discrimination may have remedies available to them. Depending on the type of discrimination and the harm suffered, they may be entitled to back pay and benefits, compensatory damages, and punitive damages. Not only this, but employers can be ordered to take steps to correct the discriminatory practices and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Finally, an employee that has been discriminated against may also be able to recover attorney’s fees and other costs of bringing the action against the employer. remedies. Where only state law offers certain protections, then the employee must pursue only those remedies available under state law.
For more information please contact our office now to set up an appointment with attorney Daniel Lenghea to determine the best cause of action.