The federal anti-discrimination laws recognize and prohibit various types of discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination can take place in these situations:
Discrimination and Work Situations
- It is illegal to discriminate in hiring, firing, salary, job assignment, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits and any other condition of employment.
Discrimination and Harassment
- Offensive remarks which are frequent or severe are considered harassment. Teasing, offhand comments and isolated incidents that aren’t serious are not harassment. Harassment creates a hostile work environment. Harassers can be supervisors, co-workers, clients or customers.
Discrimination and Employment Policies and Practices
- It can be illegal to have employment policies or practices negatively impact certain applicants or employees in any of the EEOC categories.
Types of Employment Discrimination
Age discrimination: Federal law forbids age discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.
Disability discrimination: The law protects those with a history of a disability or illness, such as cancer in remission, short-term physical or mental impairments, or permanent disabilities which limit major life activity. Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations in the work environment for an employee or job applicant with a disability. Employers may not demand a physical exam or answers to medical questions prior to extending a job offer. Current employees can only be asked medical questions in order for the employer to reasonably accommodate his or her needs.
Equal pay and compensation discrimination: equal pay for equal work is covered by law by the Equal Pay Act. Men and women must earn the same amount if their job responsibilities, not titles, are substantially equal. All forms of pay and benefits are covered.
Genetic discrimination: this covers information from the genetic tests of an individual or an individual’s family members as well as family medical history. The law prohibits using genetic information in employment decisions and restricts employers from requesting, requiring or purchasing genetic information.
Harassment in the workplace: Harassment is a form of discrimination. It is important to note the victim of harassment does not have to be the person directly being harassed but is affected by the offensive behavior. Harassment is illegal when the work environment, by a reasonable person’s standard, is intimidating, hostile or abusive. It is also illegal when a condition of employment is enduring the offensive conduct.
National origin discrimination: it is illegal to treat an employee or applicant unfavorably because he or she is from a particular country or region of the world, speaks with an accent, is of a certain ethnicity or appears to be of a particular ethnicity. This also covers being married to or associated with a person of a certain national origin. Moreover one’s association with an ethnic organization or group cannot be used against them. It is important to note, national origin discrimination can also occur when the victim and the person causing the discrimination are from the same national origin.
Pregnancy discrimination: this area covers pregnancy, childbirth and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Medical conditions are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and employers need to accommodate employees as such. Additionally the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 protects parents’ eligibility to take 12 weeks of leave for new child care. This includes foster and adoptive parents.
Race discrimination: this category covers persons of a certain race or having characteristics of a certain race such as hair texture, skin color or certain facial features. Additionally, this discrimination can occur if an applicant or employee is associated with a person of a certain race or color such as a spouse or associated with an organization or group generally associated with a certain race.
Religious discrimination: the law protects those of organized religions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism as well as sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. It is illegal to discriminate or harass due to one’s religious beliefs. It is illegal to segregate employees due to religion. An example of segregation would be assigning an employee to a position so they do not have contact with clients in fear of an actual or presumed customer preference or bias. Additionally, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees to practice his or her religion such as flexible scheduling, voluntary shift substitutes or swaps, or modifications to the workplace policy or practice such as a dress code.
Retaliation in the workplace: those who file a claim of discrimination or participate in a claim are protected against retaliation such as firing, demoting, or harassing.
Sex discrimination: this category refers to being treated unfairly due to one’s gender as well as those person’s defined as transgender. It is also illegal to discriminate due to one’s sexual preference, lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Sexual harassment: sexual harassment is considered unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and/or physical harassment which is sexual in nature. Sexual harassment also includes being subjected to offensive comments about one’s gender in general, such as derogatory remarks about women. Sexual harassment victims and harassers can be male or female and can be of the same gender as the offender.
Call the Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates for Employment Discrimination Matters
The Philadelphia employment law firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates is the premier team for legal counsel and representation in discrimination claims and will fight aggressively to protect your rights. With offices located in Philadelphia, our employment lawyers work throughout the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Call us at 215-569-1999 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.