Legal Protections Against Workplace Discrimination

Just because it’s illegal to engage in workplace discrimination doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist. In fact, it’s prevalent in workplaces throughout Georgia, across the nation, and globally. While it’s true that, historically, we’ve made significant strides when it comes to protections against workplace discrimination, the battle isn’t over. We must continue upholding the laws established to combat discriminatory practices in the workplace; it’s the only way to ensure forward movement continues for employees throughout the U.S.

Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws prohibit discrimination at the federal level and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) exists to enforce these laws. Included in the EEOC’s duties is the general oversight of all policies and regulations instated for equal employment opportunity purposes.

A brief history of the federal laws prohibiting job discrimination:

  • 1963, Equal Pay Act (EPA): Protects against gender-based wage discrimination for men and women who perform equal work under the same establishment.
  • 1964, Civil Rights Act (Title VII): Prohibits employment discrimination based on a person’s race, religion, national origin, color, or gender.
  • 1967, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): Provides protection to employees over the age of 40.
  • 1973, Rehabilitation Act (Sections 501 and 505): Prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to work in the federal government.
  • 1990, Americans with Disabilities Act (Title I and Title V): Prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to work in the private sector or in state and local governments.
  • 1991, Civil Rights Act: Provides monetary damages to employees who’ve been intentionally discriminated against in the workplace.
  • 2008, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (Title II): Prohibits discrimination based on genetic information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do workplace discrimination laws only apply to employees?

No. While the discrimination laws described above primarily relate to employees, they also apply to applicants seeking employment as well as to previous employees who were terminated.

Is it illegal to discriminate in any aspect of employment, or just some?

Federal laws prohibit discrimination in all realms of employment, including but not limited to:

  • Recruiting, hiring, and firing employees
  • Assigning, classifying, and compensating employees
  • Transferring, promoting, and laying off employees
  • Training and testing employees
  • Allowing access to company facilities
  • Providing pay, fringe benefits, retirement plans, and disability to employees
  • Posting job advertisements for potential future employees

What does it mean to discriminate against someone based on national origin?

By law, employers cannot discriminate based on an individual’s culture, ethnicity, ancestry, birthplace, and / or linguistic characteristics. For example, it would be illegal for an employer to require employment verification for persons of a certain national origin (or persons who appear to be of a certain national origin other than the U.S.) but not for all applicants.

What is different about the 1991 Civil Rights Act vs. the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

The Civil Rights Act of 1991 enforced major federal changes to the employment discrimination laws governed by the EEOC. The act set out to reverse past Supreme Court decisions limiting an individual’s rights and protections under the original Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, the Act calls for an expansion of the technical assistance and outreach activities practiced by the EEOC.

Were Your Workplace Rights Violated? Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP Can Help.

If you were discriminated against at work – or in the process of applying for a new position – you don’t have to sit back silently. In fact, you shouldn’t. With the help of an Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer at our office, you can fight back.

Our legal team at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP is committed to protecting Georgia employees against workplace discrimination and harassment. With decades of experience to our name, we are recognized as one of the state’s largest and most prominent law firms, and we’re ready to help with your employment law case. Contact us today for a free, confidential case evaluation.

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