Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on a number of protected characteristics under federal law. The state of California offers additional protection to workers.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
This offers a number of workplace protections. It prohibits discrimination at work on the basis of religion, national origin, race, sex and color. The sex category protects against discrimination related to pregnancy and any related conditions. The Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that this protection also applies to sexual orientation and transgender status. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission helps enforce these laws.
There are a number of other laws that also protect workers. Workers 40 and over are protected by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The Americans with Disabilities Act help protect disabled individuals in the workplace. In 2000, an executive order prohibited discrimination against parents. There is also protection against workplace sexual harassment.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, there are several additional protections. These include protection against discrimination based on gender expression and genetic information.
Under discrimination law, there are certain guidelines that must be followed in pursuing a legal claim. These can be complex, and people who are wondering whether their treatment at work falls under any of these laws may want to consult with an attorney to better understand how to proceed. Another potential challenge that employees face is that discrimination can be subtle and difficult to prove in some cases. Employees may also fear retaliation for reporting discrimination or harassment, but these laws are also supposed to protect against retaliation. Acts of retaliation might include denying an employee a promotion, demoting an employee or firing an employee.