Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects against discrimination in employment because of race and 42 U.S.C., section 1981 prohibits race discrimination in contracts, including employment contracts. While the term ‘race’ is not defined, the law prohibits all race discrimination. Thus, a white, just as a member of a racial minority group, is protected against employment discrimination.
Title VII prohibits sex-based employment discrimination against women and men. But Title VII does not prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation or preference. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) amended Title VII to make clear that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions is sex discrimination. Sex harassment is also sex discrimination. See Harassment.
National Origin Discrimination
National origin discrimination means discrimination based on the country in which a person was born or the country from which their forebears originally came. Thus, discrimination because someone’s origins are from Cuba is discrimination because of national origin. Discrimination because someone speaks English with an accent is evidence of national origin discrimination. But, discrimination because someone is not an American citizen is not national origin discrimination.
Alienage discrimination against someone who is authorized to work in the United States violates the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). IRCA is enforced by the United States Department of Justice.
Discrimination based on religion is prohibited by Title VII unless the employer is a church or other religious institution. ‘Religion’ is quite broadly defined to include an employee’s moral and ethical beliefs. In addition to prohibiting discrimination because of a person’s religion, Title VII also requires employers to reasonably accommodate its employees’ religious beliefs and practices unless that accommodation poses an undue hardship on the employer’s business. Undue hardship, however, can be established rather easily if the employer can show it involves any real cost at all.
Age discrimination is prohibited by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) but only workers ages 40 and older are protected. Some state anti-discrimination laws protect workers of all ages from age discrimination. The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) established standards to determine whether buy-out and other early retirement packages for workers that typically include a waiver giving up all claims of age discrimination violate ADEA.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. See Americans with Disabilities Act.
Anti-discrimination laws, both state and federal, also generally prohibit retaliation. Thus, workers cannot be fired for filing discrimination charges against their employers. Nor can they be discriminated against for other, reasonable action taken in opposition to discrimination by their employers.overnments.