1. Work Discrimination?
2. Breaking Down Types of Work Discrimination
3. Laws Protecting Against Work Discrimination
4. When Should You File a Discrimination Complaint?

Work Discrimination?

Work discrimination happens when an employee or job applicant is the victim of discrimination based on race, age, religion, gender, color, disability, pregnancy, nationality, or their relationship to another person. Acts of discrimination may include:

  • Refusal to hire

  • Discipline

  • Termination

  • Denial of training

  • Failure to promote

  • Pay decrease or demotion

  • Harassment, or unwelcome behaviors

Breaking Down Types of Work Discrimination

There are many different types of discrimination. Here's a look at some of the most common types.


Age discrimination happens when an employee does not receive the same benefits as another employee because of his or her age, or a company specifies age requirements in a job posting.


Religious discrimination happens when a person is treated unfairly because of his or her religious beliefs. Companies must do their best to support an employee's religious beliefs unless doing so results in negative consequences for the company.


When companies pay someone more money than an equally qualified person of another gender in the same role, the result is gender discrimination. People who have the same qualifications, responsibility, skill, and job role must receive equal pay, regardless of their gender.


It is illegal to discriminate against an employee who is pregnant. Pregnant women must receive the same treatment as a person with a temporary illness or other non-permanent condition.


Discrimination toward a person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender is known as LGBT discrimination. Though no federal laws protect the LGBT community against discrimination, about 20 states have laws prohibiting LGBT discrimination in the workplace.

Laws Protecting Against Work Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: prohibits discrimination by all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions of 15 or more people based on race, color, religion, sex, and nationality.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973: applies the principles of Title VII to the federal government as an employer.

Equal Pay Act (EPA): makes it illegal for all employers covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to practice pay discrimination between men and women who have similar qualifications and work in similar roles.

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: ensures funds accrue each time an employee receives a discriminatory pay check.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA): falls under Title VII and bans discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): prevents discrimination against pregnant women, parents, and employees with serious health conditions and makes it possible for family members of people in the armed services to take leave without discrimination.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): prohibits discrimination against employees 40 years of age or older.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA): prevent discrimination against a person with a disability for their disability, for associating with someone who has a disability, or because the employer sees a person as disabled whether they are or not.

Nineteenth Century Civil Rights Act: ensures all people are equal under the law.

Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA): makes it illegal to discriminate against someone because of genetic information.

Rehabilitation Act: seeks to end discrimination against handicapped people and promote affirmative action programs.

American with Disabilities Act: bans discrimination due to a physical or mental handicap.

Uniform Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA): makes it unlawful to deny employment based on current, past, or present military service commitments.

Black Lung Act: prevents mine operators from discriminating against miners who have black lung disease.

Family and Medical Leave Act: gives people the right to take unpaid leave from work to take care of a newborn, newly adopted child, or sick family member.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010: prevents discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual people serving in the armed forces.

Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA): is a proposed law that would make it illegal to discriminate against sexual orientation in the workplace.

When Should You File a Discrimination Complaint?

If you believe you are the victim of workplace discrimination, you can file a complaint against your employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In most cases, you have 180 days to file a claim with the EEOC. You can send your claim to the EEOC by mail or make it in person.

Be sure to include your contact information, as well as your employer's contact information in your claim. You should also include the date of the incident and a description of the events that took place. Under United States laws, an employer cannot retaliate against you for filing a complaint or participating in an investigation.

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