Employment Discrimination Laws
Landmark acts that established Federal employment discrimination laws and regulations are listed below.
Sexual harassment is prohibited under the sex discrimination provision of the Civil Rights Act. AIDS discrimination is prohibited under the Americans with Disabilities Act and for government employees, under the Rehabilitation Act.
Click the matching links in Federal Discrimination Laws for more information.
Federal employment discrimination laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) mandate only the minimums to which employers in all states must adhere.
Subsequently, states and local jurisdictions are permitted to enact their own employment discrimination laws that include or expand the minimum protections afforded by the Federal laws.
For example, some states and municipalities prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, smoking, body weight or unfavorable military discharge, in addition to the prohibited discriminations under Federal law. Your employee rights are protected by whichever employment discrimination law — Federal, state or municipal — affords the most protection.
Although their titles don't clearly indicate that they serve as employment discrimination laws, certain other Federal and state laws also prohibit it. For example, the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act prohibits employment discrimination against veterans who fought battles; whistleblower laws and certain employment and labor laws have provisions that prohibit it in the form of employer retaliation.
Employment discrimination laws are also called equal employment opportunity laws, anti-discrimination laws and civil rights laws. Some municipalities and states refer to their employment discrimination laws as fair employment practices (FEP) laws. Municipal and state agencies that enforce such laws go by various names.
For more information about discrimination laws, start by contacting the nearest office of U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or state equivalent, or by consulting a lawyer. Your employer can't rightfully retaliate against you for doing either.
But, whether you contact the EEOC or state equivalent or consult a lawyer first, don't delay if you reasonably believe that your employer has discriminated against you. You have a limited amount of time take legal action, starting on the date the alleged discrimination took place. Such a time limit is called a statute of limitations.
Proponents are still lobbying for a new Federal discrimination law that will prohibit prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual workers because of their sexual orientation. (Over half of the states already have equivalents.) Meanwhile, the Federal Government already prohibits sexual-preference discrimination in Federal employment and has also granted Federal job benefits to gay partners.
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