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Employment Discrimination Q&A

Employment Discrimination

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Title VII is a federal anti-discrimination law that prohibits an employer from discriminating on the basis of race, national origin, gender, or religion. It also bars discrimination based on pregnancy.

Does Title VII apply to all employers?

No. Title VII applies only to employers with 15 or more employees. 

What types of actions are prohibited by employers under Title VII?

Title VII prohibits an employer from taking the following actions against an employee based upon his or her race, national origin, gender, or religion:

  • refuse to hire
  • discipline
  • fire (terminate)
  • deny training
  • fail to promote
  • pay less or demote
  • harass

Can a white male be subject to discrimination?

Yes. Male or white employees or applicants can be the subject of discrimination. This form of discrimination called reverse discrimination has been recognized by Title VII.

Is it discrimination if a comparable male and woman employee receive a different amount of pay?

There may be a claim. The Equal Pay Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex where a male and woman perform substantially equal work. 

Does the Equal Pay Act apply to all employers?

No. It applies to employers that are already subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Who does the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protect?

The ADEA protects from discrimination employees and applicants who are over the age of 40.

Does the ADEA apply to every employer?

No. The ADEA applies only to employers with 20 or more employees.

Are employees with disabilities protected from discrimination?

Yes. There are two federal laws that provide protection from discrimination for employees with disabilities: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees in the private sector from disability discrimination; it applies only to employers with more than 15 employees. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to all government entities and federal contractors. 

Are employers with less than 15 employers barred from national origin discrimination?

Yes, with one exception: The Immigration Reform and Control Act bars employers with more than three employees from discriminating on the basis of national origin.

Is an employee who is not a U.S. citizen protected under the Immigration Reform and Control Act?

Yes. The Act also applies to an “intended citizen,” an employee that can legally work in the U.S. but is not a citizen.

What is the EEOC?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that enforces discrimination laws. The EEOC investigates claims brought under Title VII, the ADEA, the ADA, or the Rehabilitation Act.

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