Analyzing Employment Discrimination
Below are some brief explanations regarding several types of discrimination and related federal employment laws.
Age discrimination can occur when an employee or an applicant for employment is treated less favorably because of his/her age. Under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against individuals who are age 40 or older. This law applies to hiring, firing, job assignments, demotions, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits, and other workplace issues. Moreover, an employment policy, procedure, or practice that applies to all employees, regardless of age, may still be unlawful if it has a negative impact on employees or applicants age 40 or older.
Sex discrimination can occur when an employer treats an employee or an applicant for employment unfavorably because of that person's sex. Sex discrimination is unlawful throughout many aspects of employment, including layoffs, hiring, firing, demotions, promotions, job assignments, reductions in force, and more.
Religion discrimination can occur when an employer treats an employee or an applicant for employment unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. Many employers may not appreciate the fact that the law protects not only individuals who practice traditional, organized religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism, but also others who have genuinely held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs.
Disability discrimination can occur if an employer or other entity covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability unfavorably because he or she has a disability.
Under the Equal Pay Act, employers can be liable for not providing men and women in the same workplace equal pay for the same work. Salary, stock options, bonuses, overtime pay, vacation, insurance benefits, holiday pay, and other benefits are covered by law. An inequality in wages between men and women can cause employers to face damaging lawsuits.
Pregnancy discrimination can occur when an employer treats a woman (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
Important Questions to Consider:
1. Does your business have an employee handbook? If so, has it been reviewed or updated recently?
2. Does your business stay informed of changes in state and federal employment laws?
3. What does your business do when it is faced with a workplace issue?
4. Does your business have periodic employment law training sessions?
5. Does your business have an experienced, trained, and skilled HR department?
6. Has your business faced (and/or continues to face) damaging employment lawsuit(s)?
7. Does your business have specific policies and procedures in place to address workplace issues?
8. Do you or your business' managers know what discrimination, harassment, and other legally defined terms really mean?
9. Do you have employment agreements in place? If so, who drafts them?
10. Who answers employment law questions within your business when they arise?
11. Does your business wait to contact an attorney only if a lawsuit has been filed against it?