Both companies and employees must be familiar with employment law, including the various federal and state regulations which protect workers from being discriminated against. Employers can face substantial consequences for unlawful discrimination, and workers can obtain monetary damages when being treated wrongfully.
For some workers and some employees, there are common misconceptions about exactly what different kinds of anti-discrimination laws exist to protect workers. There are laws forbidding discrimination in hiring, firing, and terms and conditions of employment in connection with many different kinds of protected status under employment law. Race, religion, gender, national origin, advanced age, and disability are among the different protected statuses.
Not only are employers prohibited in overtly discriminating on the basis of someone's protected status, employment law also prohibits various other types of discrimination as well.
What are the Different Types of Discrimination in the Workplace?
Discrimination in which an employer refuses to hire someone, won't promote the person, or fires the person because of his protected status is the most well-known type of discrimination. However, this kind of discriminatory behavior has become less common as time has passed. Today, other types of discrimination lead to a substantial number of employment discrimination claims. The other types of discrimination include:
- Disparate impact discrimination: Disparate impact discrimination refers to a top of discrimination wherein an employment related criteria or condition has the effect of disqualifying more people of a protected class. If a workplace test ends up disqualifying substantially more Caucasians than minority applicants, the test could be viewed as a type of disparate impact discrimination unless there is a bona fide job-related reason for administering the test.
- Hostile work environment discrimination: Employees should not be treated differently or made to feel uncomfortable because of their protected status. If there is a hostile environment created, this can be a form of discrimination- even if the hostile environment has been created by peers or co-workers. Examples could include a situation where women are forced to repeatedly listen to sexist jokes within their work environment. Employers who fail to provide a mechanism for reporting a hostile work environment or who do not take adequate steps to prevent such an environment or respond to complaints can be held accountable for this type of discrimination.
- Quid pro quo harassment: This type of workplace discrimination happens when a person in a position of power makes any of the job-related terms and conditions contingent upon acceptance of sexually harassing or inappropriate behavior. If a boss promises to promote his secretary if she is willing to put up with his inappropriate advances or inappropriate and sexist comments, this would be considered an example of quid pro quo harassment.
Those who believe they were discriminated against should get legal help. Employers also need legal assistance in many circumstances, both when claims of discrimination are actually made and if they wish to be proactive in trying to prevent unlawful discrimination from occurring.