What are the Federal Laws Against Employment Discrimination?

Protected Classes

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on a broad range of protected classifications.  Under Title VII, as amended, it is unlawful for an employer to take adverse employment action against an employee or job applicant because of his or her sex, pregnancy, race, color, national origin, religion, genetic information, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Title VII also prohibits retaliation and sexual harassment in employment.

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on physical or mental disability. Under the ADA, it is unlawful for a covered employer to take adverse employment action against a qualified individual with a physical or mental disability because of his or her disability.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects older workers in the protected age class, age 40 or older, from age discrimination in employment. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful for a covered employer to take adverse employment action against an employee or job applicant because of his or her age.

Prohibited Employment Actions 

Under federal law, the prohibited adverse employment actions include not only employment termination, but many other tangible job actions, such as demotions, failure to promote, failure to hire, pay cuts, unequal terms and conditions of employment, unequal pay, unequal benefits, pay discrimination, workplace harassment, and retaliation.