What are the federal laws against employment discrimination?

Under federal law, it is illegal for an employer to take adverse job action against an employee because of his or her race, national origin, color, religion, gender, age, disability, or genetic information.  The federal laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Number of Employees Required for Coverage

Title VII and the ADA apply to employers who employ 15 or more employees.  The ADEA applies to employers who employ 20 or more employees.

Prohibited Job Actions 

The prohibited adverse job 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, and harassment.

Federal Remedies for Employment Discrimination

Under the federal laws, an employee who prevails in an employment discrimination lawsuit may recover back pay, front pay, the value of lost employment benefits such as insurance and retirement, punitive damages and compensatory damages for emotional distress (subject to certain caps), attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.  Injunctive relief, such as reinstatement of employment, may also be awarded.  Under the ADEA, an employee may recover “double damages.”